Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Gardening Woes

Since this year is my first attempt at veggie gardening, I've much to learn. I've never been much for gardening because the soil is thin, hard as nails, full of caliche, water is scarce, and the soil must be heavily amended with good soil and compost. The reason for starting a veggie garden is I'm tired of reading about this vegetable, fruit, etc. is recalled for this reason and that. In addition, food prices are going through the roof. Even the farmer's market is high -- I paid $14 for six tiny, scrawny ears of corn and two pounds of tomatoes. However, to give the woman her due, she had tomatoes, and I've yet to harvest one good tomato from my tomato plants.

I am now a fan of the local radio gardening shows. I've started haunting any and everyone that knows anything about growing stuff, veggies in particular. Last week I learned to use straw as a mulch instead of the red (probably dyed) mulch sold at the local home center. The red mulch looked very pretty surrounding the veggies in the Backyard Botanical Garden. I thought it was a cedar mulch which accounted somewhat for the red, but the more I thought about it the more I realized it had to have been dyed. Hmm, common sense tells me that it is not a good thing to be around your veggies. In addition, red mulch absorbs the heat, which the veggies do not need in Texas summers.

I noticed that Marianne of Onion Creek Farms, a local farm stand in the area, used a light sprinkling of straw around her veggies in the fields. There is plenty of hay around here with the cows and all, so that is the next step in trying to produce more than a few zucchini. The first step was to pull out all the red mulch which was done yesterday. Not to waste, however, the red mulch was placed around some trees.

My dad's tomatoes plants produced many, many tomatoes. Needless to say, I wasn't interested in growing anything at the time and never asked how he did it. :D I am seventy, but you never get to old to ask your parents a thing or two. Now that I am not as smart as I was, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of both my father and mother. To me, it is a celebration of their lives to remember them by wanting to ask a couple of questions. What I am saying is if your parents are still with you, pepper them with questions: they will love it.

Until next time, God bless.


Linda said...

I peppered mine with questions and I'm so glad I did. In 1980 on a walk through the family cemetery asking questions I made pictures of the family's gravestones.

Now, some 29 years later, my mother is gone. This spring I was notified that cemetery was planning a celebration and hoping to relocate any unmarked graves. My family had two. One is a grandmother buried in 1901 with only a field rock to mark her grave. That rock is now covered by the sands of time. No one would know anyone was ever buried there. The other is another grandmother but she's easier to locate because she's buried next to her husband.
Every family member had stones except the two mothers.

I'm happy to say that as I write this two stones are being installed at these graves, paid for by my generation of grandchildren. I live in Oregon, the cemetery is Wesley Chapel in Erath county Texas. How did they know where to put that one stone? I was able to find a picture from 1980 that gave the clues needed to locate the stone in the correct place, 108 years late, but it's done now.

You can never ask enough questions of your parents, never.

DJan said...

The salient phrase, "if your parents are still with you." Unfortunately for me, they are not. And your are, STILL! I'm just a little jealous; you must have really good genes.

Trying to grow anything in Texas requires more than a little spunk. Thanks for the story, I'll be watching your pictures to see what you come up with!

chicamom85 said...

Good advice. My Mom(91) was a great gardener. I did not inherate that from her. I actually ask people not to give me plants, I kill them all.


kate said...

I pepper my mom with questions everyday! I'm fortunate to be spending a week vacation with her at Cape Cod, and considering she's survived breast cancer I don't take a moment of her time for granted.

Good luck with the garden, hay mulch is a great idea. We have a tiny lawn but I use as many of the clippings as I can around my tomatoes and other veggies, that red stuff frightens me too.



Lynn said...

Thanks, Linda, for your wonderful story. It so neat that you had the photos from 1980. I'll have to look up Erath County. Don't you just love it when things are set straight even if 108 years later. It warms the heart.

Djan, I'm sorry. I did not make it clear that both parents are no longer with me. I just think about asking those questions and I do always think of them every day.

Chic, killing plants have been my speciality; however, I'm working on changing that with this garden.
lol I want to get in control of most of my food....ok, I'm a tad of a control freak. :D

Kate, have a lovely vacation with your mom on Cape Cod. Sounds fabulous.

AL said...

Hi Lynn, great post. Same here the prices of veggies has gone up to the extent that consumers were already complaining that they can't afford it anymore, to think that we live in an agricultural country.

My dad has been a gardener since he retired from the military service, he usually use sawdust to make the soil lighter or sometimes the coffee granules which has been brewed, he mixed it with soil to make garden soil.

People here nowadays are interested in growing organic veggies and fruits in their backyards, which is safer and less expensive.



Lynn said...

Al, thanks for letting me in on your dad's secret. We are big coffee drinkers so used grounds will be easily found. The saw dust is another matter; however, it might be sold somewhere. This morning's coffee grounds will be dumped in the garden tomorrow. :D

Daisy Soap Girl said...

It is such a blessing to have parents such as yours. It's another blessing that you realize the value of their wisdom.

Donna said...

I agree about Peppering them with questions!!!
My tomatoes would put off tomatos BUT on the botton of EVERY one, it has a flat brown patch!!! It's TOO darn Hot!! :O(

Happy day sweetheart!!hughugs

SquirrelQueen said...

My dad and my grandmother were both experts at gardening. I did a lot of peppering them with questions but unfortunately not about growing veggies.
I can grow almost any flower or shrub with no problems, they will thrive.
But if I plant anything that resembles a vegetable it will be dead in about a week.
So Lynn, I will be keeping notes as you post. Maybe someday I can grow a tomato.

Butterfly Gardener said...

I wished I would have paid attention when my Grandamama was gardening and preserving her crops and ask many questions. You never know when its going to be too late.

Someone once told me to shake or brush the tomatoes with your hat to help the blooms to pollinate. Consistant moisture helps prevent the blossom end rot that Donna spoke of. I put a few pieces of newspaper down and then cover with hay for mulch in my veggie garden. But don't use the shiny paper (colored/dyed) and leave a space around the base of plant to water. Hope this might help a little.

Lynn said...

Butterfly, thanks for the info. The mulch is out and hay is down. I'll add the newspaper under the hay in the fall garden.

I was told by someone to shake the tomato plants if bees were not plentiful. Plentiful or not, I shook the tomato plants the other day.

BTW, I'm making notes on the various suggestions. Donna mentioned boron, AL mentioned coffee grounds, and now you mention newspaper under hay.

The cantaloupe looks good; squash is iffy; tomatoes...well, all have heard the whining; green peppers -- yeah, those are suppose to be green peppers;gourds all over the place; but have yet to see a cucumber. lol Meanwhile, I'm working on beds for fall. :D