2009 Gardening Accomplishments

My photo’s a little fuzzy, but you get the picture (ha!). This was one day’s harvest in late September of 2009. This was the first year for our organic garden at Cinderella’s House, and I’m so glad we did it. Note: that unusual basket is carved wood, and large, a gift from my mother- & father-in-law a couple of years ago. Love it!

Jason cut the sod, not just throwing it away but transplanting the Zoysa grass sod to places in the yard that had become mostly clover and crabgrass. Our neighbor took almost all of the weedy sod and used it to fill in around his pool where he has a hard time getting anything to grow (0 in the garbage–love it!).

Jason tilled the soil, mixing in the organic mushroom compost, and built a wood border around the vegetable garden. Not tall, but enough to discourage little feet. And late in the summer, he built a rain barrel that the garage roof runoff drains into. It’s so cool. All of this except the rain barrel was paid for with gift certificates earned through our rewards credit card and MyPoints. We probably spent about $55 on the rain barrel, including the bypass for the winter months.

Our aunt & uncle gave us several hosta from their garden, which we planted on the shady side of the yard.

We had never liked the way 3 arborvitae bushes cut off the patio from the rest of the yard, so I posted them on freecycle and a sweet woman and her son came and dug them up and took them away. Just like that. It was incredible. The were huge, beautifully shaped, and any landscaper would have charged a few hundred each. I was just glad to have them go away to a good home with minimal effort.

I’m not a rose fan, but our house came with many rosebushes. MANY. and in our tiny 20×50 foot yard, it seemed like we were always getting stuck by a thorn. I also posted these on freecycle and a lovely couple who were thrilled to have them came and dug them up one day. They wouldn’t let me help, and they cleaned up after themselves. AND they sent a thank you note in the mail. Some of those bushes looked to be at least 40 years old, and knowing they went to a good home made me feel better about cursing at them for three years.

In the vegetable garden we planted spinach, bibb lettuce, romaine lettuce, carrots, 5 kinds of heirloom tomatoes, Tiger and asian eggplant, 3 kinds of heirloom peppers, summer squash, zucchini, pumpkin, sunflowers, basil, cilantro, onions, nasturtium, chives, and spinach. More sunflowers were planted in the lilly bed in front of the garage. Many I planted in the garden as seed, or started inside from seed. Peppers and tomatoes and 2 of the eggplants were bought as plants from an organic urban farm nearby.

And my mother-in-law brought me rhubarb from her garden in Maine.

We planted spring bulbs in late October. Daffodils, tulips, crocuses, and allium. Used coupon codes and sales to score tons of bulbs for less than $30.

And a giant green cherry tomato plant grew out one of the vents in our compost barrel. We think it was a tomato that a neighbor gave us the year before, because I couldn’t remember buying any green cherry tomatoes. They were yummy, and woohoo! Free tomatoes!

And someone 5 minutes away was giving away some perennials on freecycle. We took the stroller and got a white daisy, a grape hyacinth, and two different wild lillies.

Lessons learned:

I have squash bugs and they are next to impossible to get rid of. I had a few zucchini and one odd looking pumpkin, and then they killed everything. This bummed me out. I was really looking forward to one big pumpkin, and The Mr. had built a steel trellis just so I could vine it. It did vine well, with help, until it died. I think I’ll skip the zucchini & summer squash in 2010, but I may try a pumpkin again. I can’t resist!

Sunflowers do not mix well with anything else. They turned into 11-foot tall giants in the vegetable garden, probably due to all of the watering. But they sucked the life out of everything growing in close proximity, including the lillies.

For me, there is such a thing as too much hosta. Love ’em, but I’m going to take about 8 of the duplicates and give them to my cousin who needs some pretty around her new home.

Container gardening isn’t my schtick. My plants were puny, and I had plenty in the regular garden to deal with.

I want sweet pea this year. I have a steel trellis that is 6 feet tall that Jason. built for me last year, and I’m going to use that to vine it on.

Square foot gardening is great, but I couldn’t get it to work with tomatoes. My tomatoes were so tightly packed that I actually couldn’t pick some of the ripe ones without breaking off branches. This year they get a little breathing room.

No more eggplant! Turns out we’re not that fond of eggplant. A little is great, a lot is completely overwhelming. I’ll buy it at the farmer’s market. If I want it at all. Not sure we’ll have recovered from the purple onslaught of 2009.

More Strawberries! I forgot to mention we planted 3 strawberry plants in a hanging basket and wish we had more.

More Blueberries! Also forgot that I bought a male & female blueberry plant on clearance at Lowe’s. They did great, and J would pick the blueberries right off the plant and eat them.

Less lettuce, more spinach. It freezes well.

More carrots. They were beautiful while growing and delicious to eat. Also freezable when blanched.

No nasturtium this year. It took over, creeping along and choking off some of the basil and cilantro. I had to keep cutting it back, but a couple of days later it would grow right back. I will find some other flowers to plant among the vegetables that are pretty and attract helpful insects.

Find a ground cover. I had several bare spots through the year, and I’d like to find a ground cover that can grow and then be tilled right into the soil. I know they exist, I just don’t know what to use for zone 6a (or was it 6b?).

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