2011 is when gardening in the true sense of the word got started. I planted
a lot of different crops most of which made it to harvest yet some sadly did
not. This was the year of the corn and no corn (squirrels). You’ll be able to
see the stalks in at least one of the photos I post. One of the techniques I
tried to use is called the “3 sisters” (taught to the pilgrims by the Native
Americans). That’s where you plant corn, squash and pole beans together so
that each helps the other. The corn gives the pole beans a place to cling to.
The squash provides ground cover to suppress weeds. The beans provide nitrogen
for the soil. So, everyone does their job and no one gets a free ride!
In the photos you can clearly see the garlic plants rising high. They are the
ones with the curved ends looking like a walking cane. Those buds at the end
are called scapes or spring garlic. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was
supposed to cut those off. Those could be used in cooking just like regular
garlic. They have a very mild garlic flavor. The reason to cut those off is
so the plant will then focus its energies to the bulb beneath the soil giving
you a more generous sized product.
In the right hand plot you will see what will become candy red onions. I planted
that entire plot with onion slips. Those are basically pre-sprouted seeds that
you can use for planting. That shortens the time to harvest than if you had
started from actual seeds.
For my first re-entry year it was a pretty rewarding experience. As fall
approached I planted cool weather crops (radishes, lettuce, etc) again and
harvested them. I also extended the year on some of my pepper and eggplant
plants by protecting them with “hot house” concepts. The remnants of these
are visible in the end of year photo.
I also made another change to the layout. I had informally added another portion
by the fence (not visible except for the presence of the eggplant plants. Then,
at the end of the year, I took all the cinder blocks out of the middle plots and
extended some of the front plots so it would look evenish!
If you look at the front in the photo of earlier in the year and then the end of
year you’ll see the change. Also, all the extra blocks would be used to formalize
the area in front of the fence on the right (south side).
That big dark green bush you see is kale. It lasted well into winter and was quite
delicious. You’ll also notice in the middle of the garden there seems to be a
plastic sheet covering something. That’s the “mini hot house” protecting the sweet
pepper plants. Under there were also a couple of milk gallons filled with water.
Their purpose was to heat up during the day and release their heat at night. Free
solar heating at its best!
Similarly, at the right against the fence, you’ll see the tattered remains of what
I had stapled against the fence to keep the eggplants warm. Here as well I used
the free solar heating concept with water filled milk gallons.
I did one more thing this year towards the end. I planted some stuff in several
pots to place indoors in a sunny window. Some of them, like the hot peppers I
did to prove that it could be done. I planted basil, parsley, and several
varieties of hot peppers in separate pots. In the accompanying photo you can
clearly see the basil an at least one actual jalapeno pepper growing!