Monday, September 30, 2013

Learning from a failed garden...

Since I had posted earlier this summer of my big garden plans here is the sad final chapter to my gardening endeavors. It was a big disappointment with the garden and I basically gave up at the end but as always there are lessons learned and good things come out of what we think is failure.
Here are the some things we learned and some things we plan on doing different next year:

1. Some years are just not good years. Busy/lazy summers and gardening don't mix.

2. I am humbled and saddened that I don't have the green thumb I thought I did. So far our yield has been 1 large zucchini, and 1 pumpkin  a small group of very immature corn and some small potatoes(from the field garden) Although, everything in my container and raised beds did pretty well despite the late start. which were tomatoes, basil and green beans, still waiting on the carrots. I placed an old window over the so they will continue to grow a little more in the cold.

There's no Faith like potatoes going on here!
3. Gardening in Downeast Maine is much different than what I'm used to. Cold wet spring, A very late coming summer.

4. Now that we are in a colder climate we need to get a head start planting seedlings, no more planting right in the ground. Getting the green house up and a few cold frames need to be priority for next year, if we don't decide to give up entirely on gardening..... I want to but I love a challenge too much to give up.

5. Planting clover as a green manure cover crop in between rows was not a good idea. --The weeds sprung up faster than the clover, then any clover that did come up didn't deter the deer from eating our food.

our sad lonely pumpkin.

 6.  From what I've heard from fellow gardeners and now have seen for myself: Corn is generally not a good crop for around here. We just didn't have enough time, to develop, half of it is still out there, knee high and shriveled brown.

7. Bigger is not always better.

8.  When getting excited about making a Back to Eden Garden don't bother until you've solved your
deer problems --I worked on a small portion and the deer ate the pumpkins in that spot all the way, so I gave up entirely. The weeds took over the deer came and had their fill. The End.

9. I hate deer.....we cannot have a garden in that area without a fence.

10. Its good to learn about wild foods when your garden fails, there is bounty all around us....

When I got frustrated with the garden it was right around the time we were also learning more about edible wild foods. We had gotten our little girl a book on edible plants found in Maine, its called Wild Plants of Maine a Useful Guide by Tom Seymour, we began reading it and finding these things. We also looked online in different resources to double and sometimes triple check that what we picked was actually what was described--(you do have to be very cautious and don't take my word for it do your homework).  We all were amazed at how many familiar plants that we see everyday that are edible and not only edible, actually tasty.

Here is a salad we made from greens found on our property, violet leaves, blueberry leaves, red and white clover, chives, jewelweed and forget-me-not flowers.

We loved going to the ocean during the summer, much bounty to be found there, rose petals from the rosa rugosa for rose petal honey--not to mention all the rose hips we made jelly out of this fall.

This is Sea Rocket, a delightfully spicy mustard plant just growing everywhere on the edge of the sand.

Here is just one of the common garden weeds we steamed up and ate. Lady's Thumb needs to be steamed about 10 minutes, and is a very nice green.

Here is Green Amaranth, another very common garden weed, we had this one in abundance and it replaces spinach quite nicely. I read it freezes well but didn't get to it this year. 
There were others we tried too; like curly dock, which has a very surprising tangy flavor, quick weed another garden weed that almost had an artichoke-y taste, and goose tongue (Plantago Maritima)which is found where fresh water meets salt and it so good I ate the whole pot practically myself (I also read this freezes well and plan on collecting a lot more next summer), cant forget the all famous dandelion greens, which are a little bitter for my taste but I love the blossoms...the wild blueberries we picked, raspberries and blackberries...the beech peas were tasty, they didn't make even it home but were eaten raw in the car.
We also learned a little history as well that these were common things for our great grandparents to eat during the great depression era, they were so sick of eating these common wild pants so much that this wealth of knowledge has largely been forgotten. --So even if we failed in the area of gardening we have certainly had fun seeking out all these new foods. I have always said how bored I was of the same old food found in the grocery store week after week.
hmmm? what will next year hold in the area of gardening, an entirely different approach, most definitely. We are in the process of clearing more trees close to the house to do more with raised beds next year. I still plan on trying the Back to Eden approach and maybe I will get my greenhouse up...That is the plan anyway.

We have apple foraging to do this week at a very old orchard we found so we can put up some jars of applesauce and make some cider with our friends who have a press.

God Bless <3

I've added this post to a farmgirl blog hop if your interested in joining or, seeing other farm related blogs.  

1 comment:

  1. Great Blog, sad and honest and love how you moved on to the wild edibles - that salad pic is so beautiful, and the greens I tasted when I was there in July -( the one you fund at the beach that sort of looks like tarragon), were very delicious!! I think the raised beds near the house sound really good, and will be close enough to deal with the weeds. Hope the greenhouse comes together. Here in upstate NY thereis a WONDERFUL farmers market and some of the local growers are selling through the winter their greehouse greens, so I am checking that out, Sprouts area wonderful way to do salad too, right from the kitchen, and I bet the kids would like them, my favorite is lentil sprouts. You know I think I have some pics of gardens that "failed" too - our first year in Charleston the garden got abandoned - but God was still faithful to give us a few lone vegies like you had... I am praying about doing a garden here , I think I want to start an herb garden first with some containers.. Wonderful to learn about all the wild foods, maybe next summer the Kids can take me on a nature walk and teach me..


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