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Sunday, September 30, 2007

hwyl gardd 2

Summer gardens are always fun. We did most of the planting in late Spring for the Summer garden. We sectioned off a portion of our backyard for vegetable gardening.

Usually, unless it is something exotic and needs special care, we just get seedlings from local nurseries. As to tips for growing, it is not easy to jot down here - each year/season is different.

One thing that helped when we first started the backyard garden a few years ago is to have the soil tested. There was a free soil testing organized by the county, I think, and we took a sample and got it analyzed and followed the recommendation of the experts there - mainly pH was too low and we put some lime to add some alkalinity to help neutralize, and they recommended adding bone meal as needed as it contains some nitrogen and a lot of phosphorous as well as calcium.

Since then we didn't do much to the soil... except common things like rotate the plants each year, plant peas in Spring so it prepares the bed for summer garden by fixing nitrogen, enrich soil with organic compost etc. Composting has been easy as we got this Earth Machine for home composting ($35) as soon as we moved into this house and have been throwing our organic waste in there pretty much daily.

This year, we went to local nurseries and got some seedling where appropriate - like eggplant, some varieties of tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, grape vines, greens, and chilies. A few varieties of tomatoes, okra were germinated at home. And, of course, corn and sunflowers - we just threw the seeds on the ground and they sprouted fine.

Basically, just talking to the experts at the nursery, sprinkling water as needed, adding compost from home-composting, and weeding is all we did. No pesticides, no fertilizers. We read up a bit on the web to see what common bugs affect the plants we have. If needed, we were prepared to get some praying mantis or other bugs to keep the plant invaders in check, but, we didn't need to this year, just like last year.

Most of the plants did well. The Okra didn't. We just a handful from 4 plants. I think it never got warm enough for the okra to thrive.

Some recipes made with the Summer garden bounty:
Eggplant: Sautéed Eggplant, Ennai Kathrikkai, Thai Red Curry, Godhsu, Eggplant Rasavangi

Greens: Ethiopian Meal, Creamy Chards Soup, Chards Masiyal

Potatoes: Potatoes Lyonnaise, Swiss Rösti

Summer Squash: Summer Squash and Eggplant dish

Raspberries: Raspberry Chipotle Chicken

Tomatoes: I ended up canning most of the tomatoes as sauces, stewed whole, thokku and salsa; made some tomato rice, green tomato koottu, and stuffed tomatoes, plus of course, used tomatoes in many of my recipes as one of the ingredients...

Herbs: Some perennials like Rosemary, Lavender, Mint have been around from last year, and we planted some cilantro, oregano, basil, fennel and chives and they all did well, thankfully.

It is getting chilly already, so we dug out most of the plants. Tomatoes are still fruiting, so we have left it on for a few more weeks. Brussel Sprouts is just getting ready, so, in about a few weeks we might be able to harvest it as well.

We finally laid a major portion of the summer garden to rest. It was not easy to say good-bye, but, we are not planning on any winter gardening as we are not set up for any sort of greenhouse arrangement.

The few indoor plants we have are well out of the kitties' and baby's reach, so they are surviving fine. But, to grow any more indoor vegetables and herbs this winter would have to remain a dream. Even if we can teach our baby to stay off, the kitties stay home when we are gone for the day and end up messing with the plants, even if out of curiosity or by accident...

So, dear garden, Au Revoir!

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