Summer Garden

In my opinion, there are few things as satisfying as a successful summer garden filled with delectable edibles. 

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As long as I can remember we have always had a garden.  My father worked hard, and when he came home, he barely had enough light left in the evenings to plant, weed and water.  On the weekends, he spent many hours with the tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, cantaloupe, beets, etc.  We had the most wonderful peach tree.  The peaches were as large as baseballs, and the juice ran down your chin if you dared pick the fruit and eat it right there in the backyard.  About an hour before dinner one of us would go out and pick a bowl full of romaine lettuce, wash it and put it in the fridge to cool.  My mom would make fresh ranch dressing.  Freshly picked tomatoes and crisp cucumbers made the salad complete.

As long as Steve and I have had a home we have had a garden, too.  It started with tomatoes and green onions and grapes at our first home on the other side of town.  My dad gave me everything I needed and taught me to start my tomatoes from seeds.   A few years later, when we moved to our present home, I would quickly plan my strategy for a new garden and many new possibilities, as we now have a backyard three times larger than our old one.

My garden has gone through many transformations due to renovations over the years.  I tried this and that, and spent many hours weeding, planting and watering.  I have planted fruit trees, replaced fruit trees, and moved fruit trees, planted grapes and then taken them out.  It takes time to see what the family will eat and how much the neighbors enjoy the fruits of your labor.  I remember once many years ago taking Tyler and his  red wagon filled to the brim with tomatoes around to the neighbors letting them have as many as they wanted.

I have enjoyed sharing gardening conversations with neighbors who enjoy gardening.  We have shared seeds, young tomato plants, boysenberry shoots and recipes.  My neighbor, George, taught me to can pears, and I taught him to make boysenberry freezer jam.  He shared his special bean seeds with me, and we helped him clean up his garden when he fell and sprained his ankle.  That’s what neighbors do.  This is the first summer he has been gone…we always stopped by each other’s house to check out each other’s crops and see how the family was.  I sure miss him.

My most valuable lesson came unexpectedly one day while in the gardening dept.  There was a man from Ortho stocking the shelves.  We struck up a conversation, and before we knew it, it was three hours later.  I learned so much about how to garden from Ty in those three hours that totally changed the way I did things.  Ty shared with me how important it was to not feed the plants, but to feed the soil.  He said that plants know how and when to get the nutrients from the soil, and that we just have to make sure the soil has the nutrients.  He directed me to a Master Nursery, H & H Nursery, in Lakewood.  There, I purchased Bumper Crop, Worm Gold and Black Forest mulch.  What a difference these three products made.  They provided my worms with food, which in turn made food for my plants, aerated the soil, and the mulch kept the weeds down.  I also bought a huge bag (many huge bags) of Perlite (sponge rock).  This helps keep the soil loose and makes weeding a breeze.  Also, I never walk on the soil where I grow my plants.   Healthy soil makes healthy plants.  I could go on, but click here to read more about this subject.

Today I went out and picked ripe peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, and a few chilies.  I made peach cobbler, boysenberry cobbler, which Steve is enjoying as I write this, and tomorrow, fresh salsa.  I couldn’t have asked for a more bountiful crop this year.  The last few years I haven’t had time to plant a winter garden, but I just might do it again this year.  Lettuce does fantastic in the Fall and lasts all Winter.  I don’t plant everything the same every year, except tomatoes, but when I think back over the nineteen years we have lived here and all the things we have grown, I can hardly believe it;  artichokes, cucumbers, onions, potatoes, squash, cantaloupe, grapes, berries, lettuce, green beans, beets, and of course tomatoes from seed.  Trees include, plum (1), nectarine (3), peach (3), lemon (3), orange (3), tangerine (1), lime (1), pink lemonade (1).

I couldn’t have done all this without Dad’s inspiration, Ty’s willingness to share and George’s neighborly advice.  I’d also like to give a special thanks to Steve for adding some new and more efficient sprinklers in my garden today.  And, for some reason, I feel like I need to take pictures of everything I grow….hmmm.  Please take a minute and share something fun about your garden.


~ by joandayimages on July 11, 2010.

11 Responses to “Summer Garden”

  1. I would like to also start a kitchen garden but i don’t know where I would have it in my backyard?
    Your garden is really inspirational, Help me!

  2. Farzana, you have a beautiful yard; it’s just a matter of deciding to set apart an area. You can make it fit right in with your decor. Anytime you want to get started, let me know.

  3. great story thanks for sharing

  4. Awesome story Joan! Thanks!

  5. Hi Joan,

    That is very touching because I was a farmers daughter. I remember folloiwing my Dad out to our garden. I don’t have one now but maybe I’ll start one in his honor.

    Take care,
    Donna Brown

  6. Hi Joanie,
    I loved your story. I may have to plan a trip out to visit you and your garden!

  7. I love the pictures and the story… very inspirational. I love gardening more than any other hobby; its therapy for the soul really. My garden now is mainly ornamental…flowers– not so much fruits or vegetables. But I look forward to having more time to actually grow an edible garden!

  8. I sure wish I had Grandpa’s greenthumb! He always had such a wonderful garden. I have a spot for one, and also a greenhouse. I guess it’s time to learn and start planting. Love you bunches =)

  9. Joan,

    Just spent some time on your blog. Totally enjoyed it! And the pictures are wonderful. Made me want to reach out and just grab some of that good stuff.
    Thanks so much for sharing.


  10. I’ve been meaning to write & tell you that I got 2 quarts of berries this year. YUMMY. My mom came & spent 4 days a few weeks ago & I made us a boysenberry pie. Can’t wait to get more next year. My granddaughter Josie (10 years old) was so interested in the berries. She loved helping me pick them. The first time I thought she would quit as soon as she stuck her finger, but she didn’t. My grandson Kyle (3 years old) loved to hold the bowl while I picked them. He loved eating them even more. So much fun & memories I’ll treasure. Thanks for the vines & the thrill.
    I love your website. You’re an inspiration!!!
    God bless,

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