It was a very good year. I got a late start, only planting everything finally around November 1st, 2012 but within a couple weeks everything had sprouted.
Radishes were the first up and also the first thing ready to eat. I planted them by drawing a line with a trowel and sprinkling the seeds in. They get way to crowded that way and need to be thinned out so these days I just use a small twig to poke holes about an inch apart from each other and drop a seed in each one.
It’s super exciting to see stuff come alive. I would go out each morning in my underwear holding a cup of coffee and look at what had come up over night. Specially after all that work I had finished, if it hadn’t burgeoned like it did I would have been majorly bummed.
Such humble beginnings. Like I said I didn’t know what I was doing so I planted a bunch of everything all over the place. Lettuce, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, you name it. If I was buying it at the supermarket I got the seed pack and planted it at home. I also tried throwing out seeds from stuff I got at the store. Surprisingly, a good amount of it took root. All the cherry tomatoes were from store bought where I just opened the thing up and squirted the seeds out all over. The potatoes were just from a bag of organic potatoes that started to get wrinkled and sprouted so i dug a hole and put them in.
This is from February 2nd, 2013. Phoenix‘ growing season is reversed from the rest of the country, everything dies in the summer from the heat but usually only gets a light frost in the winter. So far that’s my experience but we will see this year.
In this section I didn’t do rows and just sprinkled out the seeds. They sprouted and quickly crowded each other but still grew full size broccoli, the cilantro and spinach underneath actually grew just fine and had almost no pests on them. Companion plants anyone?
Here I spaced bok choy and green cabbage. I still didn’t space them far enough because they grew right over each other a few months later, in fact this whole first season was a lesson on how to overcrowd your plants. Diseases and pest set in later on which will be my next post. For the time being though, everything was going great. Here’s a pretty good sized cabbage I got out of there a couple months later.
I even tried artichokes (my favorite flower to eat) but all I got was one tiny but delicious choke.
In march 2013 we had a hail storm and a good couple nights of what I thought was just below freezing. Supposedly it never got below 32F but nothing got frost bite. I didn’t use any cover or heater or anything. I don’t have any to use. The pic shows frost on my lettuce and I think the thermometer might have been a little off.
This is towards the end of march and you can see it’s relatively unscathed. The bok choy are coming to a head but i’ve already been eating the outer leaves for three months now. So far I planted in November and haven’t bought a single bit of produce since January. Totally awesome!
Here’s some good examples of what I was pulling out of here everyday by April:
The prize of any gardener seems to be the tomato, and it’s no different in Phoenix but they do seem harder to grow here than other parts of the country, especially the heirloom tomato varieties. I had great luck with the cherry tomatoes and some hybrid yellow tomatoes but only got a couple really good big ugly heirlooms.
I also got a great amount of pumpkins 18 total before the squash bugs moved in.
You can also see on the right the popcorn which I made my own hybrid by combining the organic yellow corn with a native blue popcorn variety. It was successful and I harvested almost two pounds of popcorn from about 10 stalks. The resulting kernals were either blue purple or half blue and yellow and quite delicious.
This organic hard red winter wheat I got form the bulk bin at sprouts, sprouted right up. I got a few pounds of it in the end but it takes so much time to grow (about 9 months) that I won’t do this again. It does go to show you though that the food you are getting wherever should be alive, I use the sprout test to see if I will continue to buy supposedly raw organic seeds, grains, or legumes from any source. If it doesn’t sprout I don’t buy it again. Food that is raw and unadulterated will grow again. I have also bought “raw” sunflower seeds from sprouts that were from China, not a single one sprouted. My guess is they were irradiated, still “raw” but also dead.
There is something about eating something you grew yourself that is very rewarding. And there is no substitute for fresh organic produce that is only minutes or hours old. Sometimes food can be two weeks old by the time it gets to your grocer and you will see the difference the first time you have a salad out of your own garden, or if you come over here for dinner. There is no going back for me. I wanted a garden so badly because the state of food in the U.S. is abysmal. What passes for wholesome ingredients by the FDA actually can cause many diseases. Some of the “approved’ ingredients are banned in almost every other country in the world, and that’s going directly into your food and then your body.
I’ll leave you with a couple of the dishes I made in 2012 using what veggies I grew my self.
- Simply Sprouting (thedailysheeple.com)
- Seeds, Intentional and Otherwise (urbanorganicfarming.wordpress.com)
- So what’s with heirloom? (growingmagnolia.wordpress.com)
- Tips for Growing Heirloom Tomatoes (gardening.answers.com)
- A List of Over 100 Heirloom Seed Suppliers (wakingtimes.com)
- Tangerine Radish Sprout Salad (canned-time.com)