For the past several years I have wanted to start a vegetable garden. It was impossible when we lived in an apartment in DC, since we didn’t have an outdoor space. When we first moved to Texas I had a few failed attempts at growing tomatoes, and really at keeping any plants other than cactus alive. It’s just too dang hot here! You need to water several times a day. Now that we moved into a house with a front porch and a little bit of shade, it was time to try again.
I’ve had some success with keeping our new front garden and a few containers of tomatos alive. We started talking about the vegetable garden and Brett surprised me for Mother’s day by building me a 8×4 raised garden bed!
It turned out to be a much larger project than we anticipated, but it has been worth the effort. He built the trellis at the end, and we purchased the wooden one. My sister suggested we got a drip hose and a timer, and I’m so happy she did! It ended up being a lot less expensive than we originally thought and it has been soooooo nice to not have to worry about watering. Our plants get watered every six hours (it’s insanely hot here) for 10 minutes.
We planted malabar spinach, 2 types of cucumbers, 4 types of watermelon, 4 types of squash (green zucchini, yellow zucchini, crookneck, straightneck) one eggplant, a spicy bell pepper, a non-spicy jalapeno, 3 types of okra, 3 types of little melons, parsley, oregano and sage. Phew!
We found a great local nursery where they gave us lots of advice and where they sell only varieties that do well in this crazy Texas heat.
After two weeks:
The staff at the nursery recommended we try the Square Foot Gardening method where you mix your own “soil”, and divide the bed up into squares. We also got the book to help us plan it out, and it was a huge help! I am not too familiar with the “old” type of gardening in rows, but this method makes a lot of sense to me. There are also lots of online forums where you can ask questions and get advice, so I’m very glad we decided to go this route. While I love the idea of gardening, and have some basic knowledge and skills, planning out and maintaining this big vegetable garden is beyond my capabilities. We’re kinda winging it, and I’m sure we’ll learn a lot as time passes.
So far, the plants are thriving! I’ve been enjoying being able to go to the garden to get spinach and herbs as I need them. We just harvested and ate our first three okra last night, and have a few melons, squash and cucumbers growing.
Here is the biggest melon we have so far. It might make me a big nerd, but I just think it’s so cool watching these plants grow!
I’m struggling with pest control right now. We have a huge cucumber beetle infestation. I thought we had cute yellow ladybugs, but no… they were pests. We got some neem oil and a sprayer, so we can try to control the bugs organically. It seems to be a little effective.. not VERY effective. I still have big holes in most of my leaves and they’re just taking over most of my blooms. I’m hoping if I can spray every few days I can keep the bug population down to a level where we can actually get some fruits/veggies.
Still, even though we have lots of pests, our plants are persevering. Hopefully we can win the battle.
We harvested three Okras from the garden last night and I made some Cheesy Okra Fritters. It was my first time cooking with Okra and first time frying… and they turned out well! I took some pictures of the process, hopefully I can get a recipe post up soon.
In other news, Drew and I will be headed to Connecticut later this week for six whole weeks! We will miss Brett dearly, but I am super excited to see my friends and family, and to introduce Drew to everyone. Brett is going to come out about halfway through our trip so he doesn’t have to go that long without seeing his pride and joy. I’m nervous about flying by myself with the baby, but know that getting to see everyone will be worth it!
Brett will be in charge of the garden while we’re gone… so we’ll see how that goes!