I know Thanksgiving was last week, but I’m not ready to let go of it just yet. There are so many blessings and gifts to appreciate. After scorching heat and a devastating drought, I’m amazed and so thankful for our garden. I don’t see how any plant could survive and yet the tomatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, pumpkins, watermelons, carrots, and potatoes came through for us. Our flowers suffered, but they performed better than expected, too. These photos are a very small sample of our flowers this year.
I hope I learned some gardening lessons last summer because I’ve read that the winter in north central Missouri is forecasted to be dry which doesn’t bode well for gardening next year. But instead of worrying, I look onto our plowed garden and dream of next year’s bumper crop. If you’re like me, you can’t wait to get the 2013 seed catalogs!
I had some extra room in our garden last spring, so I planted a few “mixed” gourd seeds waited to see what kind would spring up. The drought was very hard on them and for a while I didn’t think they were going to produce. But they did! And I got five gallon bucketfuls of little pumpkins and pear-shaped gourds! I gave a few away, but I still had an abundance and no clue as to what I could do with them.
However, an opportunity presented itself last week. I’m on our local Shakespearean Circle’s Christmas Dinner Committee and we need to come up with, among other things, holiday decorations. Since Elizabethan Christmas decorations include gilded fruit (and lots of greenery), I thought I’d guild our gourds rather than fruit.
Gilding turned out to be super easy. I washed and dried the gourds and then spray painted them with metallic gold spray paint. They didn’t need any fancy designs…just gold. And as you can see, they look great with greenery. If you’d like to fancy up your holiday decorations, just gild your gourds!
Soil testing your garden in the fall is a good way to prepare for next spring’s growing season. I recently took a soil sample from both of our gardens. I filled two large butter containers with soil that I had dug from the center of each garden and from 4-6 inches. We took them to our local university extension office and completed a short form which asked what kinds of tests we wanted on the samples. I requested the basic soil test which determines the adequacy of nitrogen, potassium (potash), and phosphorus levels and the pH.
We received the results about ten days later. We already knew that our soil was mostly clay, but we learned our soil also has an excessive amount of phosphorus and needs more calcium. To increase the calcium the extension office recommended that we add 46 lbs per 1000 sq. ft. of gypsum for one garden and 114 lbs per 1000 sq. ft. in the other. Gypsum can be added any time of the year, so we’ll add ours in the spring. They also recommended that we minimize the use of balanced blend fertilizers such as 10-10-10 because the soil doesn’t want or need more phosphorous and potash. In fact, adding more phosphorous would burn plant roots.
I’m so glad we had the soil tested. Now that I’m armed info, I hope to give our garden what it needs rather than blindly throwing expensive fertilizers at it. I’m eager to see what kind of results we’ll get next year after the gypsum application.