OSH Gardening blog: The highs and lows of growing our own food.

The following posts are a series written by Katie about being a member of NFI's Garden Education Program for the 2013 season (May through September). She will be sharing her thoughts on the experience over the next few months.

To read older Blog Entries, please visit our Blog Archive.

Bush beans and zucchini are amazing, but melons...? 08/26/2013

I remembered Barbara Kingsolver describing the relentless growth and production of her zucchini in Animal, Vegetable, Mineral.   And sure enough, within a couple weeks our bush bean and zucchini seeds had sprouted and surpassed the growth of the seedlings we had planted.  We were totally amazed!  In fact, my zucchini plants were coming in so thick that that Joe recommended thinning the plants (to ensure optimal growth of the few, versus poor growth of the many).  I did so reluctantly, it was like Sophie's Choice.

The cucumbers quickly followed, and the rest of our plot was not doing too shabby either.  By late June the basil and swiss chard were ready for some pruning (and eating).

The first pepper plant we were able to identify in our plot was a jalapeño (because 2 weeks into July we harvested our first peppers!).  Our first zucchini was ready a few days later.  The tomatoes had also started to fruit, although they were still green.  The cucumber vines were beginning to creep outside of our plot, so Joe suggested it was a good time to wrap twine around the bamboo trellis and train the vines upward instead of letting them spread along the ground.

While doing this I noticed a strange looking round fruit starting on one of the cucumber vines.  I thought perhaps it was some exotic tropical mutant cucumber and flagged Joe over.  He promptly told us it was a melon, and not only a melon but "the tastiest melon you will ever eat!"   I was like "but that’s impossible, I planted these from seed", then remembered one plant was a 'cucumber' seedling – so it must have been falsely identified as a cucumber during the mystery seedling exercise – melons and cucumbers are in the same family after all.  I’ve never been a big melon fan, but perhaps I’ve just never had a garden-fresh non-supermarket melon.  Now that we have inadvertently planted one, and apparently they are the tastiest melons ever, maybe I will just discover my new favorite thing?     

Finally – a few words about the Mamie D. Lee community garden, which is where NFI has their demonstration garden and also holds this course.  Before starting this program, I had never spent much time in that part of the District.  Even though the community garden is only a few hundred meters from the Fort Totten metro station, it's bordered on 2 sides by woods so it still feels peaceful and somewhat secluded.  I also had never been part of a community garden before, and have really enjoyed learning about gardening in the context of a community – where I can celebrate another gardener's first eggplant, see how others are trellising their cucumbers, or just admire a healthy plant in another plot.              

To read older Blog Entries, please visit our Blog Archive.

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