Can you believe it has been nearly a year since I last blogged about our garden?
A lot has changed in the past year. The biggest change is that we are no longer growing food in Western Washington. Since our move to Southwest Idaho, we have been learning all about growing food in the high desert.
There were some obvious changes that occurred when we kicked up the soil in our backyard. First, we knew we were going to have to water more than we did while living in University Place. The sun is much more unforgiving in Nampa. We also knew the soil would need some extra care. The soil in our old home was always moist and ready to let me sink my garden tools inside with little fight. Not so, with the hard clay-like dirt that covers our current yard.
Craig ordered soil from Victory Greens to ensure a successful start. Our garden boxes were made by two boys living in Meridian. I found their ad on Craigslist. They offered to build the boxes for cheap as a way to raise money for their summer sleepaway camp! The boxes were delivered in late winter giving us enough time to figure out the best place in our backyard to grow our garden. We enlisted the help of our nephew Drew to get the boxes filled. It was hard work!
This year we tried to be more strategic with our veggies and herbs, but I am not sure if that worked out quite the way we intended. In one box we stuck to the “Three Sisters” method of growing corn, beans, and squash among each other. According to the Farmers Almanac the purpose of this method of companion planting is:
- As older sisters often do, the corn offers the beans needed support.
- The beans, the giving sister, pull nitrogen from the air and bring it to the soil for the benefit of all three.
- As the beans grow through the tangle of squash vines and wind their way up the cornstalks into the sunlight, they hold the sisters close together.
- The large leaves of the sprawling squash protect the threesome by creating living mulch that shades the soil, keeping it cool and moist and preventing weeds.
- The prickly squash leaves also keep away raccoons, which don’t like to step on them.
In our second box, we planted zucchini, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, watermelon, green onions and strawberries. The third box I added more zucchini (what was I thinking?), green onions, plus peas. Our fourth box was situated in an area that received shade from our fence so we planted kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. So far the kale, zucchini, and cucumbers have been thriving. The broccoli and brussels sprouts are struggling a bit and our carrots have produced very little. Gardening can be very fulfilling, but such a let down when you fail.
But that’s not all we’ve done this year. In pots, we are growing tomatoes, basil, bell peppers, cilantro, rosemary, and thyme. When we moved in there was a small tree growing in the corner. It was obvious the previous owners planted it as a way to jazz up the backyard for future buyers. We had no idea what it was until this spring when apple blossoms appeared! We still aren’t certain what variety of apple the tree is, but look forward to finding out this fall.
New this year I’ve been companion planting by including flowers in the garden boxes. The bees are enjoying it and so far the plants are too!
What are you growing in your garden this year?