Canning

With two gardens, our freezer reached capacity in August, before the real harvests even started !

In September, we were still getting so many green beans, and tomatoes were finally coming in. A month later, here is the result of countless hours in the garden and in the kitchen:

Dilly beans, tomato sauce, whole tomato peeled, ketchup, apple sauce, salsa, pickled beets, pickles, and jams.

Busy work…

Harvest

We are finally getting some good harvests! My kitchen is hot at night from all the canning.

We are definitely disappointed in what the tomato plants are giving us, we were expecting to be buried under tons of tomatoes. We need to invest in a greenhouse and some cold frames next season.

A sea of tomatoes

To save some money, Ben built some rustic tomato frames from wood he cut in the woods with Ian. We planted over 100 plants of tomatoes in both gardens!

Garden at Jody & Ian’s

Jody had some scrap of wool she used to help the plants retain their moisture and keep the soil warm.

Growing peas: staking options

piccyfix_1302838368_img_0408

It’s the beginning of March, which means that growing season has started !!!
A crop that does really well in early spring is pea. Sugar peas, snap peas, whatever is your favorite, will probably do well even if it snows again.
Last year, we used staking poles. It worked well, but you need to have a lot of them.
We didn’t buy enough of them last year, so this year we used some old chicken wire remaining from the chicken coop.

piccyfix_1302838083_img_0406

I’ll blog on the results at the end of the season !

Watering

When I was a kid, my grandpa had a beautiful, green garden. As much as I can recall, I don’t remember him watering, not once ! No sprinkler system, no soaking hose, nothing. I rained enough that he didn’t need to do anything about water.

So when I started growing food in Utah, I didn’t really pay much attention to an irrigation system. I watered with a regular hose sprayer for 20-30 minutes per day… for the WHOLE GARDEN ! We assumed, wrongly, that if the dirt on top is wet, it’s good enough. Big, big mistake ! If you live in an area where people have sprinklers for their lawn, you probably need an irrigation system. If you already have sprinklers, good for you, you are good to go. But if you don’t, don’t panic; it will not ruin you.

We could not decide if we wanted a soaking hose or an oscillator water sprinkler. We went for both. We live in the middle of a desert, so we do water a lot. One hour before the sun gets up, and an hour when it gets down, for the entire garden/lawn.

We have friends who tried to be savvy on their water consumption this year, and we did that for the first two years. The best advice I have for you is to try it for yourself. If you start small, it will not cost you a fortune in material. I strongly recommend a timer, it is so easy to forget to water.

Good luck !

Square Foot Gardening

pict0006-982

SFG was one of the first reason we started gardening. It looked like the best way to use our small parcel of land, and it seemed soooo easy. You build some boxes (we used old blocks of concrete the old owners left us), put a mix of soil, plant your seeds, water them and voila ! The book also mention that the weeding is almost non-existent, and that you save on watering. I learned that when it comes to gardening, you can’t avoid weeding or watering (especially if you live in the middle of a desert like Utah), and it is hard work no matter what techniques you use.

I don’t hate SFG, I think it is a great way to introduce kids and beginners to gardening. But if you want to can your harvest and still have enough to eat during the summer, I don’t recommend SFG. The first year, we tried SFG. I had eight 4 feet by 4 feet boxes. It was just the two of us, and the harvest was really deceiving. I still needed to buy fruits and vegetables that year. WE spent a lot of time for almost nothing.

pict0006-91

My conclusion is that SFG is great if you don’t want to ruin your lawn by having just a few boxes to have a small veggie patch to an existing garden.

2008-06_maison-pict0006__105