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Column

Garden of plenty

In May, I wrote about my husband, Tim, buying and fixing up a used tiller for me. I grew up gardening with my Grandpa and Grandma Rodgers, so I have always wanted to plant a garden of my own at my own house. The tiller helped Tim and I pave the way.

We started small. We tend to have busy schedules, so neither of us could devote the necessary hours it takes to maintain a big vegetable garden. Additionally, I’m not an expert gardener yet. I hope to learn more as I try to grow different veggies. I did know enough to get started.

The wet weather at the beginning of spring delayed planting, but I was still able to get the majority of the vegetables I wanted in the ground. Tim and I started with a one slicer-type tomato plant, a green pepper, grape tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, broccoli and onions. As our harvest is winding down, I can safely say we had a successful crop for everything we planted except the onion. I think those were washed away in all the rain and were never really able to set down roots.

The broccoli was an experiment. I had never grown it before and wanted to give it a try. We produced several small heads of broccoli, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. It may just be a one-time trial for Tim and I. What it did produce was delicious, but I was just uncertain if I was harvesting the crop at the right moment.

Our pepper plant was a near bust. I have seen varied success with peppers throughout the years. I think our grape tomato stole some of the plant’s sunshine. With the sprawling vines, it wasn’t able to get the proper sun it needed. We did get one nice sized pepper from the vine, which I chopped up for omelets. Next year, I will definitely space things out a little different and hopefully have a better product.

By far the most successful plant was our grape tomato. It sprawled out over more of our garden than I had anticipated. I’m used to tomatoes like Big Boy and Beefsteak tomatoes, so I wasn’t entirely prepared for it. However, the tomatoes were sweet and made for excellent additions to salads or just as a quick snack. The vines still have quite a few green tomatoes on them, so we may have a few more to pick before it gets too cold for them.

The zucchini and cucumber were also successes. I tried to get both to grow up inside of cages instead of out in sprawling vines. It worked to a certain degree. I think Tim has an idea to build sturdier cages to hold the heavy vines better. I’ll let him run with it. Tim has some of the best “Mr. Fix-It” ideas.

The last time I grew cucumbers, I ended up with a ton of them. It was more than I could give away. As I planted this year’s crop, I had the grand idea to attempt to make my own pickles if the crop produced the same amount. Alas, the cucumber produced just the right amount to slice for salads and sandwiches without many extra to spare. Maybe I’ll get to try that pickle recipe next year instead.

We didn’t get an overabundance of zucchini like some do with their harvest. Of course, we only had one plant but I think the harvest was just right for Tim and I. I tried different ways to cook the squash. Tim was a good sport about it, he ate everything I prepared. He would much prefer I just shred it and bake with it. I think our plant is done for the year, but I still have some shredded in the fridge ready to be made into the next batch of bread or bars.

The garden experience has been great over the spring and summer. I think Tim is hooked on the fresh produce, so hopefully we can have continued success in the future.

Contact Pam Pratt at pampratt@newtondailynews.com

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