Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hey, I can grow food!

This is the most productive year my veggie garden has ever had.
Three Sisters garden
'Three Sisters' bed in front, potato patch in back

I've been cultivating this plot of land since 2005 and all the hard work is really starting to pay off. Over the past month, I've harvested pounds and pounds of potatoes,
potatoes
'Kennebec' white potatoes

tomatoes,
tomatoes
'German Johnson' tomatoes

squash,
'Tatume' squash
'Tatume' squash. The large ones are firm like spaghetti squash, the small ones are tender like zucchini.

green beans,
green beans and squash
'Blue Lake' bush beans and 'Tatume' squash

garlic,
garlic
'Inchelium Red' and 'Lorz Italian' garlic

cucumbers,
cucumbers
'Boston' and 'lemon' cucumbers

and beets. Or rather, beet.
giant Chioggia beet
Yep, that is one giant Chioggia beet.

I even had a measurable corn harvest. The ears were small but numerous, with well-formed kernels at the base and a fresh, corn taste. The tips of the ears had poorly formed kernels, bugs (aphids, ear worms) and/or corn fungus, so I cut off the tips and we ate the good part.
corn
'Stowell's Evergreen' white corn

We've been eating fresh vegetables from our garden nearly every night.  I made homemade tomato sauce, and I even pickled that big old woody beet (it's marvelous). 
canned beets
Get the recipe at http://polyvoracious.com/2012/08/05/pickled-chioggia-beets/ 

I can't say growing my own food is less expensive than market-bought. Over the past 9 years, I've spent hundreds of dollars on compost and garden soil, a drip irrigation system, tools, hoops and trellises, shade cloth and frost cloth. But now that the garden is established, my costs are going down. I do buy seed, transplants, and organic nitrogen fertilizer, as well as a few bags of compost each season (my small bin only makes enough compost to top off one bed).

Mulching the beds keeps water use down; pine straw is my favorite because it lasts a long time. Someday soon I'd like to install a large rainwater collection tank.
muskmelon seedling
Muskmelon seedling mulched with pine straw

I'm working on lowering my seed costs by saving some of my own.
seed saving
'German Johnson' heirloom tomato seeds

To me, there's few things more satisfying than harvesting fresh homegrown food right out of my own backyard. Others find it's too much toil and trouble and prefer to leave all that work to the farmers. Where do you stand?

Words and photos © 2009-2014 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.