@marionberries has shared a few drool-worthy photos of her back yard with us here a Letttuce Craft. I was pleased to ask her a few questions about her gardening experiences.
When did you start gardening? What got you interested in it?
We built a new home on an acre with room for a garden. Made lots of mistakes and learned a lot. I remember trying to tie up sweet corn in a windstorm!
What vegetables do you always grow every year?
A long list. I manage the beans, peas, summer squash, and cukes, root veggies such as carrots, beets, kohlrabi (not a root veggie, but close), sweet potatoes and regular potatoes, onions. My DW plants tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, greens, kale, chard, basil, parsley, and okra. We have rhubarb and asparagus, though we have lost most of it in the last year. I probably missed a few. Oh and oregano and thyme…comes back every year. We have a small city lot, long and narrow with the house taking up the top part of the plot.
Did you try any new ones for 2020?
No, just new varieties of tomatoes, beans and carrots due to lack of seed availability. We have in the past which is why we have such a variety.
Added tip. Let some of your lettuces go to seed and shake the dried seed heads over your garden beds. If conditions are right, you will have early sprouted lettuces in the spring just when you need fresh greens the most.
We rotate some veggies, but the garden looks pretty much the same year to year now. We’ve found the best spots for certain plants.
Do you save your own seeds?
Some, mostly beans and seed potatoes.
What fruit do you grow?
Blueberries, raspberries, hardy kiwi, and pawpaw. The birds get the raspberries and blueberries most years.
Do you have issues with garden pests? Tell us about the ducks you used to have to keep pests at bay.
Pepper flies, some kind of stem borer that gets the squash, the usual. When I gardened in Oregon it was the slugs. The ducks were a great defense, but keep them away from lettuce and peas! We get slugs in Connecticut too, but just use slug bait or beer. The yard is too small for ducks.
Do you ever grow vegetables in pots?
Seldom, they usually die of thirst.
You mentioned that you had a half load of composted manure delivered. Do you do that every year?
No, but we should and we will this fall. When we started this garden over regular grass, we covered the areas in cardboard, dumped tons of leaves on top to smother. The first year was hard, but by end of summer, the soil was wonderful. We’ve used llama beans and horse manure. In the last couple of years, we were very busy in the summer and the garden suffered. Now it’s getting back to great shape.
Do you dry, can, or freeze any of your produce?
Mostly make large batches of spaghetti sauce and freeze. We don’t really plant too many of anything and just eat or give away. Lots of bruschetta, baba ganoush, salads, and stir fries. We go through withdrawal every fall.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about starting a vegetable garden?
Water, weed and keep trying things until you find what works. Celebrate every success. Weather will get you sometimes and you will make lots of mistakes…good and happy. And read up on techniques. You don’t have to follow them, but you will pick up great tips. And try different things than the standards. We now grow a variety of chards, lettuces, oriental greens, and whatnot. Something is always ready to eat. Try a herb patch too.