Sunday, February 2, 2014

How I started my Victory Garden

Victory Garden on the Golf Course

Every gardener has their own story on how or why they got started gardening. 

I have fond memories of long summer days at my Granny’s. She had a BIG garden. My sister and I were always Granny’s little helpers. Of course, she was also a wonderful cook.

I migrated from flowers to herbs and most recently to veggies. I love fragrance and ran across a clearance herb book. It listed many herbs that could be grown indoors. I thought that would be a great idea to grow good smelling herbs to freshen the house over the winter. When spring came, I transplanted them outdoors.

I toyed with adding veggies, but wasn’t sure how that would work out, living on a golf course! We don’t have a big yard and we couldn’t till up the back yard to put in a garden.  It also had to meet the landscaping requirements of the golf community.

I decided to try it out, incorporating vegetables and herbs into my flowerbed. Our concerns were diminished when the golfers began complementing us on our “flowers.” It is amazing how much you can grow in very little space and how great it can look!

Through my trials and tribulations of learning to garden on my own, I imagined my Granny looking down at me with that twinkle in her eye and a huge smile, laughing along with me.  I know she would be proud of what a little gardener I have become and how much we get from our little patch of land.

I wanted to grow veggies like my grandmother did, the old fashioned way without chemicals.  I read a lot of magazines and books to learn how to grow organically in the small space available in the flower garden and pots on the patio.

I intersperse our vegetables and herbs with our flowers.  Not only does it look beautiful, but the flowers attract the pollinators that increase the amount your vegetables produce.  I plant my cabbages and peppers with petunias in pots that we use on the patio and line the border of my vegetable garden with day lilies and marigolds.

Petunias with Peppers on left, with Onions on right

I have learned you can grow healthy plants without chemicals.  The “bad” bugs came the first year.  It took a couple of years for the beneficial insects to proliferate to keep the “bad” bugs under control.  I even learned companion planting and simple crop rotation to help with diseases and keep pests down.

We grow the basic herbs; herbs are so easy to grow.  Oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, savory, basil, chives, borage, salad burnet, dill, garlic, mustard all live happily.


We grow all the produce we can eat and have much left over to put away for the winter.  Tomatoes, peppers (cayenne, Ancho, Jalapeno, Pimento, sweet peppers), zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers, lettuce, chard, French sorrel, purslane, onions, broccoli raab, sunflowers, Fava beans, strawberries, cabbage.  I struggled with broccoli, the rabbits were eating it as fast as it grew!  The green rabbit fencing that I put around each broccoli plant is now keeping them at bay.

I use many compact or dwarf types so they will not over power the small garden space or pot.  I have found that lettuce, hot peppers, cabbage, and zucchini all grow very well in pots.  I do succession planting for lettuce to have lettuce spring, summer and fall.
I even bought a NatureMill composter so that I can compost in the garage.  Between composting and recycling, we have very little that has to go to the landfill.

I learned to can a couple of years ago to put up all the extra tomatoes we had.  I also put up a few jars of sugar free fruit using pectin and stevia.

I learned to blanch and freeze greens, peas, and beans.   To dry herbs, garlic, harden winter squash.  To make and freeze pesto with our extra basil and parsley, make pickles.  We even get raw milk from a local farmer and make cheese and yogurt from any we don’t drink.

As I got started gardening, other family members wanted to get started on their own and were asking many questions.  To help guide them and to keep track of what was happening in the garden, I started my own blog and called it “Victory Garden on the Golf Course.”  I named it after the victory gardens grown to help the WWII effort.  I think we are in a similar situation today; our country needs our help in battling the war on ill health.  We can grow our own food in small spaces.  It is more nutritious, it takes so much less energy, can be grown with zero chemicals, and is so convenient to be able to walk right out your door for your dinner.

I love being able to get others gardening as well.  I was given an Egyptian walking onion from a B&B in Kansas.  It is a perennial that grows great in a pot or the ground.  It puts on bulblet tops every June.  This year, I took all of them to a woman’s breakfast we were having at work (I am an engineer).  I was blown away by the interest and enthusiasm of these hard-working women on growing their own onions. 

I believe the tide has turned and growing your own and eating nutritious food.  It is so heart warming!

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