Monday, November 11, 2013

Longest yard: Lessons in gardening

Sunday was a new day. It was a day without running, a day with no agenda.

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It was a day to finally tackle the tasks that have been staring at me in the face but were easily brushed off because there workouts to be done and miles to be run.

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Albeit brisk, it was the perfect chance to tackle the yard and my dead and ignored garden.

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We (read: mostly Mark) spent the better part of the morning raking leaves, and I pulled out the dead tomato plants from the raised beds. Unripened fruits were thrown in the compost pile, cages put in the garage and leaves raked over the beds for natural mulch.

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I think there are some metaphors to running in there - spending a season trying to grow something, letting the work ripen and hoping to make a good sauce - but I tried to think about anything but the day before. Rather, I chatted up Mark about what I learned and what we could do next year.

  • Making raised beds isn't all that difficult but they do require far more soil than you'd think. I am hoping to add another bed to the yard next year, and I will check into having soil delivered to the house.
  • Raised garden beds, at least here in Indiana, produce a much better crop than gardens in the clay soil. My tomato plants in the raised bed were much more prolific than the others in my original garden. The lessons: I need to start amending the soil in the original garden and give more space to the plants in the raised beds.
  • Beans were not the best plant for me. I felt like I needed more plants than I had to make it worthwhile to care for.
  • My squash plants didn't do well this year, and I missed having fresh zucchini. Lesson: Find better ways to keep Denali out so he doesn't sit on the plants. 
  • Canning is not as hard as I thought it would be. It's a bit time consuming getting the process down but once you have it, you have it. I definitely want to plant more based on what I can can. I'm thinking cucumbers (Denali sat on the plants, as well) and maybe peppers, like homemade roasted red peppers.
  • Last but not least, I need to not give up on the garden at the end. I had plans to put in kale and radish seeds but never got to it. Some roasted kale chips would be nice right about now.
Did you grow a garden? What lessons did you learn?


  1. I don't have a garden currently but plan to in the future. Love the lessons you shared! Gave me something to think about for sure...

  2. We need to build more raised beds here at the new house. Early this year I dug, filled with wood, and mounded up a couple big hugelkultur beds I built on contour. Unfortunately the deer decimated my tiny buddies I lovingly grew from seed all spring. :(

    Hopefully we only need to buy one more large load of compost for bed building and dressing. Then the chickens' deep litter we're accumulating with carbons can supply the rest.

  3. My husband does a garden at our house and it was so sad to see the unripened tomatoes thrown away. They were so tasty this summer. I agree with you, he neglected it at the end when we could have had some good late summer/early fall vegs.