You may recall we decided to garden this year with special attention being paid to food horses would like. That was months ago so it’s time for an update. Until the heatwave that is gripping the south started a few weeks ago, our garden was loaded with fruit and vegetables and I’d be kidding you if I said they were all for horses. This year we mostly planted carrots for them but since we learned how much our horses love watermelon, we’ve saved some of those for them, too. All these things take time, lots of weeding and sweat. Buying vegetables at the store is so much easier, though less satisfying. But I did find one thing that’s easy to grow in our garden and VERY low maintenance:
I’m here to tell ya, the easiest horse-friendly garden crop is…GRASS. This time last year, our garden was part of our lawn. One of our neighbors had mercy on us and brought his tractor over to turn the garden this spring, saving us a heap of manual labor. The tractor dug in deep and turned the soil up nicely but months later that grass figured out which end was up and thrived in our little garden. We didn’t weed for a week and the grass and weeds took over! I cut some of the grass with some hand clippers and gave the horses some and they seemed to like it as much as the carrots. Why the heck are we working so hard to produce veggies for them when they love the grass so much and it’s so easy to grow?
Seriously though, we have a tub of carrots we’ve harvested and they love them. I wish they were a little faster growing but we’ll be planting them again next year. Watermelon, too. The heatwave and lack of rain have all but killed our garden now so I guess the summer gardening season is over but we’re already planning for next year and our horses will continue to influence what we plant.
Did you grow some things for your horse this year?
Our garden is doing so well this year! A little too well, in fact, at least as far as the melon goes. We’re kind of newbies to the gardening thing as well as the horse thing (I did grow up in the Arizona desert, after all), so we’re making mistakes. Here’s one: when the seed packet says to thin the seedlings once they sprout, you really ought to follow that instruction. Bill thought the new watermelon and cantaloupe plants looked a little puny, so he left all five of them. On each mound of plants. All four of them. That’s right, we have 10 watermelon plants and 10 cantaloupe plants – in a garden that’s about 20′ by 25′. It’s now actually a melon patch with a few other plants struggling to maintain a foothold. Our pastor described it best when he compared it to kudzu.
Luckily for us, our friends like melon, and so does my horse. We learned that watermelon is a safe and fun treat for horses, so of course we had to try it. We found out that Moonshine isn’t that crazy about it, but Valentine LOVES it. He ate all we brought, and wanted more (we decided that moderation is probably the safest way to go – too much of anything, especially something new, isn’t a good idea).
So now we know about the watermelon. I haven’t been able to find anything on cantaloupe, though – do any of you know? Hurry, we have a zillion cantaloupe ready to ripen, and not nearly that many friends.
We spent a good part of this past weekend setting up a garden. Now the significance of this for us is that we’re previously desert people and are not used to gardening. I haven’t had a garden in almost 20 years and Mikki, an Arizona native, has never had a garden. Horses and the ability to garden were two of the top reasons for us deciding to move to Tennessee. So this weekend we put up some fencing, tilled the soil and began planting. As a horse owner, the thought occurred to me that we really ought to devote a portion of our garden to vegetables our horses like. I’m not sure we’ll save much money…a five pound bag of carrots at Costco and Sams Club runs around $2.50. But if we stagger our carrot planting, for example, at least we won’t have to make a trip to the store to buy them this summer. And we’ll know they were grown without any pesticides, except maybe some sevin dust, if needed.
The only trouble with this plan is, I don’t know what else to plant but carrots. I gave Valentine and Moonshine a radish the other day. She like it, he didn’t. I like radishes too but I could give Moonshine the ones I don’t want. I’ll call them horse radishes (haha). I suppose celery is an option. I’ll have to do some experimenting. Our garden is about 25 foot by 20 foot so we’ve got ample room to grow tomatoes, beans, some corn, strawberries, melons, etc.
As a horse-owner, having a garden is great. Now I know what to do with all that composted manure from the past year. I walked right past the fertilizer section of the Home Depot garden center and laughed.
So this horse owners garden right now consists of only carrots. Any suggestions on other veggies I should try, specifically for horses?