Gardener's Grapevine 2013.08.21

This year has been a crazy one where the weather is concerned. It was cold forever in the spring which makes for excellent fresh peas. It also slows the growth of a lot of the other things planted in the garden. We went from unbelievable crazy long winter weather into the monsoon rainy season called spring. Unfortunately, it was really summer while we were getting all the rain.

Art and I have spent a large amount of time building up the portion of our yard that is the garden. When we bought this property it was sadly neglected for years as the owners had passed. The area that is our garden was always a lake in the spring, it was so low. We thought we had built it up enough with compost, filler dirt and rabbit manure that it would not flood anymore. We were not, however, expecting the rains of 2013.

We have not raised rabbits for over five years and do not have kids who we can instill the punishment for wrong choices, of cleaning the rabbit hutch. A nice load of decomposed rabbit manure makes for a great garden. With that said, we had a rough time this summer.

We replanted some of the garden, which is doing quite well now, and making everything a bit late to harvest. But—and I need to emphasize the word but—we fertilized, and did it with the dreaded word, commercial fertilizer. Actually to place blame appropriately, Art did it. In our home, commercial fertilizer is a totally bad word. We compost and stay as organic as possible. Art decided, and was correct, that we needed to boost our fertilizer as the rain depleted and washed away what was there. Well, the outcome of adding fertilizer and rain is weeds, weeds, weeds, and a bumper crop of morning glories which have to be the friendliest flower God ever made.

I went out in the garden to pick tomatoes today and realized that I needed to give the garden some of the attention that I’ve been giving my new grandson. I pulled piles of weeds, and since they are edible, I guess we could have had the worlds largest salad. I have to be honest, I have not tried to eat the edible weeds. We have enough produce, as a general rule, that keeps us fed and busy. I know I did write an article on edible weeds and how they came here, so I probably should at least try some.

After battling the jungle of our garden, I did harvest some very nice tomatoes resulting in some great salsa. If you want excellent corn chips, take corn tortillas and use a pizza cutter to slice them into quarters. Grease a cookie sheet and lay in a single layer and spray with oil, sprinkle with salt and bake. Yummy. Or you can also fry them, even yummier but a bit of cholesterol for the old arteries.

The moral of this column? Use fertilizer sparingly and not during rainy monsoon season.