Gardens - Tell me about yours. All I deas are appreciated.

By VickieF Latest Reply 2011-07-04 10:36:39 -0500
Started 2011-06-28 01:36:56 -0500

I have two gardens with the help of three of my grandchildren( ages 10, 7, 3 1/2. lol Also, My Oldest Daughter has been picking blackberries. She washes them and drys them and puts them in freezer bags and into the freezer they go. lol She keeps a few out and smashes some and mixes them in plain yogert. Yumm. I planted Strawberries this year and We share. I give her a couple bags of strawberries and she gives me a couple bags of blackberries. Within the next couple of years we should be pretty much self suffichent. They are getting chickens and farm animals for food while I raise the garden stuff. We plan on canning or freezing just about everything we grow.

58 replies

jayabee52 2011-07-03 21:33:16 -0500 Report

I am not in a position to have any kind of garden. I live in an urban area with street people wandering around, and no way to even have a container garden since the whole complex is xeriscaped. My windows face north, so no sun shines in (which is good for AC bills in the summer here in hot Las Vegas) not good for growing things indoors.

But I have had some excellent gardens back in the day. . .

in one of the places I lived we had a church behind us with a half block side yard.
I convinced the fella who mowed it to dump his grass clippings on my property instead of in the dumpster throughout the cutting season (easier for him) and we used the clippings to mulch and smother any weeds.
We really had a lot of deep mulch and we had to rent a tractor to till it all in (plus the leaves we dumped there) before the winter freeze.

The result: fantastic snap beans, tomatoes and peppers that year! We canned a lot of tomatoes as tomato sauce. I had discovered a way to reduce the liquid from the tomatoes without a lot of cooking. I posted this in the recipes section if you want to check it out here:

We raised 3 boys pretty economically through the gardening and the canning my ex and I had done. Would still love to be doing it, but life is what it has become. But those were good memories and my sons still reminisce about our gardening exploits.

Graylin Bee
Graylin Bee 2011-07-04 01:54:33 -0500 Report

How great to get free mulch and soil building material. My gardens have all started with high plains hard pan. The first year my husband always had to use a pick axe to make holes for the plants. Then after five years of mulching every thing I could into the soil, plus adding bagged humus and more bagged mulch, it was really fantastick soil. Don't have a yard or any place in our 1 room for a plant. But I did visit Home Depot and taste a couple of Stevia leaves off a few of their plants. Maybe one day I can have a room with a sill big enough for a few herbs. Don't plan on being in a position to have a garden again. My last yard had all garden. It was watered by a drip emitter system and thrived through several years of drought with one of the lowest water bills in town. The beagle used to get to the tomatoes before we could. The robins ate most of the chokecherries, sand cherries, currants, and gooseberries. The cottontails and jack rabbits enjoyed whatever they wanted of the herbs. We were allowed to enjoy sharing it with them plus a few garter snakes, toads and a turtle. We moved some of our plants from one house to another. We had a few sage (culinary not prairie) that were over 20 years old. The several varieties of Bees and Bumble bees spent many Spring and Summer days in the gardens. We even had Sunflower bees. Some days the yard was full of Painted Ladies, Monarchs, Tiger and Western SwallowTails, and 5 to 7 other species of butterflies. Besides the robins, hummingbirds, western meadowlarks, Lewis Woodpeckers, Tanagers, Lincoln Sparrows, Mourning Doves, Cedar Waxwings, and a Coopers Hawk would visit us.

jayabee52 2011-07-04 09:51:30 -0500 Report

that sounded delightful with all that nature visiting you, it seems.

Your post reminded me we used old garden hose we scrounged from the city dump and other places. We put it under the mulch to water that garden. We cut slits in the hose every inch or 2. we got Y hose connectors we could turn off and on as we needed. and worked up a network of hoses to supply the water so we could leave those hoses in place. We had that garden for about 2 years, and it was really prolific. We had bought gareening books over the years like "square foot gardening" and intensive gardening so we had a lot of tricks we used to enhance production. And we stayed on top of the pest problem and used organic methods.

These gardens were in south central Nebraska where the environment was naturally quite dry and the farmers had to pump water from the Ogallala aquifer to water their corn (the main crop there) and other crops. A little further to the north and west the aqifer was too far down so they raised dry land wheat every other year on the 6 to 8" of rain which fell annually.

My ex kept all the canners and the dozens and dozens of canning jars and all the gardening books we had acquired over 25 years of marriage. I am sure she hasn't made a garden in probably 15 years, of course, neither had I. I came closest to putting in a garden when I was in CA with "Jem" and probably would have got a small one in this past spring, but I had to leave since she passed. But I really loved digging in the dirt and raising a garden, and I miss it.

Graylin Bee
Graylin Bee 2011-07-04 10:36:39 -0500 Report

South Central Nebraska and NorthEastern Coorado share the Ogallalla aquafer. Lived in the South Platte River Valley. The corn fields and beets got watered, but there was dryland wheat aplenty.

CaliKo 2011-07-03 19:31:21 -0500 Report

My garden started with herbs. The first year was just rosemary and thyme. Every year we plant more stuff, and this year we have rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, sage, mint, chives, jalapeno peppers, grape tomatoes, roma tomatoes, cantaloupe, zucchini and watermelon. Nowhere near self-sufficient, but enjoyable.

VickieF 2011-07-02 01:42:45 -0500 Report

Ok, today I bought canning jars and jelly jars. Tomorrow I am going to attempt to make jelly. lol it has been years. I think I still remember how. SugarFree of course.

GabbyPA 2011-07-02 08:26:55 -0500 Report

I have some video on my jelly making efforts if you want to see them go to my Youtube channel and you will see. I have made sugar free and regular. I have made plumb, strawberry and blueberry. I am wanting to try peach this summer...wish me luck.

CaliKo 2011-07-03 19:31:59 -0500 Report

My grandmother made the best ever pear preserves. Wish I had learned how she did that.

VickieF 2011-07-03 22:08:47 -0500 Report

Thanks Girls, you know the memories are great. I will surely check them out Gabby. Thank you.

clj01 2011-06-30 15:59:05 -0500 Report

We have a small garden, just a few vegetables and herbs. Just picked peas this morning and they are being frozen for later use. The birds enjoyed our strawberries. We have had lots of radishes, and have carrots that are coming along quite well. Probably the best crop we have though is weeds. I guess that pulling weeds makes us appreciate the vegetables more.

NavyNerd 2011-06-29 23:46:57 -0500 Report

We have a couple community garden plots and I use a lot of container gardens around our home. A big part of mine are herbs, garlic/oinions, and things I can use for teas. Wiith stevia, tea is a freebie drink for me, and I just can't get enough, iced or hot. We grow black and raspberries, strawberries, tons of tomatoes and I have spinach going all year round, because i have gluetn intolerance issues, and switch out the larger spinach leaves for break and make wraps :) We also grow a lot of cucmbers and peppers, pumpkins, and anything I can get to grow. We also grow tons of beans and since our kids/my husband like them only french cut, I tried several green bean frenchers and finally found one I liked, then filled our freezer with vacuum sealed bags of them :) We have a big family so teh more I can grow the less I spend at the grocery, so I grow as much as I can!

VickieF 2011-06-30 01:54:36 -0500 Report

Thank You! I love the I dea of the community gardens. Several years ago the middle school where I lived had a garden that the students, parents and teachers tended. The vegies and fruit were donated to the church that had the food bank for the needy and to the senior center. lol I had forgotten that. I love the container gardens. I will do that myself this winter. I do not have time to do both the gardens in the yard and in the house too. Thank you for sharing this with me and all of DC.

Flustrated 2011-06-29 16:42:31 -0500 Report

Small garden around house, just flowers. I'm getting tempted to put brussel sprouts in there and not tell no one. We have an association. Tomatos took over to much and looked bad. I'd like to start basil and other herbs. It would have to be flower pots. It would be fun to add flavor to food.

VickieF 2011-06-29 17:52:13 -0500 Report

Did you know that the beautiful purple ornimental cabbage is edible. Just saying they look so nice and *. lol Next year you might like to try some pretty plants that you can still use for food. I think to it would be fun finding them online. You know, no rush or anything just time to look.

GabbyPA 2011-06-29 17:59:57 -0500 Report

You can also make a rosemary hedge. It is an evergreen and smells WONDERFUL when it is trimmed. I just have one plant, but I would like to do an herb hedge.

Dev 2011-06-29 12:45:25 -0500 Report

The only garden I have had since I moved to NYC is container garden. It occupies every possible window in my house. I had chilli peppers till now. I also have coriander (cilantro), mint and oregano. It is nice to have fresh herbs. Because of the small space I don't grow any veggies. i tried last year but the small quantity I will produce is not worth it. I had planted lettuce that worked well too. replaced that with coriander now.

Most other plants I have are flowering plants and some I have so that I can see some green in winter. It is awfully depressing otherwise after Fall. This year I also grew saplings of various flowering plants and planted them along the roadside/footpath.

GabbyPA 2011-06-29 18:03:45 -0500 Report

Try broccoli (if you like it). Once you harvest the main head, it will give you tiny little broccoli stems that you can harvest for weeks. Just off of one plant. It stays neat and tidy, and always green. So it won't get scraggly like tomatoes or cucumbers. Another one that is beautiful is egg plant. The plant is beautiful and the flowers are great. Then it will explode with fruit, but stays so nice and green.

Dev 2011-07-03 09:08:53 -0500 Report

Thanks Gabby. I might try the broccoli next. The coriander and lettuce work well exactly for the same reason. I can keep picking up parts and the plant keeps going for a while :)

I used to have eggplant in my mother's garden and my memory is that it takes up some space, somewhat like a tomato plant. but the flowers are beautiful. May be I will give it a try.

I should try to find seeds for the smaller eggplant varieties we like to eat so much in India. They are really small, the size of a plum tomato or smaller. yum.
We are not allowed to bring seeds from India through customs otherwise I would have brought some seeds of the veggies we don't get here so easily.

Does anybody know how to get/save seed from eggplant? Does it have to dry/mature on the plant?

GabbyPA 2011-07-03 19:08:46 -0500 Report

I have not saved eggplant seeds yet. All seed saving should be from a mature "over ripe" fruit that you can leave on the plant as long as possible. I have the long skinny white ones, and they have been very fruitful. I also have the traditional one the large purple one. That one is not as fruitful, but I will have a few egg plants off of it. I used some tonight in my sauce for lasagna. More veggies than meat...and no one has to know. LOL

MrsCDogg 2011-06-29 07:41:06 -0500 Report

The only garden I have this year is a hanging basket of herbs, and two tomato plants that my dad gave me…:o)

Mistletoe 2011-06-28 22:59:37 -0500 Report

I have had a garden almost every year since we moved to the country and have a few acres of land. This year we have 12 tomato plants (various), bush green beans, yellow squash, zuchini, bitter melon (good to balance diabetes), watermelon, cantaloupe, bell peppers, 4 stevia plants (will see how they do), greek oregano, pineapple sage (it's delicious), Multiplying onions and regular green onions, flat leaf parsley, thyme and chives. I love all fresh vegies and fruit. I have found that using fresh herbs makes food taste sooo much better! I dry many of the herbs so I can use them all year round. I freeze the green beans and freeze grated zuchini also. Just waiting for the garden to produce this year, can't wait! Mmmmm.

GabbyPA 2011-06-29 18:04:36 -0500 Report

How do you grow bitter melon? Doesn't it require tropical weather?

Dev 2011-07-04 07:21:47 -0500 Report

You can plant seeds inside in April. replant them in sunny locations after it is warmer outside. Harvest till September. It is a hardy plant. Doesn't need much care or good soil. Just sunlight. :) It is a vine, you will need supports etc.

VickieF 2011-06-30 01:59:23 -0500 Report

I have never heard of bitter mellon. What is it and how do you use it?

GabbyPA 2011-07-01 09:42:15 -0500 Report

It is a tropical "fruit" that tastes pretty bad but is supposed to help with glucose control. I would imagine eating it fresh would be better than taking a pill, unless you have to eat a ton of it.

Dev 2011-07-04 06:09:27 -0500 Report

It is not that bad Gabby if you know how to cook it. I haven't ever cooked it but my aunts and mom have cooked it for me millions of times and it tastes really good. The trick is to marinate it with something sour/tangy to cut the bitterness. I think in our family recipes we use tamarind. There is some stuffing with roughly ground peanut or coconut and tamarind and a little of jaggery, red chilli pepper powder (Cayen pepper). that you stuff inside a hollowed bitter gourd. tie it with a thread for some reason and then keep it to marinate. Will ask the exact recipe.

Found this page about bittergourd recipes that might be interesting in the meanwhile
They are all recipes from various Indian cuisines. I haven't read all of them. But some like bitter gourd slices are easy to prepare to see if the taste agrees with you.

GabbyPA 2011-07-04 07:41:05 -0500 Report

Great! Thank you. Where would I find seeds for that? My typical resources are pretty "traditional" and that is not in our normal diets.

VickieF 2011-07-02 01:35:11 -0500 Report

Hey, it can't be any worse than that darn berium swallow test I had to do last week. LOL

VickieF 2011-06-29 17:55:27 -0500 Report

Yes,it is very nice and tasty having fresh herbs. Sounds like you have a really nice garden.

edvel54 2011-06-28 19:34:13 -0500 Report

I plant and the weeds grow and the other plants die.
I did plant cherry & yellow tomatoes, I have been using them for the last month. The plants are beginning to die, it is just too hot here. 109 today.
I also have some herbs and they seem to stand the heat along with my roses.

I would like to plant more

VickieF 2011-06-28 22:32:49 -0500 Report

Maybe you could get a couple of 5 galon bukets and fill them with Top soil and then plant you your favorite veg/fruit. That way you could maybe find a place for them that was only in the direct sunlight part of the day. Just a thought.

Jim Edwards
Jim Edwards 2011-06-28 16:21:28 -0500 Report

Are you ready for this? I will start making our own dirt this fall! We have shale. Have to get the week wacker out about 4 times a year. Not much grows in it. So we will start with leaves, fertilizer, and compost and till it in. Probably 2 years before we can plant much. We do have some tomato plants & pepper plants in an old cast iron tub and about 20 tomato plants that started on their own in a raised bed that I filled with bought top soil and compost. I suspect these tomato plants will be cherry tomatoes as they grow like weeds!

VickieF 2011-06-28 18:28:21 -0500 Report

MMM! Cherry tomatoes. Composting is great. I have a part of my garden that I have not planted. I have a pail with a lid on it in the house by the back door. I put my coffee grounds, egg shells, vegie peels and such in the pail. When full I take it out to the garden and dig a hole and put the stuff from the pail in it. This will all be tilled in this fall. It seems to work well because the worms and nature break it down faster.

alanbossman 2011-06-28 08:01:01 -0500 Report

Between my daughters house and mine we have about 73 tomato plants, we planted romine green and red romine,peppers,cabbage, Brussel sprouts,squash,potatos, yams, cucumbers,celery,and spinach.

VickieF 2011-06-28 15:48:18 -0500 Report

Wow! 73 tomato plants! Your garden sounds awsome. I have 3 yellow pear tomato plants for snacking fruit.

alanbossman 2011-06-29 09:00:50 -0500 Report

We have about 6 tomato plants that are low acid for my wife so she can enjoy tomato's. She has acid reflux.

VickieF 2011-06-30 15:35:25 -0500 Report

I have three yellow pear tomato plants for the same reason. To much acid in the cherry tomatoes. At least this way we get to munch on them and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. lol
The red tomatoes I can make a sandwich once in awhile, but mostly use them for canning for sauces and such.

re1ndeer 2011-06-28 04:10:27 -0500 Report

I container garden now that all the children are grown. I planted this year, Tomatoes (2 kinds-regular and patio) carrots, Bell peppers, green beans, Kohlrabi, and zucchini.

I also have a herb garden (love fresh herbs when cooking), planted this year, parsley, sage, thyme, basil, and sweet marjoram.

There is nothing like fresh vegetables (and fruits), they taste so different than store bought.

I wish I could garden all year 'round, But, living in a northern central state, are growning season is shorter than most other states.

I wish I had space to grow more vegetables, I'm not a spring chicken anymore (LOL), so To do all that work, I just could not handle it.

Thanks for posting this discussion.

VickieF 2011-06-28 15:50:52 -0500 Report

Awsome! Container gardens are great. I have been thinking about doing a few container tomatoes in the house for during the winter for salads.

GabbyPA 2011-06-28 03:40:07 -0500 Report

I wish we were neighbors! I have a lot of posts here about our garden and it is a great way to get back to basics.

I love it because we don't use any pesticides and we use heirloom seeds so we know we are getting the best nutrition available out there. Being diabetic has made me want to do this more than ever. I want more control over what I am eating and this is a great way to get exercise and healthy food all at the same time!

If you want to see what we did, I have recorded it all on video and you can visit my channel on YouTube.

Our garden is coming to an end, we are harvesting tomatoes and eggplants now. Our melons are running late, but we hope to have a nice harvest of those as well. We are always experimenting with things and like you are aiming for self sufficiency. I am not sure we will be there, as our garden is limited in size, but we are doing a lot with our little raised beds.

We just started with bunnies as well. Can't have chickens in the city. But we have friends who have the chickens and we all share back and forth. One thing that we are very big on is saving our seeds. We had some stellar squash this year. They were as big as baseball bats! Well almost. Anyway, we have been saving our beans, melons, squash, onions and broccoli seeds. It is tedious to do some of them, but important in knowing how to keep your crops going.

VickieF 2011-06-28 16:00:34 -0500 Report

Gabby, I love the way you put your raised gardens in. I totally agree with the saving of seeds. My first husbands father taught me how to save tomato seeds. My grandma showed me how to save many seeds too. I wish we were neighbors too. We would be self sufficient. My daughter lives five miles away and has 10 acers. I have 1 1/2 acers.
Close enough to remain friends and not to close to get on each others nerves. lol
With the land they have they can have the animals. I only have enough land to plant gardens. So Gardens it is. I hope you find like I do, how relaxing it is despite the work.

GabbyPA 2011-06-29 18:08:54 -0500 Report

I love working in the garden. It is relaxing that is right. It is hard work as well, but when you get to eat what you grow and share it, there is such a sense of satisfaction in that. My garden is starting to die out now, and I hate that part. It is kind of sad. I have to dig up my potatoes and see if any grew for me. I have never had them before.

VickieF 2011-06-30 02:32:33 -0500 Report

Only dig up what you want to use for now. Try doing one or two hills if you get enough for a few days. Then when you need more go and dig up more. The ground seems to preserve them much better than them being in the house. up north years ago people would only dig what they needed for a few days and cover the rest of the hills very heavy with straw to insulate them from freezing and would have potatoes all winter. And when the tomatoes were done but still loaded with green ones, they would put them in wooden boxes with straw in them and put them in the pantry or a darkened room where they would have ripen slowly. Thus they had ripe tomatoes and fried green tomatoes most all of the winter. I did almost the same thing last fall and had ripe tomatoes even for Christmas dinner.

GabbyPA 2011-07-01 09:44:12 -0500 Report

Oh, that sounds great! Down here in Florida, even our home is 80 inside, so I don't have a "cool" place for anything in the summer but in the fridge. But that sounds interesting and is a good thing to remember.

VickieF 2011-07-02 01:40:08 -0500 Report

Last year when I picked the last of my tomatoes I placed them in a dark plastic tub with a lid. I wrapped them each in paper when I put them in the tub and put the lid on. Then I kept them in the spare room and shut the heating vents to that room and used them as needed.

VickieF 2011-06-28 01:42:46 -0500 Report

By the way I have planted greenbeens, squash, cantalope, potatoes, peppers, cabbage, carrots, onions, tomatoes, musterd greens, and watermelons.

T.J. Purdy
T.J. Purdy 2011-06-28 12:24:46 -0500 Report

I have always had a garden. I was raised that way. Loved the freshness and it saves money at the store. It's alot of work but I love it so I don't look at it as work. Good job.

VickieF 2011-06-28 16:02:35 -0500 Report

Nothing tastes as good as the fresh fruit. Nor as sattisfing as the fruits of ones own labor.