Trying new things

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I enjoyed my garden so much this summer. Every year I attempt to grow something new. This year, I focused on attracting pollinators to my garden. I studied planting charts to make sure I got things put in the ground at the most vital time for optimum growth. My husband and I added some wonderful compost to each of our raised beds. I diligently added compost to every space growing shrubs, flowers and plants throughout the spring.

While it was still cool back in March, I was able to get seed potatoes planted before Saint Patrick’s Day. Eyes down of course, because as my Great Aunt Jan always reminded me, “You don’t want them to get dirt in their eyes.” Hardy har har. 

The soil was well-prepared for the rest of the spring planting. I had help from our teenagers getting trellises placed in beds to make way for a plentiful crop of cucumbers. I had to add some spaces this year to include plenty of room for yellow summer squash to spread itself out.

I purchased most of my plants from local nurseries and started several things in the ground from seeds. I added two flower beds near the garden area for zinnias, hollyhocks and cosmos. These were a beautiful addition to the farm and kept pollinators hanging around all season. I took a butterfly bush growing in one of our perennials’ raised beds and split it up. I planted a little bit in each raised bed – this made a wonderful impact on pollinators hanging around the garden all season.

I still had to fight with squash bugs trying to ruin our zucchini and ended up replanting it not once but twice. We enjoyed a rainbow of pepper colors this season. I had never grown lunch box peppers, but they were a sweet addition to our summer harvest. I was able to keep everything growing even through some hot weeks in August. It was then I began to contemplate a fall garden to continue to enjoy fresh vegetables long after the conclusion of summer.

A good friend shared a video made by garden vlogger Roots & Refuge with me. The theme was what to grow in a fall garden. I was wholly inspired and started ordering seeds to extend our season. I had made a long wish list but opted to plant a few varieties of lettuce, butternut squash, pumpkins, zucchini and more green beans.

I am happy to report that as of Oct. 19, our garden is still thriving. I don’t think I planted the pumpkins seeds early enough but we have several flowers. I’m not sure if we will see any pumpkins emerge before the first frost arrives – but the vines are lovely. We are still enjoying tomatoes and I made a sizable batch of salsa verde with the green tomatoes remaining on the vines. Our herb garden is still producing a lovely crop of basil, thyme, parsley, cilantro, mint, oregano and lavender. The egg plant and okra have slowed production as the days are getting shorter and the temperatures have gotten cooler. We are still harvesting green beans every few days. It’s been great being able to share with friends and neighbors.

The pastures are starting to get thinner, and the final cutting of hay is being loaded in from fields. We are starting to prepare for the colder months ahead. Football season and school activities have taken over the slower summer calendar. 

There are many things to be thankful for this year. I am glad I ventured out and started a fall garden. I enjoy learning new things even by trial and error. I hope you get to try something new this season too, neighbor.

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’

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