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Summer Garden Harvest!

June 11, 2013

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In addition to my love for cooking, I also really love to garden, even if it can be a real pain sometimes. Despite fighting off the worms and hand-picking snails and slugs tenaciously every evening (I know –  gross), there is something very therapeutic about gardening to me. There is also a great sense of satisfaction when you finally get to eat what you’ve been nurturing for all these months.

Even though I’m fairly good at gardening (it’s taken years of practice and dozens of phone calls to my green thumb parents), I have to say I got very lucky this time around as I left my garden for 2 weeks unwatered and unattended. Thank God for Louisiana rains! When I returned home from my honeymoon, I was pleasantly surprised by clusters of ripening tomatoes, a few developing yellow squash and basil plants that had doubled in size. Louisiana is great for all of these vegetables and herbs but the trick is keeping away the pests.

Here is a preview of what I have in the works and I promise I will follow with some corresponding recipes including a classic Caprese salad, pesto, and my Mom’s famous angel hair pasta with squash and shrimp. But for now, here are a few of my plants and tips for planting and maintaining a healthy, bountiful garden.

Beefsteak Tomatoes_1

These are Beefsteak Tomatoes and they do really well in warm climates but they also require a lot of water/rain. I planted these very late in the season last September and I thought they were gonners but since we had a mild winter and it did not get extremely hot here this spring, they survived and blossomed this May.

However, I’ve had issues with Japanese Horn worms, other worms, snails and slugs, I’ve sprayed a mild insect killer that you can get at Lowe’s or Home Depot called Natria. It’s not organic, but it’s the closest to organic you can get when using a spray. It worked for the worms but not for the snails and slugs. I have cats and I always see neighborhood cats in my yard so I didn’t want to use snail bait or Sluggo. It works, but if you have animals in your area I highly advise against it! Animals will eat it and it can kill them very quickly.

So I researched natural ways and the best solution I’ve found is filling a cup with beer and placing it in the soil near the plants so the rim is ground level (see the photo below on the right side). The snails and slugs are drawn to the yeast in the beer and they fall in and drown. In one hour I found 5 snails! Another great deterrent are crushed eggshells. Sprinkle them around your plants and it will keep them away.

Yellow Squash_1

The Natria worked really well on the squash but they key is planting them on mounds and keeping the mounds from dissolving during watering and growth.

Basil_1

Lastly, my specialty – Basil! I am taking too much credit because basil just thrives here in Lousiana. It loves sun and lots of water. The Natria works well for keeping worms off the basil but you can see there are still some holes where they got to it in between sprays and heavy rains. You can also see the purple basil to the right and a budding cucumber in the front! 🙂

I hope you find this helpful. You can apply these tips no matter where you are planting but it’s always better if these three plants get plenty of sun and water.

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