Exploring the gospel principles of earth stewardship

Garden Favorites

The busy season in my garden began at the same time as my morning sickness this spring.  I had big plans for filling up the garden plot my husband and I rent, but when it came time to start planting my much-anticipated fennel, all I really wanted to do was sit in a lawn chair and eat crackers.  Some of our gardening plans were scuppered but we’ve still managed to plant and harvest a healthy batch of produce, and we’re particularly pleased with a few of our no-fail favorites that provide huge yields with little work—best bets for a garden manned by one capable adult and one slightly whiny, mostly unhelpful adult.

  1.  Potatoes—Before I met my husband, I didn’t know anyone who grew potatoes at home.  I mistakenly thought it must be a difficult crop to grow.  We grew five varieties this year, and the hardest part was deciding which potatoes we wanted to grow.  It’s important to choose blight-resistant strains when possible and to protect the plants from frost, but once the seed potatoes are in the ground, they require very little maintenance and yield about 15 potatoes for each one planted.
  2. Squash—Winter squash are my favorite plants to grow and summer squash are a close second.  We start all of our squash inside and then transplant them outside to 3′ x 3′ squares of black plastic, eliminating the need to weed and making them perfect plants for pregnant people to maintain.  No pests (at least in Scotland) bother squash and the plants are extremely prolific.  We’re currently eating zucchini every week and we’re waiting on spaghetti squash and pumpkins.
  3. Berry Bushes—The only difficult thing about berry bushes are that they generally take at least a year to establish.  We inherited raspberry and red currant bushes from the previous owner of our garden and last year we planted two gooseberry bushes.  All the bushes require to thrive are a bit of pruning in the winter and perhaps some fertilizer.  We tied up our raspberry bushes in the early spring, but a wind storm broke all the strings.  We never got around to retying them, which makes it more likely that we scratch up our arms when we pick the berries, but doesn’t seem to reduce the crop.

What are your no-fail garden favorites?

  • Peter Ashcroft

    If you have the climate for it, three no-fail tree fruits are figs, persimmons, and pineapple guavas (fiejoa). Grapes are pretty hearty too. Few diseases, pretty much just water them and enjoy the fruit. For vegetables, My dad has had great success with tomatoes, potatoes, corn, and beets. An asparagus patch keeps coming back year after year too.

    • Anonymous

      I love asparagus. We had it in our garden growing up, and I can remember snapping off raw spears to eat while I was weeding. I don’t think we ever cooked the asparagus. Why would you when the fresh tender shoots are so good? We haven’t planted any in our garden here yet. We’re still trying to decide where we want the bed to be.

    • MBCB

      Tomatoes are one of the few things my mom manages to grow as a very occasional gardener, but we’ve been having a hard time with ours.  The climate here (Scotland) is too cool to grow them outside, so we have them in the greenhouse this year.  We just got our first ripe Moneymaker off the vine on Saturday, but the Romas and Sungolds are slow, slow, slow.

  • Anonymous

    I love herbs. In contained beds around our house, we have peppermint, spearmint, pineapple mint, apple mint, oregano, thyme, sage, and lavender. We also grow chives, basil, cilantro, tarragon and parsley. The rosemary has to come inside for winter. I especially love the mints; they way they revive every spring, trimming or walking on them to release the volatile aromatic compounds, making sun tea to quench my thirst, and how the plants buzz with insect activity in the late summer.

    Herbs are as easy to grow as weeds. We use everything for seasoning. I dry some of the herbs to last through winter, and others, like the basil, I whirr through the food processor with some olive oil and freeze in ice trays to keep for making pasta sauces later in the year.

    This year is our first year growing potatoes and onions, and they have done very well. The kids love harvesting the vegetables that hide under the ground; for them, it’s a treasure hunt. 

    • http://laelyn.wordpress.com/ Karmen

      Thanks for the basil suggestion, I’ve never tried that before but was wondering what on earth I would do with all our basil this year!

      • Anonymous

        After it’s frozen, you can pop the little cubes out of the trays and just stick them all in a freezer bag. It’s super easy, and then when you’re cooking later, you just drop a cube simmering sauce. You can also process them with water, if you prefer not to use oil.

    • MBCB

      My herbs had a hard time this year.  Most of the containers were outside when 100 mph winds came through our plot and were destroyed.  Only the parsley survived.  I just replanted basil in the greenhouse, though, because I love it too much! 

  • http://laelyn.wordpress.com/ Karmen

    I grew five different varieties of garlic this year for the first time,  all harvested now.  One is braided, the other four are curing in my shed.  I think garlic was one of the easiest things I’ve ever grown!

    We’re eating green beans, anaheim peppers and crookneck squash and watching our heirloom tomatoes starting to turn pink finally so I guess those are my favorites — whatever is ready!

    • Anonymous

      Did you do a hard stemmed garlic? We were able to get that at our farmer’s market in NY, but I haven’t seen it since we moved. It had great flavor, but doesn’t last through the winter well.

    • MBCB

      We were just saying last night that we should have planted garlic.  It’s such a staple in the kitchen.   We’ll have to try it next year.