Sunday, September 14, 2008

lessons learned

I played Fannie Farmer this spring and summer. And I've learned a few things that I plan to do differently next summer. For instance:
  1. Plant my rows further apart. In trying to keep my garden close to the house but outside Lucy and Linus' underground fence, I made it a tad too small. Even though my plants grew fine, it made it very hard to weed without stepping on other plants. I also encountered this:

Notice the okra is only 2" in the first photo, as opposed to the 7" and 10". The smaller okra tastes better, but since my okra plants were so close to my peas, I couldn't get on the back side of the plants. We didn't know these pods were there until they shot up even with the top leafs of the plant. Oops! I also didn't know okra would grow at the bottom of the plant. For many weeks I've only been checking the tops. Next year I'll know.

2. Plant the cantaloupe away from the peas and give it plenty of room. I only planted a few seeds, knowing how the vines like to spread. I didn't anticipate those few taking over the end of the garden and growing in and around the okra and peas. I also didn't know that they would produce more than one crop. After we harvested our first two (the third I picked too early and it wasn't good),I thought that was it. After mowing down the finished peas Saturday, dear hubby informed me that I had killed a baby cantaloupe that was growing among the peas. Note to self: look before you cut.

3. Grape juice and me are not meant to be. For the third straight season, I have tried to make grape juice. Season one was bitter and had to be used within six weeks. I'm not a big juice drinker anyway, and that wasn't a good idea. Season number two, I wasn't overly crazy about the recipe's taste. So I had a new recipe for this year, and I was so excited. Here's how the first batch turned out:

Juice when you go to bed; jelly when you get up.

And this is what it SHOULD look like: liquid.

Only one of 8 juice jars did not turn into jelly. And the sad part? I think it actually tastes better than the jelly recipes I've used in the past.

I'll probably plant my garden again next spring. I'll keep the okra and cantaloupe and tomatoes, try some different peas and beans. Who knows? I might get ambitious and try some winter veggies (lettuce and turnip greens) as well. Maybe. But I think I can officially give up on grape juice after this season. I think there comes a point in time when you just have to quit.


gypsy@Hebrews11:13 said...

Was that your grape juice we had tonight at church? :) Can't help you here, I'm such a non-gardening, non-canning person. You need to teach me a few things! My mom wants to know if you want any pears...she's not even attempting to do anything with them and they will just go to waste.

Monica said...

No, I think the Welch family canned that...I'll get back to you on the pears.

Jennifer said...

At least you have a garden!

sara's art house said...

Good job! You are learning so much! Our garden didn't do so well- or rather, it did OK for the deer- they enjoyed our tomatoes :)