These pictures and organic gardening ideas from my June garden might help you see (if you don’t already) that your garden doesn’t have to be perfection as dictated by someone else. Rather it can (and should) suit your individual needs AND be easy.
Lots of New Gardeners This Year/ Prompted by Fear?
Based on the number of questions I’ve received from new readers this year, a lot of people started gardens.
Of all the reasons to start a garden, my guess is that most are being prompted by the fear of shortages of fresh food in the stores.
Bill and I started a garden 41 years ago because we didn’t have money for food. So I totally relate to being concerned about food shortages whatever the reason.
The Greater Bonus
The greater bonus that I wasn’t fully aware of at the time was: when you garden with nature you’ll get some of the most nutritious food you can find. Good nutrition strengthens your immune system which is your best defense against any disease.
Will Newbies Find Gardening Doable or Too Much Work (and give up)?
Organic Gardening is easy. But since marketing (with its bottom line being only money rather than serving your needs) controls much of what people believe, not too many will know just how easy it is.
Many things that are marketed as “have-to-have” or” have-to-do” actually make gardening harder. At the very least, they give you more to do. But those things can become so firmly fixed as “truth” by the marketing that the majority adapts those procedures. When things become too much to keep up with and don’t go as easily as they thought, gardening is then considered too much work.
As I pointed out in a post on new gardening methods, it seems to be a universal law that even the worst of things or the biggest of lies can have a bit truth to them. That doesn’t make the complete package worth embracing. (I gave some examples of this in that post.)
If you garden with nature there’s not a lot to buy. And there’s minimal amount of work once you prepare for maximum success by using my 3 keys.
Even in Difficult Times Organic Gardening is Easier if You Work with Nature
Even in times when life throws you a time of intense difficulty and tending your garden is impossible for a year, you can work with nature and not have to start over. With a minimum of effort you’ll still be able to keep your “no till” garden intact. (I’ll tell you a few of my secrets at the end that enabled me to do just that.)
Sharing 40 Years of Organic Gardening Ideas With You
I’ve spent over 40 years finding ways to make gardening easier and easier. And I’ve written two books (one “hard copy” and one digital) and over 750 posts and letters giving you a lot of my secrets.
But most will still follow what they’re familiar with or what’s generally done in the kind of garden they choose whether it’s conventional/using chemicals or organic.
Yes, there’s always something to learn. But, as I pointed out in a recent post, by following my 3 keys to success you’ll have laid your foundation for success even when you don’t know a lot.
Garden June 2020
Still too small to be visible in the picture below (taken June 15) are hot weather crops like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and okra. Once they start their quick growth the garden in photos will look like a mass of green. Beds and paths will be indistinguishable unless you’re walking in the garden.
Even now the large blueberry bushes at the lower end are hidden from view by the tall stalks of lettuce going to seed and the tall peas.
Dill, thyme, rosemary, garden sorrel, and chard don’t show in the picture either.
If you click on the picture you may be able to enlarge it full screen to see more clearly.
Visible from left to right are onions, asparagus ferns, snap beans, broccoli, lettuces, collards, beets, peas, cabbage(covered with white row cover fabric), lettuce setting seed (the tall plants with light green tops), and a tall variety of peas.
I keep oenothera (the pink flowers) on hand in the garden for transplanting into the borders where and when needed. The red flowers (right center top) are daylilies. Two baptisia plants with formed pods show at the bottom right along with day lily foliage and some asparagus ferning out.
Probably got a bit overly optimistic about what I could handle this year. I sent pictures to a long-time friend recently and she called my garden a farmer’s market. With all the diversity, I guess it’s gonna be just that: my own personal farmer’s market.
Zeroing in on Individual Crops
Because of space and time considerations I don’t plant broccoli but every 3 years or so.
This year I transplanted the seedlings to the garden about the second week of April. I didn’t get the size heads that I would prefer but every one I did get (and am getting) was/is delicious. Also, I use the leaves chopped in a mixture of other raw veggies and a drizzle and toss of olive oil and vinegar.
My timing for transplanting is pretty much a guess based on what “I think” the weather will be. Our spring weather can be unpredictable. It’s said that when those cold spells come in the spring broccoli needs to be mature enough to still yield a good sized head. Or immature enough that the cold spells won’t cause smaller heads.
Yeh, right. Good luck with that. My crystal ball’s not working.
While my spring planted lettuces were growing, I had plenty of good lettuce from my fall plantings to tide me over even through late May.
I planted several varieties this spring:
Ella Kropf – didn’t germinate well. Red Iceberg didn’t either, but the few heads that did were beautiful and delicious. Jericho, Winter Density (my seed), Sierra Batavia (my seed) and Reine de Glaces are all looking good.
Small plantings of lettuce are throughout the garden especially in places that will get a bit more shade in the heat of summer. Most years I’m eating lettuce through July if it doesn’t get too hot and dry.
At least by October I’ll start lettuces for fall and winter . Seed used will be from my plants forming seed in the garden now.
If you grow collards you know how big they get. When planting them in the early spring I only plant a few and don’t let them get big. Every other day I harvest for fresh use (chopped) with my mixed vegetables.
All leaves looked pristine and beautiful until about a week ago when the harlequin bug showed up. (At least I know where to look to kill the harlequin bugs.)
I’ll leave the plants in for a while a longer until the lettuce gets bigger. Up they come after that. Will plant again in the fall and let half of that small planting get big for steamed greens. The other few plants I’ll keep small for fresh use.
I have several varieties of potatoes scattered throughout my garden. Some come in early, some mid-season, and some late.
There’s no room inside the house to store them, but they keep in the ground and I harvest as needed. This works great until a hard freeze. When that’s anticipated, I’ll take up enough to last me a month or so.
From left to right are beans, onions, an asparagus, strawberries, more onions, and broccoli. (The red flowers on the right hand side are daylilies.)
The asparagus was a volunteer and has done better than any asparagus in the garden. The majority have been lost to invasive roots.
(If you have “normal” trees like oak, maple, etc. you don’t have invasive roots. You have normal trees with roots that do normal things. It might be inconvenient but you can deal with them if you have to – assuming they’re on your property. But when you have roots that travel 120 yards from their source and cobweb through soil from the surface down 10 feet or more, you have invasive tree roots.)
When these beans started to germinate I had a vole wreaking havoc right in the middle of the row. Trapped for two days to catch him.
Then flea beetles got into the young beans. They outgrew them as you can see.
This planting is only about 5 feet in length. I planted another spot with beans the other day. I’ll plant at least two more times this season and have fresh beans up to a hard freeze.
My small plantings are enough to keep me eating fresh beans almost everyday once they start producing. Any excess I use for soups.
For years I grew peas and always enjoyed success. Then for about 5 years, they didn’t perform well. Only a few from each planting would grow and produce. I ordered from a different supplier each year and still had the same result.
This year everything changed again. Peas were beautiful!
I planted three beds of peas; each about 6 feet long. And I planted a 3 foot area with a tall pea that needed to be supported. I’ve harvested 5 times and gotten enough to eat a quart and then freeze a gallon and a quart for winter.
When Bill was alive we always picked and shelled peas together to cut the time down. Even back then I was careful to not plant more than we could handle in a reasonable time. (Peas are time consuming!)
And to make matters even more taxing, I like to shell and freeze within an hour of harvest for best nutritional value. That didn’t happen this year. It was anywhere from 2 to 6 hours before I could get to shelling and freezing.
There are still peas on the vines that I plan to dry and use for next year’s planting. I should have already pulled them up and draped them over a support to dry. Will get to that tomorrow hopefully.
At the top left of the photo above is the garden’s middle path. You can see five beds that are to the right of that path. From bottom row to top: Cabbages covered with row cover fabric. Finishing Peas. Young tomato plants. Aspabroc variety of broccoli, potato and lettuces. Onions.
The peas above have been harvested 5 times and still have peas that I’ll dry and use for next year’s planting. Behind the peas are tomatoes transplanted to the garden the first of June. Picture was taken June 17 and as of yesterday they’ve doubled in size. I’ll stake them within the next day or two.
Below is a volunteer cabbage from a core I buried as part of kitchen scraps during the winter. I’d already harvested the leaves before I thought to take the picture. Want to save seed and plant it next spring; and may a few this fall.
More leaves grew back quickly as you can see in the close up below. So far, I’ve harvested the leaves on this plant seven times (about 10 to 12 leaves each time) for fresh use with my meals.
More About the Cabbage
The wispy barely visible thin stalk in the middle is that volunteer cabbage you just looked at.
Under the white row-cover fabric are my cabbages. The small white section you see towards the top of the picture conceals two cabbages that I uncovered two days ago. Cabbage moths had found their way in, but I still harvested two small beautiful heads of cabbage after taking off the two messed-up leaves.
I had one chopped with my other veggies for lunch that day and it was without a doubt one of the most delicious cabbages I’ve ever had. There is NO WAY organic store bought can compare. They’ll do when I don’t have my own, but the taste (and I would think the nutrition) is totally different!
Yesterday I pulled back the fabric on the long row of cabbage after the rain. Gorgeous!! And no cabbage worm from what I could see. Their are holes in the fabric that I’ll tape up tomorrow. It was so wet this afternoon that the tape would not have adhered.
I bought seed for peanuts back in 2014. Patricia, a long time reader and friend, told me they were easy to grow. So I thought I’d give them a try since Bill loved peanuts. Never got to plant them after Bill needed me at his side 24/7 when he was sick.
In my garden it seems every couple of feet is another micro climate. Thus, I planted 3 small spots (like the one you see below) in various places. (Where they’ll do best will be revealed by planting in different locations. )
I don’t grow a lot of beets. I spaced these properly although you can’t see it in the picture. And the beets are fairly large. If I grow just for the greens I don’t pay attention to thinning them, but these I want for eating.
Planted another small amount in the upper garden but the flea beetles demolished the leaves. Hopefully the plants will make a recovery. If not, I’ll plant a few for fall.
Secrets to Keeping My Garden When I Couldn’t Keep My Garden 😊
Last year I was physically able only to handle planting a few rows at the lower end of the garden. Couldn’t even get straw to the upper end shown in the photo below.
You know what saved the upper end until I could get to it? My “good” weeds!
Why I Couldn’t Tend my Garden
As long time readers know, I was in my kitchen floor unable to move from late June of 2018 to October with a broken femur (thigh bone).
When I could finally walk (ever so slowly with a crutch) in the late fall of of 2018 I headed for my garden with much anxiety. I wish I had pictures to show you, but taking pictures was the last thing on my mind at that time.
Here’s What I Found
Veggies (except for my onion crop) had all rotted where they fell. My tomato stakes still stood but with nothing on them.
Volunteer summer poinsettia that I control and use as an additional cover crop when I don’t have straw had grown over the entire garden. It was thick and waist high.
The first thing I wanted to do was find and removed any “bad” weeds that had found their way into the garden during the growing season. The second thing I’d do was pull the summer poinsettia and lay it on top of the beds for mulch and organic matter.
(I wasn’t strong enough until this year  to move straw into the garden. In 2019 I relied totally on my good weeds and the summer poinsettia to mulch and feed my garden.)
One Secret to Easy Maintenance is Getting Out Perennials Weeds as Part of Your Initial Preparation
I’ve told the story many times: When Bill and I prepared our garden, we got all perennials weeds out. Wire grass can be persistent and although it was minimal after the initial preparation, we eradicated it entirely from the garden by year four. That makes garden life soooo easy!
The only place it gets in now is through the fence that surrounds my 2500 sq ft garden. But that’s easy to live with. And even during my absence it seemed to confine itself to the fence at the lower and upper end of the garden.
Bindweed is another that’s hard to get out due to it’s deep roots which spread underground. But through all the 20 years of being here prior to my broken leg, I managed to keep the bindweed pulled and confined to appearing in a small 4 x 4 foot area in the garden. During my absence it spread at least 10 feet. I look for any new sprouts as I walk through that area each day and get them out.
Other than those, the only “unwanted” weeds that the neglected garden had were two large wild perennial grasses and some nutsedge. Evidently the seed had blown in and grown where it landed.
Another Secret – a Border
I allow a two foot border from the fence to where the beds start. Then when creeping charlie gets in through the fence it mulches that part of the garden AND the border gives me time to get around to taking it out.
While I was out of commission it protected the edges and crowded out almost everything else that may have taken hold otherwise. And it comes up in mass in my good garden soil when I take it up. Easy.
Here’s What the Upper End of the Garden Looked Like in May of 2019
The brown you see is where I laid summer poinsettia and other “weeds” on top of the beds to decay.
Everything green came up in 2019 and included chickweed, mache going to seed, strawberries, and summer poinsettia seedlings, a lambsquarter, a couple of pigweed plants. (I like the leaves of lambsquarter to include with my meals each day.)
In the bottom left hand corner you see creeping charlie that covered the two foot border I allow from the fence to the start of the beds.
Just above the right corner you’ll see a row of onions that I had planted in March. The lower end of the garden was all I was able to plant last year. (2019)
A Best Kept Secret – Weeds Are Valuable
I love Chickweed as a covering for my beds in early spring. (It’s a good indication of nitrogen in the soil too.)
When I get around to planting the beds with chickweed in them, I take it up. Then I role it into a tight pile and place it on a bed that needs covering. It makes wonderful organic matter as it decays – but then, most weeds do. They have a lot of nutrients that will transfer to your soil during the decay process.
In May of 2019 I sent a private letter to TMG subscribers entitled “Don’t Waste Your Weeds”. I gave you all the details on what I was doing with my weeds.
Closer View of the Beds of the Unkept Upper End of the Garden in June of 2019
This next photo show my stakes still in the garden from 2018. I wasn’t strong enough to take them out.
The brown is what remains of the rolled-tight piles of weeds that I used to cover my beds in the fall of the previous year.
The green coming up in the paths between beds is mainly summer poinsettia. Also a few potato volunteers.
If you garden like I do, your garden can make it through a year without you and with minimal effort you’ll still be able to pull back your mulch (of weeds, straw, pine,etc.) and plant.
Please leave me a comment below and let me know if you find this post helpful.
Wishing you a great growing season.
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Lots of good info. But, what exactly is summer poinsettia?
I do not find chickweed helpful in my garden and especially in my flower beds. Other spring weeds can and do germinate under it and then I have two weeds to deal with. How do you only get chickweed and not the others?
Am so glad you are getting back to ‘normal’, whatever that is these days!
Great post. There are a couple of things I tell people when they ask for help to start gardening. Don’t start too big, it will become work.
Deal with what you can, considering your life style. Don’t start with a full slate of veggies. Gardening should be fun, relaxing, rewarding.
Don’t run out and buy all the things you’ll be told you need. I buy hardly anything anymore except from nature.
Don’t get discouraged, there are times when a veggie just doesn’t like this year and gives a poorer harvest.
The virus problems this year have restricted movement but a garden will get you outside, give you food and surprise you with the prize of seeing that first shoot come to life and it never grows old.
A short true story. My dentist started a garden but found he couldn’t keep up with it. I suggested he try container gardening in a small way. Not my thinking of gardening but he is now happily gardening in a way he can deal with. Happy gardening. Ray
Theresa: It is always a good day when I get one of your posts. It energizes me to go out to the garden and dig! NC got hot fast this year. If it keeps going like this the summer garden will be over soon. I tried again to grow oriental poppies. This time I got 2 pathetic plants growing. Its not looking good, but I will try again next spring.
Your posts are always inspiring! Keep up the great work. I’ve used a lot of your advice in our 17 x 40 foot fenced garden in New Jersey, and it’s doing great. Mulch and cover crops have been key to helping with our heavy clay soil. This is year 3 with the garden, and I can already see that the soil is lighter (although we still have a long way to go – I swear this place must have been a riverbed in the distant past.) We’ve been eating lettuce every day (green variety went to seed already, but red variety is still going strong), we’ve also had lots of snow peas, radishes, and Swiss chard, and we even got 3 cucumbers already! Beans, tomatoes, squash, and okra are coming soon. I also started a “perennial” bed of bunching onions this year based on your advice. It’s really taking off! The wild black raspberries have also just started ripening. I’ll get as many as I can if I can stay out of the poison ivy. Thanks again for your posts – gardening really is easy (and fun!)
I’m glad your garden strategy set you up to be able to recover without a whole new battle.
Here in the Idaho panhandle bindweed is everywhere, and it’s awful. The beds I prepared after I knew what it was are in better shape; the earlier ones have loads of it coming back up because I didn’t know enough in early spring to be fanatical about removing every bit of root. But it’s in the lawn, the alley, the neighbor’s lawn.. I’m at my parents’ house for the summer and I think unfortunately they’re going to be fighting it for a long time. I’ve been helping get some beds switched from massively overgrown and overplanted perennials (my parents bought the house about a year ago, and the previous owner had some… interesting … ideas xD)
I tried some broccoli this year. I’ve tried seed before but never got germination for whatever reason; this year I had transplants. No heads yet. Don’t know what I’m doing with it, but I hope to get something!
Thank you for this post. Even as a long-time gardener, I always learn from you. So glad to see that you are physically well and able to get back into your garden. It looks beautiful.
Two things I learned this time: 1) I can pull my pea vines and hang them up to save the seed and 2) I can leave my potatoes in the garden until harvest–had been wondering about that! I have too many to store in my little house.
I very much liked this, “In my garden it seems every couple of feet is another micro climate”. Then moving things around to see if one spot is better than another takes an intuitive approach rather than a prescribed one. That’s valuable advice, especially to someone just starting out.
I still think of you all those months on your kitchen floor and wonder how on earth you did it. Thanks for your common sense post, Theresa.
I am so sorry about your bad couple of years. I know you can’t possibly know your followers, but we love and care about you. And have missed you. I’m glad to be getting a few emails from you again.
We retired and moved from Texas to central Florida this year, and I dug up a small 8 x 12 foot backyard garden before the curtains were hung.
Remembering your blogs, I covered all with straw, which helped not only with weeds and water evaporation, but also I mixed some straw into the sandy soil to try to hold water from washing completely through. I had only tomatoes, squash, zucchini and peppers. The beans wouldn’t even germinate in the sand. I will expand its size in the fall. The soil seems pretty void of organic matter, so I have some enhancing to do.
Your huge garden and today’s pictures are so encouraging. I enjoy your emails. With this pandemic, we all need to be able to grow our produce.
Months on the kitchen floor? Literally?
I too didn’t get to the garden last year.
My husband had surgery, I had surgery and then he had another surgery. We are back to functioning as old folks do.
The garden beds were only weed beds by the time I got to them. The things in the beds had gone to seed and new little babies were coming up wonderfully. We had food out of the garden from seeds I had put in the year before. Nature is wonderful. Every year gets better as I get older.
It ain’t easy getting old, it idefinitely not for sissies. Keep sharing wonderful new tips and treasures with us. We really appreciate you and the time you spend helping us out. Stay healthy and safe.
There are so many varieties of vegetables in your Garden. Hats off to your effort and love for gardening; feeling inspired .
There are lots of reasons for gardening but I can add one I didn’t expect. I’ve had back issues for more than 50 years and always had to garden on my knees. It got to the point I couldn’t get up off my knees so I got a kneeler that allowed me to use my arms to get up. Nothing wrong with my legs but pinched nerves in my back. No one would do the necessary surgery. A brain surgeon finally agreed to do it 4 years ago with a miraculous result. NO pain. Then arthritis caught up with me and more back pain last winter. Gardening time and I had to find a way to get it done. Answer; I did a bit and a bit more and pain eased. I now am outside all day gardening as I will with some back ache but NO PAIN. Gardening did the impossible. So everyone keep gardening it’s fun and who knows what else.
Good Morning Everyone!
TISH, summer poinsettia is a lush green annual with a red pattern on the leaf that I allow to drop seed in my garden so I can use it in places when I’m short on straw or pine etc.
Also the bees and numerous other pollinators absolutely love it.
Here’s a picture.
As I mentioned in the post – the secret to having only the plants you want in the garden is mainly in the preparation. After that, if something does get in that you don’t want, you take it out BEFORE it seeds. The old saying is “a year of seed is 7 years of weeds.”
My garden has great soil after 20+ years of adding organic materials and it’s easy to take up whatever I don’t want – or am finished with.
I hope everyone reads your post — most especially those who are just starting to garden.
It’s some of the best advice a gardener could get.
Thanks for taking time to give it.
So good to hear from you! It’s a been a while.
Glad my posts are welcomed and energize you. We all need that extra boost every now and then.
I feel your dismay about oriental poppies. They can be temperamental at times.
SARAH, sure makes me feel good when I hear that my posts are always inspiring! Thanks for letting me know.
In case you’re not already aware of it — improved clay soil is THE BEST you can grow in. It holds nutrients (and water) so much better than improved sandy soil. BUT — it will still be more dense.
I had improved clay soil in my first garden and it was truly wonderful.
Where I am now was some clay but mainly sandy soil.(But not as much as in Florida.)
I miss my improved clay soil!
So glad you tried the perennial bunching onions!
I have a piece of poison only a foot from my garden gate. It grows right into the fence so I can’t get out the root. For the most part I keep it cut.
I have some that comes up in my front border but that’s easy to take out by the root.
Hope you can get yours out of the raspberries so you can enjoy them more.
ANNA, my garden has shown me so many times that I definitely have as close to a no-work-garden as someone can get. Takes effort of course but is very doable.
Love Idaho! My grandmother lived there with my Uncle after my grandfather died.
As you already have learned — once you get the hang of what has to be done with the bindweed it’s possible to keep out with a bit of diligence.
I know your parents are glad to have your help with those overgrown beds.
Good luck with the broccoli. The taste of garden grown is WONDERFUL!
Thank you for you thoughts. I’m delighted to get my garden back to looking like my garden!
I think no matter how long we garden there will always be things to learn. And it’s the most fun (I think) when we learn from our friends!
Storing potatoes in the ground until the first hard frost makes life a lot easier. You’ll enjoy it.
Every once in a while I’ll get busy with other things and not notice that the mulch is getting scarce over the potatoes. Then I get some with green on them which is toxic. Usually it’s minimal and I cut that off but sometimes I get a few that are all green and no good.
Good hearing from you Betty!
CONNIE, moving things around to see if one spot is better than another is definitely an intuitive approach
You have to know your garden — and as I mentioned mine is like a lot of gardens rolled into one because of the MANY micro climates
There are so many things in my life that I look back on and wonder how in the world I did them. Being on my kitchen floor all that time while my bone healed is certainly one of them.
Thanks for thinking of me Connie.
I’m so blessed to have the greatest readers in the world. And I’m fortunate to be able to call so many of you friends after years of communicating via email. So your words touched my heart and I appreciate your feelings very much.
I just love it that you dug up your small garden before the curtains were hung! We have the same priorities!
As you continue to add organic material to your sandy soil it will improve. Sandy soil is an organic matter “eater” and always hungry for more. If you can get leaves in your area — they will be excellent additions to the soil.
Don’t give up on the beans because eventually they’ll grow for you.
And I agree that we all need to be able to grow our produce!
Yes , CATHI, I was literally on my kitchen floor for months. Over 3 months without being able to move and another month while I was learning to get around on my feet instead of scooting on my rear end.
When I finally got to my front door and looked at my walk way grown up with weeds it rather discouraging. Next day, I went out (still scooting) and weeded the walk way.
Rather funny that my first time out was on my rear rather than my feet.
DIANNA, glad to hear you are back to gardening!
It’s always encouraging to learn that others benefit from what I write. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. It means a lot.
Welcome to TMG! Nice to have you reading.
Thanks for joining the conversation and sharing your thoughts.
You did it again!! That’s another great post to encourage many!
Have a fantastic day everyone!
Dearest Gardening friend,
Thank you so much for the “tour” and valuable information. I feel as though I was there in person and we were strolling up and down the rows enjoying a lovely summer day…
Best wishes, Alice
Theresa, I rely heavily on my winter garden here in the Northern Neck of VA. Last Sept (2018) I planted my lettuce and kale and other greens in mid Sept. It was so hot and dry there was little germination. I know germination does not take place f it is too hot -what to do?? I had been getting my seeds from Fedco
You said i your current post you have a new seed source. Could you recommend another seed source. I would like to try beets and carrots this Fall – my Spring crop was a failure – great tops but either tiny or non existent bottoms . Do you recommend any specific seed for Fall? So glad that you are doing better. I am 83 and still in the garden 4 -6 hrs a day,
I wish I could be as relaxed as you are about the weeds, especially the creeping Charlie. It makes me kinda crazy. Funny about the peas. We had the same experience. No luck for several years and then boom! This year we had plenty.
I think you are amazing to manage such a large garden on your own!!
Theresa, I love your post! It is SO real life.
Nature is our friend, and we can work with it to build our soil and our garden production.
My garden (a series of ‘yardens’ / patches of mostly vegetable annuals interspersed between perennials of trees, shrubs, flowers, herbs, and asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes) is organic (49 years), then plus permaculture (8 years), and now plus regenerative (2 years).
I was also pretty much unable to tend it for about 3 years. But my ‘weeds’ also saved me because I had established a thriving ecosystem from a beginning 11 years ago of one tree and invasive Bermuda grass covering yards and temperatures in the summers of drought – 5 of them – by making ‘islands’ of small lasagna beds and planting into them.
Healthy soil has always been my priority, and I am so glad to have been able to learn a lot about all the new info in the field of Microbiology while spending many, many days on my back with my iPad.
I do believe that as we work WITH nature and learn its ways, our gardens will become more resilient.
Thanks for being such an eloquent spokeswoman for this way of gardening. I appreciate your own resiliency and determination. You are a great model for us all, and especially for us old gardeners! God bless you!
I’m not sure I’ve gotten the hang of bindweed yet – hopefully I’ll be moving on again to my own next place before I see the results of this year’s work, but the world situation being what it is, who knows. I’m glad enough to be with my family again now rather than on the far side of the country like I was for the last 6 years! (but I did rather get used to living in my own space…. 😉 )
Idaho is so gorgeous. Went camping in the national forest last week. Just amazing. Another reason I’m glad to be here…. Took a 9 hour drive to find good wild lands from where I’d lived in Michigan. Only an hour or two here. (plus, real mountains.)
I’m excited for the broccoli. We’ll see. Peas are going crazy at least. Some of the tomatoes are taking off, and spaghetti squashes are nuts! (Zucchini less so, sadly, but I think we’ll still get a harvest.) We had an unfortunate mishap involving bindweed, the flame weeder, and the straw in my melon patch…. I don’t know if I’ll get any watermelon this year 🙁
Overall given it’s all basically ‘brand new’ veggie beds this spring – at least the veggie part – I think we’re doing decently.
I so enjoy reading your emails and looking at the pictures of your garden plants. I’m a widow also and when my husband was alive, the garden was really his domain – my job was harvesting. Since he passed (6 years ago now), my son (who lives a couple hours away) helps me with the garden. He helps me plant and then comes home every couple weeks to assist in anything I can’t do on my own and also to stock up on garden produce! He’s also helped me expand from just tomatoes and green peppers to a variety of vegetables. We now grow a wider variety of tomatoes, all the colors of bell peppers, some hot peppers and poblanos, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, beans (bush and black), zucchini, butternut squash, chard, strawberries, and various herbs. Since I’ve been retired for the past 4 years, gardening has become a hobby that brings me so much joy (and healthy delicious food!)
We have a lot of clay in our soil, but started a compost pile several years ago and add that to the garden every year. Soil looks better and better. We read about companion gardening and have applied a lot of that to the arrangement of our garden.
I am battling cabbage worms on my brassicas right now. Every day I spend a long time inspecting all the leaves and removing any worms and eggs if I see them, and using a fly swatter if I happen to see the moths. What is your secret to dealing with them? I see you used row covers. I’ve never used them, and there are beets, black beans, and herbs interspersed with our brassicas. Would they still work?
I love these kinds of posts where I get to explore your garden with you. It is absolutely beautiful!
I hope you give somemore advice on success with cauliflower and broccoli. I harvested two little heads of cauliflower for the first time ever! I was so excited. I would like to become successful growing bigger heads.
It was so wonderful reading your post and seeing your garden.
Thank you ALICE! I’m so glad you enjoyed the walk through my garden. It’s always so nice to hear from you. Let me know how you’re doing with you driving lessons when you have time. I’ve been thinking about you.
In spite of what most sources say about August and September being the time to start winter crops, I – like you – find that almost impossible most years. Even though you could get germination on some things indoors where it’s cooler, the conditions in the garden might not allow transplanting. As you said, it too hot and dry.
Last year I tried to wait out the heat. By the mid or end of September I knew I had to plant or miss my chance. (Like you, I depend on my winter garden.)
I germinated lettuce indoor. Moved the containers outside after germination and watered when necessary. Seedlings were still small when I put them in the garden about the first part of October. Since the soil was desert dry, I had to haul a buck of rain water to the garden and soak the soil.
When the soil dried out again, I hauled a few more bucks before we finally got rain. (Mature plants in my garden don’t have to be watered, but new seedlings need some moisture to get started.)
I planted a total of 3 times with about 7 to 12 days between sowing seed.
It took a while for things to establish, but I had the best winter garden I’ve ever had!
About seed sources: In the post I said, “I ordered from a different supplier each year —“ The suppliers were not new — just different than where I had purchase peas previously.
I planted carrots twice this spring and neither plantings germinated.
Some of the suppliers I use are High Mowing Organic Seed, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Bountiful Gardens, Seeds of Change, Sustainable Seed Co., Pinetree Garden Seeds, Diane’s Flower Seeds (She also has veggies.)
Fedco, and Johnny’s Seeds. These are good companies but with the way things are with seed nowadays — it’s still possible to get seed with a poor percentage of germination.
I hope to be able to offer a limited amount of my Winter Density lettuce seed to TMG subscribers this fall — IF I get enough. And I would definitely recommend that for your winter garden.
If I’m not able to get enough, I suggest ordering Winter Density from another company. It’s about the best variety for winter lettuce. (Under protection of course.)
My winter garden will include a few parsley plants, a Russian Kale or two, and collards. I may plant a few beets (I find Detroit Red to be the best overall beet.)
Hope this information helps you Mary. I’ll be thinking of you when I’m out in my garden. (It’s so much easier for me year now that I’m stronger again.)
Thanks for sharing that you had the same experience with peas that I did. It let me know that there was definitely a variable that we didn’t know about.
Don’t know that “relaxed” about weeds is the word I’d use to describe me.. I just try to be realistic, see the good part of the situation when it’s there, and be consistent in my efforts.
Creeping Charlie has driven me crazy in the past — so I relate to how you feel. The worse the soil is – the harder it is to remove it. It comes up “en masse” in my garden – so its’ not too bad.
It’s my goal to make each and every post SO real life. I think it important for readers to know that everything is not alway perfect.
Delighted to learn that your weeds saved you too!
I agree with you that it’s truly wonderful learning about what’s been discovered in Microbiology. I always knew my way of gardening worked, but as I learned more in the field of microbiology it showed me the what makes my way work.
Thank you for those wonderful compliments. They meant a lot.
Hopefully – all of us who are “older” and still gardening will be a model for all new and/or younger gardeners — showing them that gardening can be a lifetime thing.
From your description your garden is doing great! Keep it up!
ANNA, as much as you enjoy being with your family again, I relate to everyone needing their own space.
Wonderful that you’re able to take advantage of being in Idaho and visit the national forest to camp.
Sounds like to you’re doing great in yur “brand new” veggie beds! (Sorry about your mishap with the flame weeder though.)
I loved hearing about how your son helps you and comes every couple of weeks to assist in anything you can’t do on your own. What a wonderful blessing! I know that make such a big difference in your life.
And then to top it off he encouraged you to broaden your horizons in the garden and grow more varieties. (He is a treasure indeed.)
Improved clay soil is so excellent and you’ll be even more pleased with each passing year.
I have no secret for the cabbage worm. I keep a look out of course.
The results of the row covers (the lightest you can get) can go either way. If the covers don’t tear and are secured so the moth can’t get in to lay eggs you’ll be pleased with the results.
Beets, beans, and herbs are mostly self pollinating and don’t need the help of bees and other pollinators. Thus, you should be fine having them under the fabric with the cabbages. Keep in mind though that most herbs are among the best plants for pollinators. It’d be a shame to cover them when in bloom.
TONI, I don’t have experience with cauliflower. I think it exciting that you were able to get two heads. I’ll bet it was delicious.
Since I only grow broccoli every few years, I can’t tell you a lot about that either. I do know that they are a million times better than store bought.
Also, based on what I said about broccoli in the post, I think a good part of what they produce may be based in part on the weather. I’ve enjoyed mine tremendously. Have found a few harlequin bugs, but nothing out of hand.
So glad you enjoyed the post!
Thanks to everyone for taking time to comment and letting me know more about your gardens and your thoughts about the post.
Greetings! This is my first time to read your wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your love of your wonderfully created with love garden. We are on the same page with eveything you’ve mentioned. Looking forward to following your posts. We are beekeepers and I love people who value what God has given us. Content with what we have and thankful 🙂
Welcome to TMG Wendy!
Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts.
I enjoy getting to know my readers.
Love how lively your garden looks. Also love the variety in the different plants that you’re growing. Thank you for the tips! Will apply them to my own.