As the summer comes to a close and another school year is just a few days away, I am saddened that my growing season for my garden is also winding down; sort of. It has been pretty cool this August in Green Bay, WI and my tomatoes and beans have been ripening slower than usual but are still growing and producing, so we’ll hope for some continued warmth into September. Yet, with my new raised box this year and my idea to grow some squash, I am happy to say that this weather will be very beneficial for the cooler season root vegetables and candy roaster squash plants that are now starting to sprout, grow, and ripen. The squash plants have been producing decently, but the cucumber beetles did wreak havoc on them but luckily they have been fairly resilient and continue to blossom and fruit here and there. My plan for these is to bake them and freeze the squash for pumpkin pies and bread that I make for the holidays.
My new wooden raised bed for growing root vegetables, along with a wash basin I use for planting, seems to be the main reason I have had more success growing these types of plants this year. Through many trials and errors I have learned a few new lessons: they NEED loose soil with plenty of compost and downward, vertical room to grow (I have been both red worm composting and backyard/barrel composting); hilling and making mini ditches on the sides of these veggies seems to really increase their growth and keeps them saturated with water for longer; thinning and spacing is key for the growth of carrots, beets, turnips, and radishes; and pinching off beet leaves seems to help them to produce more of the root and not send as many nutrients up to the leaves; leading to larger beets/turnips. The leaves are also wonderful tossed in salads and really add some beautiful color and nutrition!
With the addition of my herb garden this year, there was a lot of work to be done, but it was well worth it! The amount of pollinators and colors that filled the yard has been a beautiful and amazing sight to see. We have gotten to eat something fresh from the garden almost daily for the past few months; whether it was a small cucumber, radish, turnip, mustard green, lettuce, some sauteed beans, a cherry tomato, homemade tomato sauce on pizza, a handful of sugar snaps, herb water, a nasturtium flower, a few blueberries, or rhubarb jam it was so satisfying knowing these foods were from our own backyard! There is nothing more rewarding and nutritious, and it even, as an added bonus, encouraged my son to try carrots after he had one right from the garden! Now he eats them and likes them a lot! He also really enjoyed picking cucumbers and tomatoes and his favorite snack from the garden was small cucumber slices. He is 3 this year and the idea of mom “making/growing things” really peaked his interest and got him questioning where the food he was eating comes from. As a mother, this added a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to my gardening this year!!
The garlic chives are starting to blossom and it attracts an array of bees and butterflies; they just love them!! Watching the buzzing, pollinating, and feeding of these wonderful insects is reason enough to grow so many beautiful plants in the backyard. The children also had countless enjoyable moments inspecting and observing these creatures in action throughout the summer. Even my husband, after walking into the garden one day and stepping behind the sunflowers that reach about 10-12 feet high said, “I feel like I’ve entered a whole different world when I’m in here.” That is the ultimate reward to having a wild, trellising, viny mixture of so many different plants in this space in our inner city/urban backyard. Within moments of just walking a few feet it is literally an environmental escape into the wonderment and tranquility of nature!!
Hope everyone had a wonderful, nature filled summer!!!!