Saturday, August 31, 2013

County Extensions

gardening in the suburbs....

When we bought our first house in the mid-west  it came with a fairly substantial backyard.  A yard that we quickly realized would consume the better part of a weekend with mowing, weeding and trimming.  So we started turning sections of the yard into garden space.  The rationale being that if it was going to take up our time, then it had better be contributing to the family's welfare.

We gradually turned ourselves into quite the little "suburban" farmers.  I say "we" loosely, since my husband and kids did most of the work.  I was just in charge of making sure the mint plants didn't get out of control and that the basil got processed into enough pesto to get us through the winter.

The rest of the family however, managed to produce the following over a 3 year period:
potatoes, corn, squash, okra, eggplant, kohlrabi, okra, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, okra, spinach, brussel sprouts, okra, broccoli, cucumbers, raspberries, okra, watermelon, pumpkins...and did I mention? ...okra...

Seems that okra loves heat.....and Kansas....
Two years and a new state later and I think we STILL have jars of pickled okra around somewhere.

Now we have a different house, in a different mid-west state with a different yard and a different schedule.   If we were going to have a garden this year, I was going to have to be the one to get it done.       Out of the four of us I had the most time, but the least amount of experience.   Last year my total yield was: basil...and some dill....which basically grows itself.  So there you are.
I at least knew enough to NOT plant okra.

Did you know that there is a weed called "Stinging Nettle" that stings?

Did you know that there is such a thing as overwatering?

Did you know that you can plant seeds too deep?

Did you know that there is such a thing as under watering?

Did you know that there are 92 different insects that wait until just before your plants are ready to produce food before they decide to devour all the foliage?

Did you know that when a seed package says "full sun" they don't really mean "Iowa full sun"?

Did you know that there are 64 different kinds of mold/mildew that can infect your plants and that all 64 have a different cause and a different treatment?

Did you know that $2.98 of my annual property tax bill goes to the state agricultural extension phone line?  And that you can call that number to get answers to your pest/mildew/gardening questions?  And that I didn't find that out until AFTER the summer was almost over?????

So my beans were semi-successful

My basil is OK

My cilantro, peas, raspberries, lettuce and rhubarb all seem to be surviving my bumbling attempts at being semi self-sufficient this summer.

The one thing that seems to have escaped my grasp this gardening season are the sunflowers.  I had pictured tall yellow flowers following the sun with their bright cheery faces throughout the day.  These bits of joy in my garden were to be the final incentive to continue with the weeding, feeding and watering through the hot weeks of August.  They were to be some of the last color lingering in the backyard as we head into fall.

It is true that they are tall and yellow.

It is even true that they have bright cheery faces.

It is NOT true that they follow the sun.

Not MY sunflowers.
MY sunflowers face east.  All Day.  Every Day.
So that I can't see them.

So while I can figure out the herbs, fruits and veggies, I guess I can't grow their native habitat....

Next year I may just go back to okra.

'Cause according to the jars sitting in my kitchen cabinet, I didn't miss the class on that!


  1. Okra is one of my favorite foods!

  2. I like it too....just not pickled :/ I think we're a little too far north now for it.