Garden Mama: Plant, Nurture, Wait … Harvest!

I just  came in from the garden. Meaning, I literally just walked in the door minutes ago, took off my dirt-clad shoes, and came up to my office to write this post (I’ll spare you a photo of the dirt under my nails and the mosquito bites on my legs, but trust me, I’m a hot mess). 🙂 I am so excited to give you an update on the progress of our 2014 garden that I wanted to get started right away! A lot has changed since my first post in this series. Here we go!

Every year after planting, I wait with anticipation as I watch for our seeds to sprout and pop through the soil. To me, a garden is a true test of many things, one of them being faith. I always think of this quote that has been in my family of gardeners/farmers since my grandparent’s generation: “One is nearer God’s heart in a garden, than anywhere else on earth.” Each year, you plant, nurture, and wait … having faith in the unseen. This year, after only 7 days, look what I found:

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I know, it doesn’t look like much, but I can assure you that what you’re looking at is romaine lettuce (left) and carrots (right)!

Then, one month later, this:

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Romaine (left) and carrots (right). Romaine is a “come again” crop – meaning if you cut it with scissors about 1-1.5″ above the soil line, it will grow back! #romaineFTW! Carrots have to grow for quite awhile before they can be harvested (July/August), but the greens sure do get pretty! My faith journey continues with carrots, as you never know what’s happening under the ground until you dig them up!

We had tasty success in the lettuce department this year, harvesting both red and romaine lettuce about 5 times each before we let it go to seed (or “bolt”). Believe me when I tell you that you have not lived until you have tasted fresh lettuce … I like to eat it straight from the garden as I pick it, but my husband prefers it with a little Caeser dressing, shredded Parmesan, and fresh cracked black pepper. I guess I like it that way, too. 🙂

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Gorgeous … and tasty, too!

So given the success of our lettuce and carrots, gardening looks pretty simple, right? Well, in all honesty it is, but it really depends on the year. This year, we have had excellent weather for gardens! While we’ve had some very hot days, the hot streaks have been interrupted by a few cooler days (or cooler mornings and evenings) mixed in. We have had just the right amount of rain, and not too many damaging storms in our area (out west in Shawnee). During weeks where we haven’t had any rain, my husband usually waters the garden 2-3 nights per week, which takes him about 25 minutes each time. Watering isn’t too difficult or time consuming … but weeding, on the other hand …

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Every summer, I resolve to be better about keeping up with weeding … obviously I did not keep that resolution this summer (it’s almost humorous to look at, am I right?)! Working full-time, lots of rainy weather in June, and being gone three weekends in a row did not help the situation.
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Thankfully (for our garden’s sake), I had a rough week at work followed by a free Saturday morning, so I got some much-needed “garden therapy” in late June. Two hours of pulling, hacking, hoeing, and raking later, all was well with the world (and the garden).

Now, before I give you a glimpse at some of our crop success, let’s talk about our crop fails. I mentioned in my first post that every gardener should be prepared to have at least one “crop fail” every year. Even my parents, who have been gardening for the duration of their lives, have an occasional crop fail. Usually, crop fails can be attributed to something: birds stealing the seed before they sprout (which happened to my spinach and lettuce in 2013), potatoes being planted too deep (2013), cauliflower being planted too late (2012), etc. Once you know the reason for your crop fails, you can make adjustments the next year and may find success. In some cases, you may never know the reason.

This year, I had two major crop fails – complete mysteries that I’m still trying to figure out. I planted two rows of spinach, only about three plants came up (there should have been about 50 plants), and out of four hills of green beans, only one has grown. Spinach: I covered the rows with plastic mesh fencing (raised off the soil about 2 inches) after planting to avoid a recurrence of The Great Bird Debacle of 2013, but to no avail. So, I dug up the seeds … they were all there, not sprouted. Green beans: I thought maybe birds stole the seeds or sprouts, but after digging up the hills that didn’t sprout, I found the seeds intact … any gardeners out there have any insights?

Now, for crop successes … In addition to the lettuce we harvested in June, we also had a bumper crop of strawberries and watched as our zucchini, yellow squash, butternut squash, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cantaloupe, single hill of green beans, and several varieties of peppers grew like crazy.

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From left: My husband and daughter watering strawberries; strawberry flowers promise red, ripe fruit to come; tomatoes, cantaloupe, zucchini, green beans.

And so far in July …

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From left: Zucchini…one of the most beautiful plants and veggies on earth; Sunday’s harvest; cherry tomatoes on the vine. Note: #nofilter on these images… nature always has a way with COLOR!

I’ll admit I’m just a teeny bit obsessed with photographing my garden … Obviously I’d rather take pictures of it than weed it! 🙂 This concludes post two of my Garden Mama series. I’ll be back in August with another harvest update. By that time, we’ll have harvested many more pounds of zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes, and I’ll be sharing some of my favorite fresh from the garden recipes along with a canning how-to! Stay tuned!

Hi, friends! I’m Erin and I've called Kansas City home for over nine years. I am the girl who always thought I’d have kids by the time I turned twenty-five and swore I’d never meet my husband in a bar. I moved to KC right after college and lived it up for several years as a single, working woman for a wee little greeting card company here in town. Not only did I not have kids according to my self-imposed timeline, I ended up meeting my now-husband Eric at O'Dowd's on the Plaza! I have lived all over the metro and have explored the city as a single gal, a married woman, and now as a mama to my daughter, Lilly (born October 2012) and Baby #2 (due June 2015). This city has something for everyone—artists, musicians, farmers, athletes, technologists, families, innovators, and more—which is why I love it! I now live in western Shawnee, KS where my husband and I tend to a 500 square foot vegetable garden, host barbecues on our deck, cheer for the Chiefs, and pray for the day when Glacé or BRGR open locations that are closer than thirty minutes away.