In the Garden: 7.1.2013

Garden-1

The combination of hot, humid days, and warmish nights have really helped my garden take off.  The photo above was taken exactly one month ago, and the photo below a week ago, and today the garden is even more lush and verdant.  In fact, this week we harvested our first zucchini, cucumbers, broccoli, and basil.  It is so wonderful to once again be able to cook a meal that we grew.

Garden-2 Garden-3

Ella’s garden (above), doing particularly well. I am convinced it is because she sings to her plants in such a sweet melodic voice.

Garden-4

The hot, humid Missouri weather has introduced me to a whole new aspect of gardening: pest management.  In Oregon, if you were vigilant about picking off slugs, and had a solid deer fence, your garden would fare well.  Here, I am combating cabbage moths, lace bugs, and cucumber beetles, and everybody tells me to watch out for the squash bugs and tomato hornworms.  While we slept, a large mammal (probably a skunk) crept through the fence and ravaged the garden, tearing into the sides almost every bed.  Oddly enough, not a single plant or fruit was eaten, which is why I suspect skunk over raccoon. I imagine the skunk was hunting for grubs, of which we have plenty. You can see the damage in the photo above.

Pests aside, the garden gives me such pleasure, and it is a joy to walk it each morning with Ella and Everett at my side.  Ev scouts out new green tomatoes and hunts for the last remaining ripe strawberries, while Ella hand-pollinates zucchini and creates flower bouquets.

What is growing in your garden?

 

Starting Sweet Potatoes

Gardening in a new climate is both terrifying and exhilarating.  (And yes, I do realize that these are strong words, but I get a bit worked up about my garden!).  On the one hand, I feel like I’ve just landed on another planet trying to figure out what works here and what doesn’t.  When is the best time to plant?  What about the rain that falls in the summer time?  What kinds of pests will I encounter?  Luckily, I have many knowledgeable gardening friends in the area, and they will undoubtedly coach me through my first year of Missouri gardening.

In the exhilarating category are all of the new plants that I will be able to grow: watermelons, big bell peppers, eggplants, corn, and sweet potatoes!  After gardening in a cool creek side hollow for 13 years, I am ready for some full sun exposure and warm weather crop success!  Last week, I learned it was already time to start sweet potatoes.  I found some good resources online (this link and this one were helpful), and enlisted Ella’s help in beginning some sweet potato slips.

Since I’m brand new to this, I’d recommend consulting other more experienced folks for more fleshed out instructions, but the basic steps are to place a sweet potato in a jar of water, and fill it so it covers about half the potato.  You can hold them in place with toothpicks.  Set the jars in a warm place and check on them occasionally to replace or add water.  In a few weeks, the sweet potatoes will grow leafy sprouts on top, and roots into the water.  (The next step, which is rooting the slips, I’ll share in a few weeks!)

Sweet Potatoes 2Sweet Potatoes 1  Sweet Potatoes 3

I’d love to hear what you have going in your garden, or what your plans are for the coming months.  And if you have experience gardening in the Midwest, do you have a favorite watermelon, corn, or tomato that you grow?  Please share!  I’m getting ready to place a seed order and welcome any suggestions.

And, in case you have not done so already, I’d love for you to enter my giveaway for a copy of the book Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes.  The giveaway ends tonight, so hop on over to this post, and share a comment to enter. If you want extra chances to win, you can share my blog post on social media, “like” Homestead Honey on Facebook, or join my email list.  But be sure to come back and comment again to let me know you’ve done so!!  I’ll announce the winner later this week.

Have a great day!

Teri