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Garden family has plenty growing

June 1st, 2009 · 3 Comments · Growing food


Unlike my sisters, I’ve never had much success trying to grow food. In my gardening career, I’ve only had slight success and only twice. Once was with a tomato plant that my daughter started from seed (I think; memory fuzzy here). We must have gotten at least a half-dozen tomatoes, far more than any other attempts. The other “success” was with a tomato vine that grew out of my compost pile.

In the latter case, I can only surmise that a supermarket tomato’s seeds found their way into my compost. I almost never buy those sad excuses for tomatoes, but I must have at some time, because this vine produced at least a couple dozen perfectly uniform and tasteless tomatoes. I can hereby attest that such tomatoes don’t taste like much even when they’re allowed to ripen on the vine.

Better luck with herbs

Herbs have been my only real success, and even those don’t always work. My wonderful rosemary finally gave up this past winter, and the thyme I planted last year isn’t going to make it. The oregano and sage look like they’re in for the long haul. Not sure about the parsley. It never really prospered last year, but it’s put out shoots this year. I’m going to let it go to seed and if it successfully self-sows, I’ll claim it as a success.

Not discouraged, I’m trying thyme again this year in a new location, and the rosemary start I bought appears to be prospering. The bay tree is flourishing with new leaves coming on.

All of which means I can flavor food from my yard, and add color with certain edible flowers, but, basically, I’d starve if I relied on my horticulture—unless I started eating slugs.

The three sisters

Many people may know the “three sisters” as the corn, squash and beans of native American agriculture. I know my three sisters as Susan, Joyce and Lori, and they’re all superior gardeners. Superior, as far as I can tell, even to our parents, both farm kids who seemed content to buy food from the grocery store, except for the tomatoes that Mom usually planted each year.

Susan was the first food gardener in my generation, harvesting large quantities of zucchini along with other crops when she was still in her 20s. (Working from memory here; Susan, correct me if I’m wrong.) Since then, she’s gardened off and on, and currently is in an on state, going so far as to start more plants than she could use.


Some of those plants, very healthy looking tomato plants, to be specific, are growing in Lori’s garden, which I visited yesterday. She and her husband Mike, after huge success last year in their first year of gardening (remember the green tomatoes? And pickles?), are expanding their garden footprint this year, with a plan to put in melons and squash and maybe (long-term) strawberries. Lori said they’re experimenting with various things, but the Brussels sprouts (above) look gorgeous. Hope they produce before it gets too hot for them. And the apple trees they put in last year are showing some little fruits (below).

hutapp A wee apple

Joyce, meanwhile, is trying container gardening for the first time (if I’m not mistaken). She has a new patio in back and has two or three different varieties of tomatoes. She’s done herbs and flowers, and I give her credit for trying tomatoes too.

Gardens galore

All of which leaves me out of the current surge in home gardening. Here are my excuses: mostly a shade yard; tons of bunnies, squirrels, snails and slugs; and a dog that occupies the back yard, which has the only spot that gets anything close to enough sun.

I therefore want it on record that I am willing to help my three sisters consume their excess. It’s the least I can do to promote gardening, don’t you think?

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Susan G.

    Thanks for the tip of the hat, Janet. Wow, Lori & Mike’s garden looks spectacular. So far, our garden contains mesclun, buttercrunch and spinach. Also snap peas (which look outstanding), tomatos (6 varieties), green peppers, green beans (pole) and cucumbers.

    All your excuses are the same thing most gardeners deal with but we’ll forgive no garden because you do such a great blog and Lori and I have to have someone to pawn off all our extra

    By the way, your nephew Rob has started a garden out at his “ranch” – as he likes to call it. You might want to check out how single guys in their 20’s (who have never gardened before) are managing. They had to dig out zosia grass in order to plant and I guess it was quite a job!

    Sis No. 1

  • Janet Majure

    Thanks for the nice compliment, Susan. And I can assure you I’m happy to be pawned upon. I guess you must have inspired Rob. Hope he has great success.

  • Janet Majure

    p.s. I should have mentioned, Susan, that you were reading Organic Gardener back when few had heard of “organic.”