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how our garden grows



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Vivi’s patient pursuit of four-leaf clovers can consume an entire afternoon.

Much like Mary, we are contrary gardeners around here. Despite dire warnings from neighbors and strangers about critters eating the whole lot come harvest time, our seedling adventure is still chugging along. I’m unflappably optimistic about the venture, figuring all the exercise and dirt therapy is worth whatever food we must eventually offer up to the tiny garden gnomes or whatever other earthly creatures lie in wait.

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Offering the kids plenty of occupying activities: house, bin o’toys, tub o’water, and a branch fort

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“Digging in” my garden with compost, peat moss, and fertilizer

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A few of my trophies. “Rocky” doesn’t begin to describe this patch of soil.

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Peonies, thanks to the lady who used to live in our house. Aren’t they lovely?

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Drooling over my neighbor’s sweet tomato set-up. Can you believe the upside down thing really works?

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Hybrid bell peppers, squash, zucchini, and a tomato (not pictured)

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Three more tomatoes, raspberry, and Vivi’s sunflowers

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This is some kind of weedy flower that is apparently impossible to get rid of. Luckily I like it, and so do the bees.

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Strawberries! I’m sad we are going to miss most of the picking season while we are on our southerly vacation.

We are making progress! This week was the biggest output of energy yet and involved lots of digging of dirt, rocks, and roots, and multiple trips back to the local farm for fertilizer, compost, and pots. Ultimately, we ended up with a 4’x8′ plot in the ground (minus a spot for the tiny maple tree I couldn’t bear to dig up) instead of raised beds. I couldn’t find salvaged wood or cinder blocks in the time frame I wanted them, and it occurred to me I didn’t mind putting in a bit of extra labor of digging in the soil. {Note about supplies for digging in: for our 4’x8′ plot, I used 4 40lb. bags of composted cow manure, 1 cu.ft. of peat moss, and about 3/4 c. of organic fertilizer}. We’ve also added a bunch of pots in the sunny spot next to the garden plot that had too many roots to plant in the ground, and a few random pots of strawberries, herbs, and flowers here and there.

Having given you my nonchalant spiel, do you green thumbs out there have any tips about keeping away unwanted critters? Some sort of {gulp} fencing I should put in? Or {double gulp} fox urine I should spread around? Even without the garden, we could use some protection anyway against whatever omnivorous nocturnal creature is eating our garbage, be it raccoon, possum, or skunk.

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Vivi’s flower pot: lantana and some unknown vintage hybrid mix. Somehow they managed to make those flowers all co-exist in the same plant. Don’t ask me how, but isn’t it cool?
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Front porch herbs: sage, thyme, and parsley (back porch has rosemary, oregano, and basil)

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Update: A few hours after I posted this article, Tom Ashbrook hosted a great hour of NPR’s On Point called Garden Fever. Guess his show ain’t called “On Point” for nothin’! I enjoyed the discussion and learned a lot–I highly recommend it if you’ve got some time.

Editor’s note: This post is part of Real Food WednesdayFrugal Days, Sustainable Ways The Homestead Barn Hop, Simple Lives Thursday, and DIY Friday

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