05 Mar Specialist Corner: Jonny Guinn
Editor’s Note: Our industry specialists all host a column in our HUB Insider monthly newsletter, but only readers in their specialist industry get to read them. We have selected some of the best examples of these columns and posted them in this blog.
Now that I have a place with enough room to grow something, I’m determined to make the most of it. I started a garden three years ago, and that year, everything prospered. We ate for months off the peas, beans, okra and everything else, and it was worth every minute I invested in it.
Last year, not so much.
The first year was kind of an experiment to see whether my thumb was green enough to make it work. I grew some vegetables one year when I was a kid, but we had moved the following year and never had enough ground until now to try it again.
So I tried a little bit of everything that first year, expecting to learn what would do well in this zone with this soil. Corn. Tomatoes. Potatoes. Yellow Squash, Carrots, Zucchini. Cantaloupe. Onions. Garlic. Beets, Hot Peppers, Bell Peppers, Radishes, Green Beans, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Okra, Macaroni.
Much to the amazement of my neighbors, friends, and family it all did really well. The macaroni was the only thing that just flat didn’t work, but I would have been pretty impressed with myself if it had.
My favorite was the okra. Now, some of you reading this might be wondering how anybody could say a kind word about okra, but it can be really good if you prepare it properly. Deep-fried with a cornmeal breading is one way, but I’m particularly partial to a simple stir-fry where you julienne the okra (slice it lengthwise into little strips) and cook it with oil, garlic, salt and pepper, and other veggies. It’s not overly slimy that way, especially if you cut it with lemon or lime juice while cooking.
Last year’s crop proved that I’m not the genius gardener my kids had come to believe I was. As great as the first year was, last year was correspondingly bad. Maybe it was the late start; maybe it was using seeds left over from the previous year. All I know for sure is, it wasn’t very successful.
Which is why I’m looking at this coming growing season with renewed enthusiasm. I’m going to plant on time with good quality plants and seeds. I’m going to weed. I’m going to water. And I’m going to enjoy it all, but especially the okra.