Friday, September 30, 2011

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing (the end)

I have had such a good time participating in KinderGARDENs this year. It has provided good focus for my gardening and photographing efforts. In many ways, with a new little Sprout on the scene, gardening would have taken a complete back seat, if I hadn't committed to myself that I wanted to do KinderGARDENs from start to finish (minus a few missed weeks, oops!) I can't wait until next year, for a variety of reasons, including seeing everyone else's KinderGARDENs again, and simply the sheer untapped potential (for better weather, for more diligent weeding, for tastier harvests) that next year holds. But first - a rundown of how this year finished...
Here is Bean walking through the weeds at our big community garden. To be honest, we just gave up on this garden, there was no time to redeem the lack of watering during this hot dry summer, and I just figured what could grow would grow, and everything else... would not. In front of Bean you can see the radishes that bolted like crazy. Radishes are awesome, I recommend growing them to boost the confidence of any gardener. Behind Bean you can see our kohlrabi and chard, which remain to be harvested, probably this weekend.
Here is a sample plant of the first member of the brassica family I've ever grown successfully. We picked three about this size and I chopped and stirfried them and thought they were delicious! Just like broccoli stem, which I happen to like a lot. I'm the only person in my family who will like these, so we probably won't grow it again. But I'm gonna go harvest the rest of it and eat it all by myself! Ha!
Here's Sprout keeping warm while we picked carrots. Luckily, PB's parents, who are visiting from Cowtown, met us at the garden with a truck and extra manpower, to help pull in the carrots. I wasn't sure how big or tasty they'd be, and I'm pleased to report carrots are pretty darn hardy :) We had a great harvest of at least this one vegetable from our whole plot lol. I also pulled up a few onions, and there are potatoes to be discovered at the back of the plot. We've got this weekend to accomplish the task, before the garden is shut down for the season (they plough it under each fall.) And then we're done with it. I am sad to leave the community, but we never really plugged in with other gardeners there anyway. I think if we hadn't been so busy growing a family, we'd have had a better experience growing a garden.
But, here is our alternative - two new raised beds! Altogether, this puts us at a little under 150 square feet of growing space at home, with beautiful sunlight, close to our rain barrels and water taps, and all round more convenient. Next summer, these boxes will be bursting with produce, I am SO EXCITED I'M WRITING IN ALL CAPS!!! (!!!) We'll be layering garden clippings, compost, and new topsoil in the beds over winter. We're also putting some fall onions and garlic in for tasty tasty harvests next fall :)
This is the beautiful delicate flower of the stinky coleus plant. I consider this plant a success story, and I'll be buying two (or four) next year to keep the rabbits out of the beds. We were able to grow lettuce and cabbage at home without the rabbit eating them, even though he still lived across the yard under our mugo shrubs. It sustained some freezing at the beginning of spring/summer to grow into a lush healthy plant. The smell is strong but surprisingly not that unpleasant, or maybe I just got used to it. Anyway, I'm happy to include it in my garden.
This summer was terribly dry, after such an insanely wet/flooded spring. These carrots show the effects of the dryness, I think, in their banding. See how they are all constricted at about the same level? I think the roots experienced good moisture levels above and below the bands, but at the constrictions, they grew thinner and more slowly. They are tasty, but maybe just a little harder to clean and peel.
Here's more or less what we harvested this week. Some potatoes, some carrots, some onions, some kohlrabi, some squash. Kim can add about 6 pounds of chard to the KinderGARDENs donation tally, and there will be several more pounds of chard donated in the next week, I'm sure. Along with some of this other stuff. The acorn squash are from our volunteer plant. My tomato plants are near done, still with tonnes of small green tomatoes to pick off and let ripen in our warm kitchen. All in all, for a kind of busy summer with really weird weather, I'm happy with the harvest. For sure, once again, we learned a lot of lessons, and I leave the year encouraged about next year. Make sure to swing by Kim's and check out everyone else's final summaries. Thanks for an excellent year of KinderGARDENing!


  1. I've so enjoyed watching your family's gardening experience this summer! Lovely photos and dialog. :)

  2. I share the exact sentiment about participating in KinderGARDENS. It was the kick in the butt I needed too. And next year will, of course, be absolutely perfect! ;)

    Hooray for your carrots and new raised beds!

  3. it was so great "meeting" you and your family through your kindergarden posts this year, and watching your garden (and your little beans) grow!

    love those carrots - absolutely fascinating!

  4. Thanks for all the kind words of encouragement you have given me this summer. It is so great to learn and share with the KinderGarden groupies.
    Hope to "see" you again next year!