For years I have wanted to grow my own vegetables both because I love gardening and because I love food. Here is where I will chronicle my new adventures (and undoubtedly misadventures) in the garden.
I really enjoyed planning the garden and went through many variations. It was exciting delving into the world of companion planting.
I became obsessed with the idea of growing Okra, a testament to my love of gumbo and other southern food (and to my time in New Orleans). Unfortunately the Pacific Northwest is not ideally suited to Okra which needs lots of heat. I was able to get 10 Okra plants sprouted from seed but once I moved them out of the house to prepare them for the summer they withered and died in the cold. I will not be led astray though, my new plan is to plant them in raised rows between the snapdragons and onions once the weather gets nice and warm. Raised rows help provide some of the much needed heat for the Okra.
We spent a lot of time messing around in the dirt. The garden is shared between our neighbours and us and we are starting with just once section (to get our feet wet). Our little section had a large layer of dense clay a foot or so under the dirt which was partially dug out to make room for peat moss and compost. This mix was then tilled repeatedly and added to until we were happy with the composition and nutrients.
Things that grew well:
- Leeks - slowly but surely they grew and survived through the winter
- Chamomile - grew so well it took over a whole corner and we had to cut it back a few times.
- Herbs - due partly to the fact that they were transplanted when they were already well established.
Things that didn't grow as well:
- Okra - I've now learned you can't fight nature, there is a reason Okra is prevalent in the South and not here on the West Coast.
- Squash - I think I transplanted these too early, they were small and without the nutrients and big afternoon sun they stayed that way.
Thing's I've learned:
- Arugula grows easily but bolts quickly in the heat, better suited to container gardening.
- Staring at squash blossoms will not make them open.
The plot has been tilled and all that is left standing are the leeks that stick out like an oasis in a very dark desert. We'll have to come up with a plan to build more nutrients into the soil this year. That corner plot is notorious as a slow grower due both to its low nutrients and intermittent afternoon sun.