Thursday, May 24, 2012

Developing my green thumb, part 2

And now for what is definitely one of my favorite parts of being outdoors during the summer: the food garden!

Last year, we went for a relatively simple herb garden, attempted a few plants (like squash, which flowered but gave us no fruit), and grew a bunch of tomatoes.  This year, I felt I had learned a lot from last year's attempts, and I was ready to try a few more ambitious plants.

Because we have such a small plot of land for a garden, I wanted to save that space for the "real" vegetables.  So I moved our herbs up to a box, and made another box of heirloom carrots (more on that in a second).  Here's our herb and veggie setup:

In the herb box (top left) are: basil, dill, chocolate mint, rosemary, onion chives, and Greek oregano.  The oregano is a favorite - nice and spicy!  Below that picture are our strawberries - we don't have enough to actually do anything with them, but they're nice for a treat.  The box on the bottom, which looks a little sad in the picture, is for growing the carrots - they are just tiny sprouts in the pic, but they're coming up a bit more now.

The vegetable garden has: garden peas (back row, can't see them very well yet but they will get huge and start climbing up the trellis), fingerling potatoes (next row up, they are much taller now), onions, broccoli (just 3 - we lost one to slugs before I figured out how to fix that), lettuce, and kale.  The kale looked better in this picture than it looks now - we have an ant problem that seems to be just at the kale, but I think I've fixed that, too.

Thus far, we've just had a few strawberries and a salad with the lettuce.  The rest of the veggies aren't ready yet, but we're excited for when they are!

Now, I said I'd come back to the carrots.  They are a special kind of heirloom carrot (Paris Market), which we ordered from SeedSavers.  The reason for this is, we tried to grow carrots last year and got nothing.  This year, I found a variety that will grow well in carrots - it's short and stumpy, kinda like a radish.  Hopefully, when we're done, they'll look like this:

Weird, right?  I hope they work out and taste awesome - I'm pretty excited about them.

The other things we've got growing are all on the deck, in medium and large pots by their own.  Here's the montage:

They are, clockwise from top left:  green pepper, red pepper, Sweet 100 Cherry, Early Girl (a hybrid - gotta get lots of tomatoes somehow!), Pink Brandywine, yellow cherry, and Black Krim.  We went for a mixture of colors and sizes with the tomatoes - most are heirloom and should taste wonderful, but we did pick a few hybrids to make sure we have some tomatoes at the end of the season.  Not in the picture are the Gold Medal seedlings that just came up, as well as the Mountain Gold VFF-resistant tomato plant we bought last week.

I'm really hoping that by planting a few weeks early this year, we will have lots and lots of tomatoes and veggies to eat throughout the season.  Although gardening is kinda fun, it's much more fun when there's actual food to show for it.

And now I will leave you with a funny garden story:

Last winter, when everything froze and the snow fell in October, I decided I wasn't willing to really work on the garden anymore.  I left everything in the ground over the winter and just waited until spring to pull everything up.  When I was tilling this spring, I came across a scraggly-looking oregano plant in the corner of the garden.  It didn't look too hot, but still had leaves on it, so I figured I'd stick it in a pot and see what happened.  I wish I had a picture so you could see how sad it looked when I pulled it up - but here it is now (actually, it looks even better now than it did when I took this picture):

Apparently, the lesson of gardening is to be as lazy as possible in the winter, and you might have some bonus plants come spring!  This year, I plan to cover all the herb pots with burlap and leave them out for the winter - it seems most of them can over-winter as long as they're covered, and if we have a mild winter again, we may not have to buy any more herbs next year!

I promise to post recipes and updates about the garden this year - hopefully we will have a little more time to devote to our little garden, and we'll get a lot more out of it this summer.

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