The 2005 season brought with it more challenges than I ever could have imagined. Spring was far too wet and cold, followed by drought from May through September. None of my new tricks that I tried to beat the squash bugs worked, and for the first time ever, I didn't even get one zucchini! Not because I didn't try-I even tried the moth balls-but it was to no avail. I re-planted 3 times and not one plant ever lived long enough to make a bloom. (I've been promised some "snake oil" that will work for next year. The certified organic famer that I buy my grains from likes a challenge and I've given him one.)
Then just when I thought things were looking up and I was in the midst of starting to do the canning of the salsa, tomatoes, and green beans for winter, I fell ill. This was no simple matter of being sick in bed with the flu or a cold and loosing a week or two of work. This was my body coming to a near hault and crying out for help. I ended up not only visiting the emergency room, but having surgery as well. The gardens were left to fend for themselves, the grass went unmowed, the baby trees unwatered, and my house unkept. (It took 5 people just to tend the animals in my absence.) In the end, I only managed to put up 32 pints of slasa and 6 quarts of green beans. Not one quart of tomatoes for this year. The apples did not get preserved and I dried only about half of the herbs I had intended to dry. Not all was a loss though. I did manage to put up enough pesto for the year and I have more than a years supply of pickles! I would have to say that this was the worst growing year I have experienced so far, but I was giving away cucumbers for my friends to pickle and still had untold amounts of cucumbers go to the compost.
|corn, beans, cucumbers, garlic|
I went vertical with my planting this year. I bought some bamboo stakes and set my imagination to work. I wanted to try building a trellis for the cucumbers, cages for the tomatoes, and teepees for the pole beans. I will not use the bamboo for the tomatoe cages again, but the other ideas worked and will be improved upon next year. Growing on the vertical plane not only gave me more room in the garden, but it kept things a bit neater and easier to pick. I will buy a roll of concrete reinforcing wire next year for the tomatoes. I would like to find galvanized wire as it will not rust, but my attempts to do so have been in vain. To build my structures, I simply pushed the bottom of the stakes through the hay into the ground until I felt that they were firmly planted. I then tied the tops of the teepees together and tied on cross pieces for the trellises and cages using the twine harvested from the bales of hay. It actually worked out very well. Next year I know to use a lot more vertical stakes for the cucumbers. The vertical stakes are definitly the key element in having a stong structure to support the heavy vines.
|12th Street Rose|
A friend brought over roses for me to plant on my fencline around the garden. What a delight! He brought over an unidentified rose that he had rescued (affectionatly called the 12th street rose), a rosa blanda, 4 prairie roses, and a Harrison's yellow. They have all grown well this year, are working on covering my fence around the garden, and are even sending up shoots near by.
All of them bloomed this year except for the Harrison's yellow. In fact, the Harrison's yellow didn't do anything that we expected it to, and it wasn't long before we were wondering what it really was. It seems that I actually got a boysenberry plant! Have you ever tried a boysenberry? For starteres I've never encountered a more wicked thorn on a plant. I've been stuck by that plant so many times it isn't even funny. My skin always has a reaction where I get stuck too, but I have discovered that the fruit of this plant is well worth the effort to harvest it!!
We put a fence around the house this year. I got tired of the chickens digging up my herbs and flower beds and having people walk through, on, and over my herbs. An arbor was added as an entry into the yard and up to the house which helps to control the foot traffic and make the entry to the house more obvious. It helps direct people to the correct door of the house as well. The front door of the house goes onto an enclosed porch and is not the main entry that we use. If people do come up to that door, or into the front porch to the internal door, they have a straight line of vision through the front room, across the hall, and into the bathroom. It is quite a start for everyone when someone comes up to that door and is looking in the house at the moment someone comes out of the bathroom after taking their bath... The fence is made with wood stakes and a plastic mesh fencing that looks sort of like snow fence. It is fine, lightweight, and black in color. The fence can be seen through and from a distance is not even noticed except for the wood stakes. It works great for keeping the chickens where they belong and directing foot traffic. I planted passion flower on either side of the arbor. What a treat!