Start small, if this is your first garden in awhile, or ever. No need to plow up the back forty acres. Go for quality, not quantity. A half dozen well-spaced, well cared for tomatoes will yield a greater harvest than twenty crowded, neglected, sprawling plants.
Keep your garden as close to your kitchen as possible. You’ll find you use and enjoy it more. Next, choose vegetables you and your family will eat, that are adaptable to our growing zone, and are easy to maintain. For example, Rusty has grown okra and artichokes, both with limited success because they need extra hot weather and they weren’t his favorites. Gardeners tend to baby the veggies they love.
Choose seeds and plants wisely; there are numerous sources for heirloom and organic seeds. “Heirloom” varieties are open-pollinated meaning their offspring will produce seed that mimics the parent plant. It also means the seeds have been passed down through many generations because of their great flavor. Using heirlooms may not give you the ability to ship the produce 3000 miles across the country, so more for you and the local market.
Hybrids are fine to grow. They are defined as two varieties of the same species cross-pollinated. The only drawback, if you are a seed saver, is that their seed will revert back to one of their parents and/or grandparents.
Genetically modified (GM) seeds have been spliced with genes from other species and/or other kingdoms. The health risk to humans of ingesting GM seeds and/or eating animals consuming GM seeds is a possible cause for inflammation (heart disease, arthritis, asthma, and some cancers).
Look for the “Safe Seed Pledge” in the front of the catalog or on the website. These companies vow to keep genetically modified seed out of their inventory, although research is showing this is becoming a difficult task. What a great reason for all of us to collect our own seed, if possible. The label “certified organic” will guarantee no GMs.
Stay away from fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides on and around your seeds. Instead, be proactive with garden pests. Try fencing off your garden from large pests – rabbits and deer. Row cover helps rid the smaller ones, such as whitefly and flea beetle. Companion plant orange/yellow flowers, marigold or calendula, to attract beneficial insects that will eat the bad boys. If you mulch with newspapers and cardboard, you will battle the weeds, conserve water, and attract earthworms.
Please have fun, involve the entire family in planning, planting, and munching. Preserve the excess and enjoy the fruits of your labor year round.
Let that Sink In! Thirteen seasons ago we began remodeling Quiet Creek with reusable items. The large sliding door on the barn was replaced with two swinging doors removed from Great Aunt Martha’s garage from the 1960’s. What gems!
Their twelve panels of bubbled swirled glass reside next to the six pane door gifted by brother-in-law Joe. The second floor of the barn enjoys a support beam from brother Frank’s one hundred year old log cabin. Thus the journey began --reusing and rebuilding.
Mrs. “Sweet Thing” Willis offered some treasures from her attic and garage. Three old doors and two sinks recently were pulled out of storage and became handy fixtures highly admired by all.
Specifically, a corner sink, her husband Joe had saved from a hospital remodeling project, works perfectly in the shop. The sink stamp reads March 16, 1954 which seemed ancient to Walker and Ashton, but Rusty felt young standing beside it.
Sister Maryellen donated a sink that Rusty has been sizing up for the basement. He’s not quite sure if he’ll install that one or the one he recently salvaged from his father’s barn. The porcelain beauty came from his grandfather’s house with a stamp dating 10-27-99. Knowing that it had been collecting pigeon excrement since 1980, the ’99 was a sure 1899. Grandpa Orner renovated his bathroom in 1930; so it likely was removed from another after thirty years of suds.
We predict five generations of hands will be washed in that sink, thanks to the “reusing” mentality of many folks. Let’s continue the legacy of passing down high quality items from one remodeling project to another.