Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Harvest Happenings

           It is late summer here in Western Maine, and that means that this season’s harvest is almost over! This year’s crop has brought us an abundance of garlic, peaches, and tomatoes (and, of course, zucchini!). And so, we thought it would be the perfect time to answer some of your more popular gardening questions.

Lynda and Bill, each holding a platter of this year's garlic crop!

             First off, did you know that Bill actually studied botany and cooking in college, not jewelry making?  It’s true! Bill attended SMBTI for Plant and Soils Technology: which means he studied horticulture (mostly plant identification). He has been an avid gardener ever since he was a little kid. Long ago, when living in Fryeburg, he grew nothing but perennial flowers. It was only when Bill and Lynda moved to Lovell that he began to grow his own vegetable garden.

            And what a garden it is! Folks, we often show you our front lawn and the gorgeous flowers that Bill can coax out of our rocky ground, but it is not that frequently that we unveil the back lawn. Spanning 1,300 square feet, the vegetable garden provides enough basics to last throughout the winter and next spring: namely veggies and herbs like green beans and garlic. Bill tends to two raised beds, one in-ground bed, various pots of herbs, and several fruit trees that are scattered throughout the back yard.

A few of our herbs!

            How do you go about starting up a garden though? Surely you can’t be expected to jump in the deep end and start up a garden of that size? You are correct: if you are just beginning a garden, keep it small! Whether the purpose of your garden is for home-grown food, or just for fun, taking on
 too much land to handle can quickly become a nightmare. The innocent and unassuming beginner gardener frequently underestimates how much work is involved in maintaining a garden other than watering and weeding.
            So start small. Begin with just a couple vegetables that you will use and enjoy (and will happily continue to use and enjoy multiple times over during the plentiful harvest). Plant these in raised beds to help defer critters, and think about adding an irrigation system. This could be as simple as a bit of tubing with holes poked in it!
            Begin your herb garden small as well: perhaps just basil and parsley to begin with. Herbs can be easily grown in pots, and so lend themselves to quick and simple maintenance. Fruit trees can be somewhat tricky to maintain at first, but they are well worth it. After the initial tedium of protecting your trees from disease and bugs, they require fairly little maintenance. The hardest part about tending fruit trees is the long wait between harvest seasons!

Our wonderful peach tree!
            What we really want to get across is that gardening should be pleasant and gratifying! And it is only when gardening is made enjoyable that it is truly rewarding. If you don’t want to spend long hours toiling in the dirt under the hot summer sun, don’t! Work in window planters or flower pots. Install an easy watering system to make lazy days a breeze. Don’t plant too much so that the processing (watering, weeding, picking, canning, freezing, etc) overwhelms you and sucks the joy out of an otherwise pleasant summer afternoon.
            As the years roll by and you grow accustomed to the trials and tribulations of growing your own food, then think about expanding your garden. Some additions will naturally fall into place: planting a few more pots of herbs, adding a new lettuce that will fill out that wonderful salad of yours, etc. Others, like the decision to buy a fruit tree or to begin a sandy pumpkin patch, will take more thought. Either way, keep it fun and stay healthy! Have a great rest of the summer!
Bill and his prized 8ft sunflower!!


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