So this year is the first year that we as a family have really buckled down and had a productive garden. My wife and I got married while I was in college, then I joined the Army where we lived in an apartment in town, and we moved back to Kentucky in the fall. We tried to plant one on property we own elsewhere last summer, where my parents live, but not being close to it proved to be a deal breaker. We managed to get some peppers out of it, and lots of turnip greens, and that’s about it. The deer ate the corn and the birds ate the tomatoes. The grass almost took it once or twice because my wife and I were both working full time. The rabbits ate just about anything they could reach. All things that could have been prevented if we had planted in a more accessible location where we could keep an eye on it and maintain it.
Right now we actually live on property that we are renting a few miles from the family property where my parents live. Part of the reason I was hesitant to plant a garden here last year, even though my landlord told me he didn’t care a bit, was because I just didn’t want to go tilling up a yard that was “technically” somebody else’s. He told us to go for it again this year, so this year we decided to plant our garden here, and it has done MUCH better. The convenience of being able to just walk out the door and go weed it, dust the taters, till/hoe up fresh dirt, etc. has proven invaluable in raising a healthy garden. We’ve already harvested some of the onion greens, although I’m going to leave about 3/4 of the onion plants alone so that they’ll hopefully form bigger bulbs. We’ve harvested some of the lettuce and mustard greens as well and they’re both already back with a vengeance.
The only pest problems we’ve had so far have been tater (potato for those of you who live north of the Mason Dixon) bugs. The tater plants got pretty large before the bugs showed up, so I haven’t had to do a ton of work to control them because the plants are so big that it would take a pretty large infestation to cause any real damage. I dust the plants occasionally around sun-set and the dew that collects on the leaves kind of makes it stick to them and stay on longer. It has been doing a decent job of keeping the tater bugs away until it washes off with the rain.
The garden has been a family project, although with a wife that is literally ready to give birth at any moment, the majority of the burden has been on me. She was hoping to be able to plant some pumpkins and watermelons, but feeling overwhelmed with the garden and feeding the dog and mowing the grass and generally trying to take care of things, including many things she physically cannot do at the moment, I never got around to planting them. I may plant a few just to see if they take, but we’re pushing it a little bit, and may be too late.
Anyway, I just thought I would share a quick story about my family garden and some photos. The garden has served as a project for our family, from myself to our 3 year old son to participate in. It is something that with some hard work and dedication has proven that it will probably yield more than enough vegetables to last us through the winter. We’ve already begun to harvest some of them, and have given away quite a bit to friends and family. It’s one more way of being self sufficient. Not only does it build a strong family bond to work hard on something together and see it do well, but it also reduces your dependency on others. It has put better tasting food on our table, and there’s just a certain amount of satisfaction that comes from eating something that you grew in your own back yard, not to mention the lower price tag at your local grocery store when you don’t have to buy things like lettuce or spinach or corn or tomatoes, etc. It also builds valuable life skills in children, and gives them a very tangible reward for hard work. It’s something that can teach them the value of both hard work, and patience. They have to realize that although their hard work will pay off, they will have to wait to see the results. I think that is a valuable lesson to instill in today’s world where people are more and more conditioned to instant gratification.
This evening I went out and did some maintenance on the garden. It has needed it for a day or two because I noticed some of the onions were starting to pop out of the ground, so this evening I finally got around to weeding, tilling and hoeing the garden. The only thing I didn’t bother was the lettuce because we got romaine and iceberg lettuce, both of which are hard to weed because it just kind of grows everywhere, and the grass grows in with it. The lettuce appears to be out-growing and killing out most of the grass, so rather than spend hours on my knees picking out individual blades of grass, I just left it alone.
Below are some photos we took today while out working the garden.