Friday, August 5, 2016

Scent-Free Savvy Starts a Garden

First of all, my disclaimer: I didn't have a clue of how to get this garden started. Challenged with a chronic illness and food allergies, I have been working on healing my leaky gut so I knew I wanted this garden to be organic. I wanted food that wasn't sprayed or preserved with soybean oil or any  soy derivative and pesticides.  

There were so many questions. What time of the year is the best time to start? What are the best vegetables to plant in this area that can sustain this bipolar weather? 

I tried digging in the soil, digging didn't last long.  It was too difficult because the soil was partially clay.  So, then, I thought, do I till my yard?  Well the first year I decided to have a garden, it rained it seemed all of Spring and I found you can not till in wet soil.  So the time to plant came and went. Although, I did plant herbs in pots on the porch. However, this year I was determined to do more.

I decided to build a raised garden.  I YouTubed how to build a raised garden.  It seemed simple especially when I saw Vanessa on the Craft Gemini's YouTube video.  Don't ask why that didn't go forward.  I don't know.  

Then, my childhood friend, Kay suggested I go onto Craigslist and search for free bricks or concrete pavers, so I did and I found. All I had to do was pick them up. The photo to the left shows the raised garden bed I built. 

Earlier in the May, I went to a local nursery and picked up organically grown seedlings.  As my crop grew, though, I found that should have spaced the seedlings as suggested on the identification tab which,  in some cases, should have been planted 6 to 12 inches apart.  I was trying to fit as many as I could in the garden bed and now I have a jungle, however the plants are still growing and I am harvesting.  

Another question I had was, what would I do if there was an infestation.  I certainly didn't want to use any pesticides.  I think one of the things I was afraid of were insects.  I hate spiders and bugs.  I decided as long as they didn't eat the plants "live and let live".  I was in their environment now and they deserved to live.  My reasoning is as long as they stay out of the house, I'm good, unless they want to pay rent.  So far I have had only one type of pest.  At first I thought it was a "cute" butterfly.  After the the upteempth YouTube video, someone finally revealed that this "cute" butterfly was actually a white moth and it was eating my leaves, or rather its offspring.

Moth eaten leaves
White Moth


At first, I used a food grade diatamaceous earth as suggested by a YouTuber as I thought I had a different kind of infestation.  Diatamaceous earth is a white powdery substance used on insects with an exoskeleton.  

However, this culprit seemed to react more from the mixture of neem oil, Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds and water. These moths are relentless. They lay eggs, that turn into larva and then caterpillars that eat your leaves.  
Growing this garden has been very therapeutic, as I check its progress and water early every morning, with the exception of rain, of course. It has truly made me appreciate Jehovah's creations and how plants grow.  

Zucchini in progress
I didn't know the bees had to pollinate the zucchini flowers or any of the flowers that preceded the actual vegetable that would grow.  I have enjoyed this experience tremendously.  I could almost find myself becoming a vegetarian.

Enjoying the fruits of my labors, eating green beans, grape tomatoes, juicing collard and brussell sprout leaves.  This is very satisfying.

The collards greens are not quite  ready to harvest for the typical collard green recipe. 

Lessons learned:  
  • Just do it.  Don't over think the process
  • Give your plants room to grow. Don't cram to much in an area
  • "Life will find a way" (yeah, I did just quote Jurassic Park) 
  •  Give more thought to fertilizer and follow packaged directions.  Don't over fertilize
  • Get enough trellises for your cucumbers to climb (I had a tragedy this morning)  
Certainly, I have a lot more to learn, however, there is no turning back for me.  Next year, I will continue on in my growth curve in  learning how to garden. Who would have thought that seeing the transformation through gardening would bring peace to my being.

Sweel Basil from the porch herb garden

First green bean and grape tomato harvest
First harvest with gluten free pasta by Rotoni with a pesto sauce I made from the sweet basil harvested.


Collards Greens