One of the joys of a garden is to have some area set aside for growing food or incorporating edible plants in the garden design. No grocery store food tastes as good as what you picked fresh off the plant that day. Part of the reason for this is that most produce in the store is picked while still green so that it is firm enough to ship. It then ripens while in transit or while in the store. As a result, it does not ripen the way nature intended and never achieves the flavor it was meant to have.
I won’t go into a lot of detail about growing veggies as every one’s site and tastes are different. I will just pass on a couple of pointers that I have learned.
A good place to start is a website I found called Sprout Robot. At this website, you can enter your zip code and check the boxes of the vegetables you are interested in growing. It will then send you an email letting you know when it is time to plant each particular vegetable. Pretty cool. This week it is time to plant peas in Durham NC. I have planted peas. I found out that it takes a lot of pea plants to get very many peas. I have a small garden so I probably won’t use my limited space for peas.
Tomatoes, cucumbers, cantelope, broccoli, and squash do very well for me. I may try a few others along the way. So far have had difficulty with potatoes and sweet potatoes but have not given up on those.
My advice is to plant what you like to eat and have the space for. Gardening is supposed to be fun. It is a lot of work if you choose for it to be so. If you find it is too much work, then you will end up frustrated and quit. Start small, and get your confidence up. Learn what works for you and enjoy yourself. Buy what you can’t grow from your local Farmer’s Market. The fuel that is spent shipping food all over this country makes little sense with viewed with thoughts for the environment and the local economy.
One recent addition to my native garden is a bee hive. I had read online about how the honey bees across the country were dying so I decided to have my own bees. Now I wasn’t wanting to study the death of bees, I’m not that morbid. But I knew I do not use chemicals in my garden. One of the suspects in nationwide bee deaths is pesticide use. If bees are gone, then so is pollination of plants and therefore fruits and vegetables. So I thought maybe I could help in the cause of keeping the bee population up. I also recognized a personal advantage for my own vegetable garden productivity with so many bees nearby. I did notice a much better crop of some vegetables last summer.
I don’t know much about honey bees yet so I’m not going to pretend to tell you how to keep bees. I am still learning myself and have yet to harvest my first honey. I will give a few pointers that I did pick up.
The most important thing to determine is the hive location. I read that the hive does better if it gets morning sun and afternoon shade. So that was easy in my native garden as I have described in earlier posts. The other important factor is paying attention to the flight path. Think of your hive as a busy airport and the bees are all these planes taking off and landing. The big difference is planes take off in one direction and the other planes land coming in from the opposite direction. This is to keep planes from flying into each other as you can imagine. However with bees, that is not a problem. They know how to avoid head-on collisions. So place your hive in an area that has plenty of landing and take off room without disturbing human visitors. It’s also good to have enough space around the hive for you to work the hive without plants being in the way. So I placed my hive with low perennials to the front and a path along the rear. This gives me room to take care of the hive without standing in the flight path.
I also spent the extra money to purchase an attractive bee hive. My bee hive is quite visible in the garden so it is a feature of the garden, not just something to try to hide out of sight. There are also bee hives that have viewing windows to watch the bees work. I considered this design but they were unavailable in my area at the time and I was impatient. But if you have children that are fascinated by nature and would enjoy watching the bees work, I think it would be a fun addition to the garden.
There is a lot of information online about raising bees. I hope I have piqued your interest. Anyone who is interested in growing their own food so that they know where it comes from and wants to eat healthy should consider the idea of adding bees to their garden. Not only will you have better crop yields but there is also the sweet honey like the icing on the cake.