For All You Younger Gardeners

For all you younger gardeners raising a family and requiring a good return on investment to justify your time, take advantage of the Fab Four of veggie production. Tomatoes, zucchini, pole beans and cucumbers all get planted one time in the spring, and you keep harvesting them all summer long. In fact the more you pick the more you get. They grow more quickly when picked small. Forget going on vacation 🙂 When you plant one carrot seed you get one carrot, but planting one tomato seed yields bushels of tomatoes. No one really knows how much zucchini a hill with three plants on it produces because some fruit hide under the massive leaves and become candidates for zucchini bread. Pole beans produce a steady flow of fruit right up until the nights start getting cold in anticipation of the first frost. Cucumbers also go on and on. Canning, freezing and pickling can be require to utilize all the harvest.

As long as you’re going to be watering a summer garden you might as well plant some winter squash. In my experience they are hardy, low maintenance and trouble free. A three inch layer of straw around the hill in the spring is the only love and care I give them. You can just forget about them until the fall frost kills all the leaves and you can walk around the garden counting the fruit. I’ve always needed a wheelbarrow to make several trips up to the house with the harvest. Spaghetti squash and Hubbard squash are big producers yielding twenty fruits per hill. Keeping a continual application of fish emulsion on schedule can result in phenomenal performance, and give you neighborhood bragging rights. I’ve always enjoyed the way the vines grow out in all directions and travel so far from the hill. Stepping over them growing across the pathways makes you feel like a successful gardener.

I looked under my garden waste burms to see if there were lots of slugs and sow bugs hiding and couldn’t find a one. There were lots of earthworms though, so I’ve started putting a new layer on top. The ground has risen up under them, creating raised beds, a benefit I had not anticipated. I don’t have enough garden waste this time of year to cover them all so they are getting coated with hay. The hay dries out quickly allowing you to kneel on them without knee pads. They are now a permanent fixture in the garden, as eye pleasing as the composted beds. Miscellaneous weeds, leaves and stalks can go under the hay, not on top. Composting garden waste without having to turn the compost pile is a bit of a revolutionary idea for me. I hope it catches on.

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