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Growing your own food – Part 2

This post is a part of the series: Growing your own food.
Part 1
Part 2

I started this series about growing your own food with part 1 in May, when I was first seeing results from my home vegetable garden. Summer is almost over, thankfully. After a much cooler May, we had one of the worst summers here in Arizona. Record temperatures meant that the vegetables needed some more loving and caring. Luckily, our garden produced and continues to do so. Here are some key points I’d like to share with you about things done, lessons learned and fruits reaped.

This was a no-fertilizer vegetable bed with lots of compost, manure and regular watering.

Okra plant flowering and fruiting

Okra plant flowering and fruiting

To report back on the vegetables I already wrote about earlier:
Okra: This has been the biggest success and surprise!
Planted with: Organic seeds bought from the store.
Produced: The finest tasting, finest looking, okras ever in large quantities, especially considering fresh okra is rare find in stores here.
After summer: These plants seem to be getting happier and bigger with each passing day. They absolutely love the heat, bare pretty flowers and wonderfully tasting okras.
Lessons learned: 1. I have couple plants in the vegetable bed, couple in pots and couple in the ground. The ones in the ground are growing the best, even though there’s no fertilizer.
2. If the plant is producing bitter cucumbers, remove the whole plant. It will continue to produce cucumbers, but they will all be bitter. You can’t really do anything about it.

Cucumbers:
Planted with: Saplings bought from the store.
Produced: The finest tasting, finest looking, cucumbers ever in large quantities.
After summer: The plants are producing even now. I’ll keep them as long as they want to stay. 🙂
Lessons learned: It’s important to pluck the cucumbers when they are bright green before they turn yellow. If you let them turn yellow, they’ll kill the whole plant.

Tomatoes:
Planted with: Saplings bought from the store.
Produced: The finest tasting, finest looking, tomatoes ever in large quantities.
After summer: The plants have stopped producing now that their growing season is over. But it seems like we can grow tomatoes here in AZ year round.
Saving seeds: So, I’ve saved 3 tomatoes that I got off the vines, will just crush and bury them in the vegetable bed towards the end of August, to start new growth.
Lessons learned: Plant them 2 feet apart.

Karela (bitter gourd) vine

Karela (bitter gourd) vine

Lauki, karela vines' support system with twines

Lauki, karela vines' support system with twines

Karela and Lauki (bitter and bottle gourds):
Planted with: Seeds bought from Seeds of India online.
Produced: Has many little ones which I’m waiting for.
After summer: Still producing.
Lessons learned: 1. The vine needs a lot of support and a lot of water. Also, sowing and transplanting seeds can be rough on these tender little plants. It is better to sow the seeds directly in the ground.
2. Lauki (bottle gourd) may require manual pollination. If it looks like the tiny baby laukis appear but die off withing a few days, then yes, you might have to take a male flower and manually put the pollen on the female flowers. Female flowers are the flowers that have a tiny baby lauki attached to them.
Support: I’ve supported them on tied up twine.

Tulsi

Tulsi

Tulsi:
Planted with: Seeds gracefully given to me by my Mom and a friend all the way from Puerto Rico.
Produced: The finest tasting, finest looking, tulsi ever in large quantities.
After summer: The plants love the heat. I’ll keep them as long as they want to stay. 🙂
Lessons learned: It loves morning sun, afternoon shade and loves water… a lot of it.

Zucchini:
Planted with: Saplings bought from the store.
Produced: Not much success here, the plant produced just a couple zucchinis. I seem to have a problem with stuff that others succeed immensely at. I’ve had people tell me they regret planting zucchinis since they produce like crazy.
After summer: The plant seems to be recovering now. I’ll keep it since I need to experiment more.
Lessons learned: The reason my zucchini plant did not produce much was because of the case of disappearing bees. Zucchinis rely on an external pollinator like ants, bees and other insects to help them carry pollen from the male to the female flower. Either the heat or a neighbor’s pest control killed a lot of these pollinators and no one helped it grow. I’ve started manually taking the pollen from a male flower and putting it on a female flower. It works like a charm. Female flowers are the flowers that have a tiny baby zucchini attached to them.

Peppers:
Planted with: Saplings bought from the store.
Produced: The finest tasting, finest looking, peppers ever in small quantities.
After summer: The plants are producing even now. I’ll keep them as long as they want to stay. 🙂
Lessons learned: They need some protection from the heat here in AZ. Maybe a partial shade cover would’ve been ideal.

That’s most of what I wanted to share. I do have other herbs like basil, mint, rosemary, oregano, but they seem to be so easy to grow and care for that I don’t have much to say there.

Do try out vegetable gardening and please write back with questions, comments.

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7 comments on “Growing your own food – Part 2

  1. Pingback: Bhindi Aaloo (Okra with Potatoes) « One Stop Eats

  2. Subadra
    October 5, 2009

    The garden looks lovely in this post. How is it doing now? Have you added any winter vegetables? Can’t wait to see them. Great job!

    • Meenakshi Matai
      October 6, 2009

      Thank you! The lauki, karela, okra and bell pepper plants are still producing. Tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini dried up so I took them out and planted new tomatoes. Will see how well they grow. Yes, in fact just last weekend I sowed seeds for some winter vegetables like peas, spinach, carrots, onions and radish. Which reminds me I have to write a new post about that. Hopefully they’ll grow well.

  3. Namrata
    October 11, 2009

    Wow! Your vegetable garden looks awesome. It is so satisfying to pluck vegetables from your own yard.

  4. Pattu
    September 16, 2010

    While searching Google for bottle gourd growing I stumbled into your blog. Nice to see the phtographs, and lovely recipes too.

    May I take the liberty to find out , how you managed pests for bottle gourd?

    Thanks.

    • Meenakshi Matai
      September 16, 2010

      Thank you. What kind of pests are your bottle gourd plants getting? Mine attracted black ants and a whole bunch of little gnat like flies. I let the ants be, didn’t do anything to keep them away. For the gnats, I would give the plant a shower every other day. I have also used a spray of soap water that worked pretty well. Another thing that works like a charm is planting marigolds in between your vegetables. I should mention that banana peels and coffee grounds not only keep bugs away, but are a great fertilizer as well. Happy Gardening.

  5. Pingback: Growing your own food – Part 1 « One Stop Eats

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This entry was posted on August 18, 2009 by in Extra healthy, Gardening, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

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