Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Gardening in Virginia

My Square foot Potager in June 2007. The corn and everything look great here... unfortunately, the lack of water and the fact we had to conserve killed the corn. OK I admit it, we have never really had much success with the corn... I think I need another variety! (It was Silver Queen)

How frustrating is it to be a gardener in Virginia.

We don’t quite fit in anywhere… our winters are colder than those in the Deep South. Our winters and summers are warmer than those further North. And the winters just DON’T compare with the Upper Mid-West!

See… we get quite a few sub-freezing temperatures. In fact, it is very common for the temperatures to go below freezing at night (unlike the Deep South), while hovering in the mid 40’s during the day (all temperatures are in degrees Fahrenheit). THAT is typical winter weather for us. Then there are the atypical days in January or February, where the temperatures might get up into the 80’s or never get beyond the 20’s.

Then there is summer. Summer here is HOT. But not just hot. Mostly that is the way it feels because it is HUMID. I am told it is not as hot or humid as the deep South, but it is far hotter and more humid than anything I ever experienced before. Of course, as an Englishwoman that is not too hard… but I have been to the Mediterranean!

Anyway… consider then, the frustration of a gardener without the benefit of life-long experience of the weather here in Virginia. Or without the books that help me garden in my climate.

The harvest from July 2007. We actually started out quite well last year! As you can see, in one day I have picked a load of beans (a mess DH calls it), some onions and some chard. There may be some turnips in there too ;)

For instance, I KNOW I could do four season gardening… I see it down at Colonial Williamsburg all the time. But I would like a book about it ;) one that told me how to do it! Or at least a gardening neighbour… but they are few and far between. Where do I begin? When should I plant seeds? Should I sow my seeds indoors? When do I plant the seedlings out?

When I browse the web, people talk flowers and plants. I love them, sure, but my real passion is growing food. Well that and herbs ;) I think it is exciting to go out and PICK the food, and then COOK the food right away. (Or cook WITH them in the case of herbs). I don’t suppose that is particularly surprising to those who know how I love to cook :D

The back garden in August 2007. Not doing so great because water was scarce... but this was a nice foggy day ;) EARLY. I always like this view off of the back porch. No, there is no current inhabitant of the rabbit hutch... we're looking for a good (i.e. not hairy) candidate. (Angoras are LOVELY, but their fur makes me sneeze :-( )

But just in case there are others who can (as in there are no neighbourhood restrictions) or want to do some Kitchen Gardening in the Mid-Atlantic/Upper South region (USDA zone 7) (and other areas are more than welcome to share their wisdom), then I am aiming to push this blog towards doing JUST that, right here. And maybe have some information handy to those who want to try too!

Join me?

P.S. I added some lists to the sidebars, links for books, websites and blogs I like!

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