When we lived in Michigan, I REALLY worked hard to get my garden started every year. Each year I tried to make it better. Raised beds–Check. Black plastic–Check. Irrigation system–Check. Great compost–Check. Tall deer fence–Check.
It just never lived up to its potential: Small tomatoes, small potatoes, wormy broccoli, raccoon-eaten corn. And on and on and on. Sigh. It always was a great tragedy because I’d start the garden each May with such high hopes.
Can you guess what they are?
We lived on a heavily wooded 7 acre tract in southeastern Michigan and we just didn’t have enough sunshine. My garden was surrounded by beautiful full century-old oak trees that we couldn’t bear to cut down. As a result, the garden got full sun for only part of the day.
The second ingredient is more difficult to guess but equally important. I worked 10 hours each day and had a 30-45 minute commute to and from work. I’d come home tired and usually wouldn’t get to the garden to check on it. On the weekend I’d go out and madly water and pull weeds. I’d also look to see if any pests were after things, but often I’d find that damage was already done. More than once, I checked on the garden to find the plants wilted and very stressed when we’d forgotten to turn on the irrigation. Too busy.
Florida natives tell me that usually the great weather starts in early November, but El Nino made last November and December hot and rainy. This almost killed my tomatoes, but now they’ve recovered IN A BIG WAY. It is so motivating. I just counted and have over 100 baby tomatoes on my 5 plants, with hundreds more coming. We had the first 2 in our salad last night–They were sweet and juicy and so unlike anything you get at the grocery store.
My plants aren’t stuck off on a side lot. They are close by, where we can see them and check on them several times each day. If they are even a small bit thirsty, I notice and give them water. If pests are present, I use non-toxic means to take care of them right away. They’re in a screened area, so I’m less concerned about big caterpillars eating the broccoli leaves down to nothing the way they did in Michigan (I’m still traumatized about that!), but I check them each day.
I’d like to be able to produce enough so I don’t have to buy my vegetables from the store. That’s my goal. So part of what I need to learn is how much of each plant I need to grow.
I put the kale in a ‘Recycle Casserole’ that used up some leftovers I had from a family gathering we held on Saturday evening. We juiced the broccoli leaves with some grapefruit, oranges, turmeric and ginger and had it with dinner.
Here’s how I made the broccoli:
Saute garlic in olive oil until soft. Stir in herbs and saute for 1 minute. Add broccoli and broth. Cover for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper and serve.