Orto Lessons Learned

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How does your garden grow? It started out as a strange season and it stayed that way. A cold wet spring, followed by a few short weeks of blasting heat, then cool and wet again.
To be honest, I thought it was something we did.

Raindrops on cherry tomatoes It’s been awhile since we’ve talked about our orto (vegetable garden). It started out as a strange season and it stayed that way.  A cold wet spring, followed by a few short weeks of blasting heat, then cool and wet again. 
To be honest, I thought it was something we did; but we heard from others in Umbria they had the same problems. Tomatoes stopped tomato-ing, zucchinis would bud but never grow, the eggplants rotted before they were ready to be picked.
It is a lesson in humility.  The ground around here is very fertile, everything grows, but not this year.  The old timers talk about a famine in the area in the 1960‘s and I could never understand why. These are careful farmers, they know the ways of the land, so how could there have been famine? Now I have a glimpse of what may have happened.

Aside from humility, we also learned the following:
1) Carrots need much sandier, looser soil. We grew carrot knots.

Carrot Knots
2) Zucchini: next year they are going on the bern by the wall. I’ve never, ever seen such huge zucchini leaves. They grow ‘em big in Italy!
3) Cucumbers can’t be planted anywhere near those spore spreading, fiendish, cross-pollenating zukes.

Cross Bred Cuke
4) I want to grow ginger and garlic next year. And maybe a bay tree, I hear they grow very fast.
5) I still have no idea what to do with the massive amount of grapes we have!

Grapes
6) Anyone who sends me stinging nettle recipes again is going to get a large gift of fresh stinging nettles. And you know how you are….!

Our bitter greens are coming in, the leeks are nearly ready, there’s been a last burst of fruit from the tomato plants, so I can’t complain too much.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s garden!

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