Hello friends and gardeners! I am taking this opportunity to do a wrap up of my 2016 garden. I was going to do this yesterday but I had a full day of play and an evening of binge watching Homeland. Have you seen it? It is amazing, I am not a TV watcher but I have extra time on my hands in the winter to hang out on the couch watching TV. But I digress...
I have been thinking a lot about this past year and I am sure that I am not alone in questioning what a rough year it was. That being said, I thoroughly believe that life stresses can be greatly alleviated by nature. Taking a break, putting down the phone, ipad or laptop and going outside has positive psychological and physical effects on your well being.
In 2016 I increased my focus on flowers for pollinators specifically to increase the overall biodiversity in my yard. I also took the time to slow down and watch who/what was in the garden flying around. Once again, nature has taught me some very valuable life lessons.
I started a winter garden project back in February by planting flowers and winter hardy vegetables in milk jugs. I grew Cosmos flowers in the jugs until the straw bales were seasoned and ready to be planted. As with most things in the garden, the Cosmos had a schedule of their own and spent the first six months lost amongst tomatillo and squash vines. Thankfully, by August, they took off and provided flowers for butterflies and nectar for honey and bumble bees until the first hard frost in November. A total of nine months passed between sowing and the final flowers!
HARD WORK PAYS OFF
I love potatoes. In general I am not a big carb-eater but I make exceptions for potatoes, especially those that come directly from my garden. I have grown potatoes in garbage bags, burlap sacks, garbage cans and straw bales but the best results come from old fashioned trench digging and hilling. I started early in the year and planted yellow, red, purple and fingerling potatoes, harvesting over fifty pounds. They were absolutely terrific!
LOOK FOR BEAUTY
Beauty can be found anywhere if you look for it or if you change how you look at things. I like to let herbs and vegetables grow out without harvesting them to see what the plant will do, what flower will appear and which insects they will attract. My favorite of 2016 was Borage. Borage is an annual herb that attracts many bees and can be added to salads. I found a recipe and made a fresh tasting spread for crackers or cucumbers and will post the recipe at a later date. Anyways, look at the absolutely beautiful flowers that it has! This flower was tucked away in an overcrowded herb garden and I almost missed it. Once again, stop and appreciate what is around you.
FIGHT WHEN YOU NEED TO
As I have said before, my garden is a peaceful and healing place. In my garden I choose not to use chemicals to control pests. I do spray to prevent mildew and have tried powders to control slugs but I choose to create biodiversity and use cultural controls such as row covers and planting schedules to control pests. 2016 will go down in my mind as the year of "Judy Plier vs cucumber beetles". They were off the chart terrible this year. I will explain about them in more in an upcoming website section called Garden Jerks but for now I'll just say that I hate them. I spent literally HOURS in the early mornings and dark of night with a tweezers and scissors killing them.
Not to brag about my prowess or anything but one day I even plucked them out of a flower with my left hand while holding a cup of coffee in my right hand. The following picture is a little blurry but it is a good time to note that 99% of the photos on this site come from my own iphone camera. They may be less than perfect but they are mine.
I have to be honest, every year when the garden is finally put to sleep I take a deep breath and go inside. I am happy to be there and eagerly commence house cleaning, organizing, cooking, reading and enjoying the holidays. This year was different. I feel unsettled. I am nervous about my country and for the environment and it hurts to hear negativity and fighting day after day over politics. As I said before, I finished my gardenRN work space and purchased an Aerogarden. I am now 60 days into growing with the Aerogarden and I love it. It is not perfect and if you are thinking of buying one feel free to talk to me about it, but it has given me a diversion and something to look forward to. It is green and healthy and growing which in turn gives me peace and hope.
THAT'S A WRAP
So with all of that, 2016 is a wrap! The dogs are begging for a trip to the park and are driving me crazy. It is cold out there but we all feel better after a brisk walk. Only 132 days until the last frost! Peace to all of you my friends.