Wednesday, June 12, 2013

New Things

Great things have been going on in my garden...almost without me lately. I've been so busy and overwhelmed that I have had a hard time spending a peaceful moment here without being bombarded by the barrage of things I have to do...none of which involves my passion for gardening. It has been hard but if I can muster up enough energy, I have tired to spend a few minutes immersed within my oasis.

We have tried to expand outside of our comfort zone even more this year by trying a few more new things. I've already told you about the sunchokes we are planning to grow (our order keeps getting pushed I hope we get them in time to plant this season) but there are a few more we have decided to take a stab at.

We are trying to grow Hops this year. This was Cam's choice; he said it was because they are vigorous growers, but I think he may have an ulterior motive. Whatever his reasoning, I'm excited to see how they do.

We originally purchased a gallon pot with several small plants peeking through the surface of the soil. We placed it in the earth directly next to a post of our pergola and waited. As the temperatures rose, so did the height of the hops! Every day you could see how much it had grown, twisting itself around anything it could reach. The post to our pergola is 6" X 6", quite stalky, and hard for any vine to wrap its new tendrils around. Cam took note of this, and since this is his plant, he took charge. He brought out every piece of bamboo I possessed and used every ounce of twine we owned to create a support trellis.

He did a great job! It looks good and the vines love it!!

We are also trying new summer and winter squashes (Thelma Sanders' Sweet Potato Squash and a type of patty-pan squash, along with all of my usual squash suspects: delicata, acorn, Hubbard, butternut, buttercup, spaghetti, pumpkin, zucchini, crookneck, and perhaps one more :) We did fairly well in the winter squash department last year but I seem to have terrible luck with the summer varieties! While most people are over-run with zucchini, I was only able to grow three small squashes. That's it. The rest of the blossoms either died before they produced fruit or the fruit dried on the vine before it even reached an edible size. I am extremely disappointed in my past years and I am hoping this year will be different. I decided to plant them in a completely new area with fresh, well composted soil. I hope this leads to a bumper crop! I love zucchini!

Have I mentioned melons? Yes, we are even attempting these as well! With our short growing season, the average melon doesn't have time to reach maturity or its full flavor potential. This usually leads to a very small and under ripe fruit by the time our first frost hits. So I sought out some very early and cold hardy varieties that I hope will prove to be winners! I've got a couple types of watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, a tiger melon, and an early silver vine melon. This will be a first for me so I will keep track of what works and what doesn't...always learning!

I also have new types of heirloom tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, and carrots that we are trying, but one of the last things I'm really excited for this fall are the two new plants I just got today. My co-worker, and dear friend, brought me a few of the new plants she is trying in her garden this year: gourds! While they're not edible, they are extremely cool to put to practical use. I remember my grandma showing us how to make birdhouses from the ones she grew in her garden, or paint them for a vase, or use them as a watering can. But somehow over the years, I have overlooked these gems. So when I was given these wonderful little seedlings, I eagerly accepted them, and am so excited to see how they do. I would love to be able to decorate them for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Easter!!

These are the two types of gourds I was given to plant in my garden...I'm excited!!

I cant wait for the consistently warm weather that summer will bring! Our nights are still dipping pretty low (35 degrees last night!) so a little respite will be such a refreshing change! Whatever the days ahead bring, I welcome them with open arms. I want to live everyday with appreciation and anticipation...newness greets us at every sunrise and sunset and I want to make the most of it!

What are you trying in your gardens this year? Are you going out on a limb with anything new or are you sticking with your usual? Do you have any suggestions or advice for me? I love any and all help/suggestions/words of encouragement you want to share!



  1. Question and a thought: How do you grow so many varieties of squash all together without them cross-pollinating? (If I grow more than one, they all come out similarly shaped and tasting like dirt!) And as for your zucchini problems, that sounds like a pollination issue, as well. Many pollinators that specialize in squash will avoid a summer squash in favor of a winter variety. (Strange but true.) Carry a male flower to the female and "engage" them, or use a cotton swab to carry the pollen. Works like a champ! Looks as if I'll be doing this for everything this year, because all of the bees we had in April were frozen out in the May hard freezes! :(

    Blessings, and thanks for sharing your joys and challenges.

    1. This is an awesome question! Having such a small garden with so many different varieties means that cross-pollination is inevitable. However, all is not lost. The outcome of this years cross-pollination will not be apparent in this years harvest, but in the seeds of the fruit/veg. harvested. It makes seed saving pretty much a shot in the dark as far as what might sprout from those seeds come next spring!

      I'm sorry you have had squash that taste like dirt...that outcome would make it hard to want to attempt it again in my book. For the last two years though, I've planted 4 or more varieties in close proximity and haven't had a problem...other than them setting blossoms! So if you're willing, try it again! I have had pretty good luck with the hubbard, sweet meat, and spaghetti squash varieties.

      Thanks for the info about the zucchini too! Hopefully by moving them, I can lure bees from another part of my garden. Otherwise, I'll head out with swab in hand and pollinate myself :)I'm praying the bees will return and take care of your garden so you don't have to!

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing!