I’ve Learned My Lesson

I’ve always loved gardening, planting plants and seeds then watching them grow. Playing in the dirt is relaxing and hard work at the same time. Dirt and plants don’t talk out loud to you, don’t ask questions or care how you look and are just content to have you pay attention to them. Since moving to the Pacific Northwest from the Midwest, I’ve learned a lot about the way plants grow here. I’ve read books and talked to Master Gardeners. I’ve paid attention to the weather patterns, discovering that while everyone believes it rains every day here, it doesn’t. Our late falls, winters and springs are wet and rainy, but come summer and the tap turns off, this year with a vengeance. At present counting, we are at fifty-six days with no rain, a new record. I decided to plant a huge raised bed garden for vegetables and fruits.

I drew up plan for a large garden area with eight raised beds, four – five foot by ten foot raised beds and four – five-foot square raised beds and Mitch built them. Pretty ambitious I know, but I hadn’t had a garden in two years and was itching to play in the dirt. Well I got my wish and boy did I ever get things to grow. I was warned by experienced gardeners to be very careful when planting, because everything grows well here.

I planted one of the small beds with cucumber seeds and at first, I was disappointed at the small spindly little plants. Silly me, I just needed to be patient. The raised bed is overflowing with a tangled web of cucumber vines, hiding cucumbers that seem to grow over night.

I planted one of the large beds with strawberry plants, almost all came from my neighbor, and now I must go out every day and stick the runners back in the bed, because they’ve covered the bed and are trying to colonize my other beds. I planted three rows of green bean seeds and have already picked four buckets full of green beans and more are growing.

I bought a seed packet of zucchini seeds and a packet of summer squash seeds. Growing success is a gross understatement, because I have one five foot by ten foot raised bed covered from end to end with three and a half foot tall plants and am picking five and six zucchini a day, that doesn’t include the six to eight squash I find hiding under the giant leaves every day.

I have been scouring Pinterest and Facebook for zucchini recipes. I have been thinking of writing a cookbook and now I can write a whole chapter on just zucchini and squash recipes. I’ve frozen six bags of zucchini and squash, have learned to make zucchini spaghetti, zucchini tots and zucchini fries. I swear my hair is getting a green tint to it.

I’ve given so much zucchini and squash away to my neighbors that now if they see me coming with or without anything in my hands, they run inside and close the curtains, until I go by.

I’ve learned my lesson, next year I will buy two zucchini plants and maybe one squash plant. You don’t have to hit me over the head with a zucchini.

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And The Heat Goes On

The heat and the drought just keeps coming.  It’s like a blast furnace each time you walk outside.   Taking the dogs on walks is short and slow.  They don’t want to be out in the heat anymore than we do.  Of course this is the year that we’ve added two raised beds to grow more vegetables.  Two more beds means two times more watering, which translates to a much higher water bill.  This is a double edged sword for me.  I love the taste of home grown tomatoes, nothing like a big juicy home grown tomato.  With this drought we have to water almost every day just to keep the plants from withering. 

I’m also the utility police at home.  I walk around turning lights off, raising or lowering the thermostat and turning the faucet off in mid tooth brushing.  I am just plain cheap when it comes to wasting electricity, gas and water.  I rant on about saving energy, conserving water and recycling everything we can possibly recycle.  Mitch made and installed three rain barrels around the house so I can water the gardens with rainwater.  This year all of the rain barrels are bone dry, no water to even dribble out. 

We decided to use soaker hoses to accomplish watering more efficiently.  The problem was that the three raised beds were too far apart so we were wasting a lot of water in between.  Mitch solved this by cutting up the seventy five foot hose into three sections which he snaked through each bed then connected the spaces in between with regular hose pieces.  This has worked out very well for us.  Now we’re only watering the vegetable beds and not everything in between.  Of course the yard has gone dormant and I’m hoping will recover next spring. 

Whether you believe in global warming or not, this weather pattern sucks and I’m ready for it to be over.