2 of 8 garden zones, plus greenhouse, at my friend’s house
Having gardening friends is wonderful. It is quite true, I do love all of you virtual friends, but having a flesh-and-blood person walk around your gardens with you “is so very much more better,” as my daughter might say. I am quite envious of those of you who garden with partners, or have relatives or good friends with whom to weed and share tall gardening tales. Gardening should be shared!
I have gardening buddy who has the idea that, between the two of us, we can figure out every single crop that can grow in southwest Michigan. He’s got a few years up on me trying to figure this out. He’s a weekender, coming in from Chicago; they bought their property in the dunes in the late 1980s and have been battling the deer, woodchucks, raccoons, and sandy soil ever since. His gardens, frankly, are Fort Knox compared to my wide-open plain: because he’s in the woods, he has 7’ high electrified chain link fencing running around each set of gardens. I would guess he has twice my square footage under direct cultivation, all in raised beds.
He also has a greenhouse. His is a “true” greenhouse, not a hoophouse but a proper building with supplemental heat. Indoors he grows 16’ tall fig trees, as well as bushes of capers, bay, various citrus, curry, allspice, epazote, guavas. Outdoors, it’s much the same as I grow, plus a whole lot more fruit trees.
But before this year, he didn’t seed-save, and he didn’t use his greenhouse to grow salad stuff and vegetables in the winter!! I will say I have shamed him into doing both these things now. And soon, he’ll be putting in a hoophouse of his very own.
Because our gardening interests are different, they complement each other: I am learning so much from him in terms of fruiting things, he from me in terms of…I don’t know, me being a stick in his side about using less energy and seed-saving. But it is so fun to walk around and say, “has your zucchini ever done this? What do you think it could be?” and getting a good answer.
I encourage you all to find someone with whom to garden, or at least from whom to learn.
Friends are also good for buckets full of poison: rhubarb leaf tea, a general insecticide (oxalic acid kills sucking insects)