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Sunday, February 29, 2004

Oops! There goes the okra! 

When my husband and I relocated South about 8 years ago, we agreed that it would make sense to have a lawn cutting service. We found a great guy named Earthine who cut and trimmed out the lawn regularly for a very reasonable price. Earthine was always dependable and did a pretty passable job at keeping our yard looking good. Of course over the years I would lose a flower or two – the head of a marigold here, the stalk of an allamanda there – but we always could count on a well-manicured lawn.

Well, last year we moved to a new house with a larger yard and I decided it was time to get back into vegetable gardening. I carefully selected the seeds and lovingly tended them until they were old enough to be transplanted. My choices were tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and okra. I could only imagine what a splendiferous garden I was going to have. I dreamed of the luscious vegetables we would be picking for our evening meals (did I mention my husband and I are vegetarian?).

Anyway, the soil was carefully prepared and the plants snuggled into their new home. Soon there were blooms on most of the plants (I did lose a few along the way). One bright morning I went out to look at my plants and, guess what? I had finally succeeded in growing okra! I had never attempted this plant before and was so pleased to see the fruits of my labor, so to speak, staring me in the face.

A few weeks later our friend, Earthine, showed up to cut and trim the lawn and did his usual dependable job. About an hour after he left I went to admire my new babies. I’ll bet you can guess what happened next. Yep, my poor little okra plants were scalped all the way down to about an inch from the ground. Of course the moral of the story is either plant your vegetables far away from your lawn service folks or be prepared to cut your own lawn. The second option is what we chose with the landscaping we’re planning around our new pool but more about that later.

Here’s some interesting information about okra:

Okra, or abelmoschus esculentus, is a podded vegetable that can grow up to 6 feet tall with a spread of 12-16 inches. Pods are 4-10 inches long and are white, green, or red. Immature pods are eaten as a cooked vegetable (great in gumbo, but that’s a story for another time); mature pods can also be dried and powdered for use as a thickener. The pods are harvested about eight to eleven weeks after sowing and can be stored for up to ten days. For seed sources, visit Plant Resources.

Happy Gardening, and remember to keep the trimmer away from the plants!

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Carrots Love Tomatoes 

Many years ago when I began my foray into vegetable gardening, I stumbled across a little paperback book entitled Carrots Love Tomatoes – Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening by Louise Rotte. Armed with my Saturday morning coffee and a green highlighter I curled up on the sofa and began reading. Within an hour, the poor book looked as though it had been through a war. Many pages were dog-eared and MANY entries were highlighted in green.

The following week I went to my favorite gardening store (everyone has one) and picked up a variety of vegetable seeds. After properly preparing my beds (that’s another article I’ll share soon), I proceeded to plant using the advice gleaned from my little paperback book.

Needless to say, the vegetables were stunning that year and every year thereafter. Here are a few glimpses into what you can expect if you find this book:

This fantastic little book covers everything from Absinthium to Yucca and many, many species in between. I highly recommend Ms. Riotte’s book as you plan your 2004 vegetable garden. A revised edition can be purchased at Booksamillion for as little as $10.02 if you’re a club member, as I am, or Amazon.com for $10.47. Enjoy the discovery of companion planting in your garden this year. Happy Gardening.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Why Gardening? 

Gardening brings a unique quality to everyone's life. How many times have you strolled down a beautifully landscaped path and felt pleasure or contentment? Without the wondrous colors, shapes and sizes of various plant materials, imagine how stark our landscape would be.
Gardening is not only prized for the beauty it brings, but also contributes to improvements in:

Many of us have the desire to become a gardener, but not always the knowledge needed to be successful. That's why we want to introduce you to The Garden's Gift, a place to easily access all gardening-related materials. To begin your walk through the garden, click on any of the links featured. Enjoy and Happy Gardening.

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Thanks to Andrew Stenning who contributed the photograph for our masthead

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