Feature Month: Megan & Ben

While we will be featuring many new participants this year, we also have a few veterans coming back to share their most recent experiences with us. The first of which, are my dear friends Megan and Ben. If you followed along last year then you will definitely recognize their crew. This can-do family maintains some beautiful gardens and on top of that, Megan has started her own blog. If you sew, or would like to get started, you can follow her here. Now, without further ado, I present to you the Harvey family’s 2021 garden.

Name: Megan and Ben Harvey

State: New York

Grow Zone: 4…we think. I always forget and have to look it up.

Gardening style (container, raised bed, tilled plot, etc.): raised bed and container

How long have you been gardening: We have been gardening together for about six years. We put in the first raised beds about a year after we bought our house. Megan has helped her mom and grandpa garden forever!

Why do you garden: To get food. (Ben’s answer!). We garden because we love to eat! It’s also important to us to show our children where food comes from and how it grows.

Do you typically garden alone or with friends/family/pets: We garden together with Lena (4) and Eric (1).

Biggest success of 2021 season: Our raspberries! We are so excited to share that we got baskets and baskets of them! We’ve been barely getting a handful every year, and this year they just wouldn’t stop showing up. The unfortunate thing is, we’re not sure what we did to be successful…we didn’t really do anything. Possible causes of amazing berry yield: we added some cow manure to the top of the soil, weeded them…? Let’s be real, it was the bees. The bushes were absolutely swarming with them earlier in June. Hopefully they come back next year!

Another exciting thing was the seeds from the Earthy Seed Swap hosted by @earthymrsrice — Some are doing great: cukes, beans, some flowers, and dill, plus more. For some, the success remains to be seen, but we have quite viny luffa vines, at least!

Most unfortunate failure (lesson) of 2021 season: There’s a lot. Our squash plants look sad and terrible. The leaves are yellow, plants are dying, and we’ve got two tiny yellow squashes struggling into existence. They are definitely infested with bugs. We’d love ideas to get rid of the bugs for next year. Maybe not plant squash like things for a year or two?

Starting seeds inside is another area for improvement. We eagerly got a grow light this spring and started seeds (many from the swap!) on top of our fridge. They started off great, but then…stalled. And some died. And none of them really did anything exciting at all. Some of the peppers and tomatoes are still alive in the garden, but the plants are tiny and I don’t know if we’ll get anything from them at all. We don’t really know how to fix this one or what to do differently either. We did put them outside to harden them, but they were so small then, I’m wondering if we need to try something else from the start.

What is your most used gardening tool: Last year, Ben’s was the hose. This year, it’s rained so much I don’t think I’ve watered with the hose all July. We can’t even tell if our new Oyas are working or not! So, we’re going with our fences. We had a major woodchuck problem, again. Lena’s prize peas almost didn’t make it, it was so bad. We ended up adding fence pieces between the other fence pieces and buried them half in the ground. Fingers crossed, no problems since. Hopefully we’ve plugged all the holes for woodchucks, at least!

Favorite plant that you’ve ever grown: This year, it’s the raspberries! They’re Ben’s favorite, Eric is a huge fan, and they were so prolific this year. Also near the top are the ever popular peas, although Lena has taken quite a liking to the green beans this year. They’re so bushy we can’t see our carrots! We’re excited to discover more favorites as the kids find out what they love to eat.

What are you most looking forward to growing in the future: Mostly, we are interested in trying different types of things. The seed swap (I’m talking about that a lot, it was so cool) revealed that there is a nearly endless variety of…varieties, and I’d love to see what grows well here that we wouldn’t normally choose or be able to find in our local stores.

One last piece of advice for our readers: Garden with your kids, keep fighting back against the pests (but really, what do we do about the squash bugs?!), and try not to get discouraged when something doesn’t work out like you hoped. I’m a little discouraged right now with the state of some plants, but it’s ok.

Squash is a challenge for the even the most experienced of gardeners, don’t lose hope my friends! You’re doing a great job and learning is the most fulfilling part of the process…aside from the food, of course. It may be a good first step to have your soil tested. It’s easier to fight pests if you’re plants are otherwise healthy. As for having the kiddos in the garden, I LOVE seeing the two of you share your appreciation for nature with your littles. Values and memories, all wrapped into one cathartic experience — priceless. Readers, if any of you want to reach out to Megan and Ben, feel free to comment below. Cheers, friends!

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