I have always loved to grow my own veggies. I remember my Dad growing his tomatoes on El Toro Dr. in Bakersfield when I was a little guy. When we moved between my sixth and seventh grade years I was able to get a little plot I could call my own. In hindsight I should have picked a sunnier location because the tomatoes and squash struggled. I grew wonderful radishes but then again who eats them?
During my freshman year in college we lived in Sherman Oaks and drove over the hill to UCLA. We lived with my first wife’s grandmother. She had a wonderful garden patch in the backyard. That is where I found out how tasty Swiss Chard is. Grandma had also raised rabbits for fur and meat during WWII as well as tending her Victory Garden.
Many years later when I remarried I got my hands back into the soil. My wife Kathy wouldn’t eat tomatoes because they had no flavor. Once she tasted the homegrown varieties she was in love with them. Prior to moving to Texas I had a great patch in Bakersfield. We had blackberries, strawberries, tomatoes,, sugar snap peas, asparagus and more. The kids loved to snack on the fresh picked stuff right there in the garden. I miss that Bakersfield patch.
Midland Texas was a real challenge – between the heat, the wind and the very poor soil my successes were slim. My only real success was the peach tree I planted in memory of my Dad. I visit Midland often for work and always drive down the alley to check on the tree. It has become huge.
Now in the Houston area the challenges are different. Heat is still a bit of a problem, especially this year, but it is made worse by the high humidity. One benefit is the long growing season. I have planted a second round of tomatoes, green beans and squash at the end of this summer. It is kind of a test. I am trying to build the health of the soil with lots of compost from my bins, leaf mulch from the abundant leaf fall every year and trying to break up the clay. I went with raised beds to combat the clay. August of this year, 2011, I really improved the walking working areas around the beds. Looks really nice now.
With the fencing materials salvaged from Hurricane Ike I sequestered the garden from my wife’s line of sight and built two huge side by side compost bins. I have not thrown any grass clippings into the landfill for several years now. My son cuts a neighbor’s grass and I compost all of it too. The Asparagus patch should be my shining star next spring…… if any make it in the house. My wife has found out how sweet freshly picked stalks taste. If it is a small day….. they become garden snacks.
Oh yes, I worm farm now…second season and regularly harvest those wonderful castings.