Jerseygator's Blog

Garden Fever

Posted in Garden by jerseygator on March 16, 2010

After just spending the weekend in Florida and enjoying some warm weather, I have a serious case of garden fever.  The only treatment seems to be glancing through seed catalogs and planning my strategy.  I have to laugh at myself a little, because at the end of last gardening season I seriously thought I would be taking a year off from the garden.

I’m still a new gardener.  I grew up in Florida, for the most part, and never really learned to garden.  My mom often had container tomatoes, but, as I never ate tomatoes (still don’t, for the most part, unless they’re processed into something), growing them never really seemed that interesting.  Our oldest son started a garden when he was about 14; he grew corn, as I recall, but my only involvement was the compost pile.  For some reason I’ve always been really into compost.  My attempts to grow flowers on our sandy, shady yard were pitiful and I eventually gave up.

When we moved to Jersey we bought a big old farmhouse in the middle of a small community.  The house sits on about ½ acre and had an above ground pool that we really had no interest in.  One Craigslist ad later, we had the room in our yard for a good sized garden.   We started small; two raised beds filled with tomatoes.  But what tomatoes!  They grew big and tasty (according to my husband) and made great sauces and salsas.  And they were pretty easy!  I was hooked, and three years ago became an actual gardener.

Our second year we expanded into the two raised beds where we had started, as well as five rows filled with more tomatoes, peppers, herbs, carrots, peas, beans and squash.  We harvested some and learned to preserve by canning and dehydrating.

hail damaged tomato

We thought we were going to have a surplus until our first real garden catastrophe occurred; a late summer hailstorm.  We lost pretty much everything except the herbs.  What heartache, and the heartache that we felt for the farmers in the area who aren’t hobby farmers like us, but who rely on their crops for their livelihood.

lettuce, spinach, snap peas

Year three we were a little smarter and did some succession planting.  We were learning what grew in our area and when.  We started with lettuce, spinach, radishes, peas and beans and had a great spring harvest.  Then our second lesson as new gardeners hit us.  Sometimes the weather just doesn’t cooperate.  We had a severely wet summer and, if not for our raised beds, would have had an even poorer summer harvest than we did.  Again, our hearts went out to the local farmers, who we support at every road-stand and farmer’s market we can get to.  However, we still managed to preserve quite a bit, which got us through the end of the year.

This year we are once again learning by experience.  It’s cool to grow a big variety of things, but it’s best to grow what your family will actually eat!  We haven’t had good luck with onions, carrots and corn.  These are plentiful and inexpensive throughout the summer and so we won’t be growing them this year.  Last year our snow peas and snap peas grew beautifully and were a big hit.  They’re back, along with limas, which we continually picked up at the road-side stands until they were no longer available.  I’ll grow more spinach and lettuces, but will eat them younger, as they keep bolting before I get around to eating them.  Jalepenos and banana peppers will be back.  And tomatoes, of course; lots of Jersey tomatoes.  Keep your eye on the blog for year four of our little farmstead.  Let’s see what we learn this year!


2 Responses to 'Garden Fever'

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  1. What a cute mini-garden. Is this organic?

  2. jerseygator said,

    Yes, we are 100% organic. As I mentioned, I’m very into compost. 🙂 I’m still learning, however, and probably kill as much as I grow! Guess that means I’m trying.

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