Here we are, at the end of November, having finally found a few free hours to winterize our raised bed garden. Like watching animals prepare their dens and food stores for the cold months ahead, the act of putting our dirt to bed was extremely satisfying. It felt right to do right by the earth that had fed our vegetables and flowers throughout the summer. With a little bit of YouTube coaching, we tilled the soil and added layers of leaf clippings, newspaper and top soil, then sprinkled each bed with a bit of iron phosphate to discourage snails and slugs from setting up shop in our garden. It felt a little bit like making lasagna...just a big, organic, dirty one.
I wrote a post in July about the hope I felt upon the planting of the garden, and I must say that it did not disappoint! Of course we did not get perfect bumper crops of everything we sowed, but we ate delicious home-grown vegetables and decorated with lovely home-grown wild flowers all summer long...and I loved every minute of it. Daily watering made me feel peaceful, tying up the tomato plants made me feel methodical, pulling rows upon rows of carrots made me feel prudent, and pickling pounds and pounds of cucumbers made me feel pioneering. There were days when neither Chris nor I felt like washing and spinning salad greens or inspecting the kale for worms, but we both are lamenting our return to boxed greens from the supermarket and can't wait until we can grow our own again! We learned so much this season and are looking forward to the promise that next year holds. A few take aways:
1. Beets are best purchased from farmers who have space to grow them big and beautiful.
2. Not all cucumbers are great for pickling. We are enjoying the pickles we made this year but will be trying a different variety (and less of them) next year.
3. The "Florida Weave" method for tying tomato plants works really well and looks very orderly until your tomatoes start to grow in earnest....when the fruit gets big, the whole system collapses.
4. Having two habanero plants is not better than one. Really, how many incredibly hot peppers does a family need?
5. Growing ingredients for summer-long salads is soul satisfying and we'll be back with more updates in the Spring.