Thursday, January 6, 2011

Garden 2011

I received two seed catalogs in the mail this week  from Johnny’s (out of Maine and with an excellent selection) and Burpee, and I am getting excited about planning our summer garden. Last year, with a new baby on the scene, we were not able to keep up with the maintenance, and although we did eat a lot of homegrown veggies, the garden was at least as much a source of stress as it was a source of enjoyment. Here are some photos from our first summer garden two years ago. We were more than a little over ambitious, and it did get out of control, but we ate so well, and felt so healthy and accomplished.
Some finger on the lens action- these are the onions, chard, and tomatoes...before the takeover

I made a little sign, and that is where the blog got it's name

Peppers, Marigolds, tomatoes, and herbs, all in a beautiful green mish-mash

So many squash and cukes

Even more squash and cukes- we made the mistake of leaving town for a few days...and the veggies grew to gigantor sizes

Just the very end of the pepper crop. We accidentally grew at least 3 times that amount!

Beets, my true veggie love. And beet greens, also delicious sauteed in oil.

Tzatziki, Tzatziki, Tzatziki

We had so much squash it became a nuisance- we used the patty pan for skeet!

The Beanstalk

Black Krim = so delicious

I am really looking forward to taking baby A out in the garden to pick fresh veggies and eat them straight from the plant. We always grow organically, which means the garden isn’t as groomed as it could be, but we still have plenty to eat after the buggies take their share.

We did grow a pretty decent fall garden our first year here, and having grown for a few years now, I am getting to know what does best in our soil, and what doesn’t grow so well. I am okay with not growing broccoli, cabbage, and collards, all of which get eaten right up by cabbage worms. What I am not okay with is what happens to our tomatoes every year, as blight kills the plants, and turns all of the lovely young fruits to mush on the vine. We always get some, but we watch a ton just rot, and it is unpleasant to reach for a tomato that is lovely red on one side, and find that it is cankered on the other. So, this year we are building a raised bed for the tomatoes. We will probably fill it with a soil and mushroom compost blend, and we will again try growing hybrids as well as heirlooms for variety. I intend to install weep hoses for watering, as uneven wetting has caused splitting in the past. Look out, blight. You are going down. 

The crop that always grows out of control, even when ignored, is our pepper crop. Last year, even with our lack of tending, we had more peppers than we knew what to do with. We grow bell, a hot mix, and poblano, and B makes tons of pepper sauces and dried cayennes to eat the rest of the year.

In addition to those two, some of my favorite garden veggies are carrots (which grow surprisingly well in our clay), beets, beets, and more beets (I can never get enough fresh beets), cucumbers (gotta love that tzatziki…on everything!), and green beans.  Some things I would like to try to grow better are corn, peas, melons, and winter squash.  Oh, and this year I would like to realize my goal from last year of having a dedicated herb garden with lots of rosemary, stevia, oregano, sage, thyme, basil, cilantro, etc. Perhaps my favorite summer meal is a pasta salad with any mix of fresh veggies, tons of herbs, a little crumbly cheese, and the requisite oil and vinegar. Yum. I am in trouble. Winter has only just begun….

Aside from the veggies and fruits, I always like to grow tons of marigolds, and usually try to get to other flowers less successfully. This year my MIL brought me flower seeds from our great aunt’s garden. She is a master gardener, and I am excited to try some of her seeds this year. I am very interested in edible blooms, and hope to incorporate those in the garden to make for some interesting summer eats. 
It is so funny that as I am writing this, the forecast calls for snow for most of the week to come. That is okay, I know better in my ripe old age than to wish any time away, and I am excited to use the next couple months for the leisurely planning of Garden 2011! May it be totally off the chain!

So, do any of you do any gardening? What are your favorite things to grow? Any suggestions? Are you gardening in another part of the world? In an urban garden? What challenges do you face? Please, please, tell me all about it!


  1. I love to garden and often my eyes are bigger than my garden plot. Have you seen the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Catalogs? They have an amazing array of heirloom seeds--and such interesting histories. Other than our unpredictable (snow in July) mountain weather, our worst garden problems are powdery mildew, and sclerotinia, a fungus that attacks sunflowers. I have an herb garden that becomes quite a thicket by the end of the summer.

    Your garden yield is fabulous! And i love the idea of using pattypans as skeet. We usually give the extra zukes to the pups to play with.

    Happy new year!

  2. Happy New Year Valerie! In what area do you live that you get snow in July? Wow! I bet that's gorgeous! We had snow flurries in the sun today, and it was beautiful out. I so, so want an herb thicket. And I will check out Baker Creek. Thanks for the suggestion! Heirlooms are so interesting in their variety.

  3. I live in the east slopes of the Cascade mountains in Washington state, about 80 miles east of Seattle. But don't let the proximity to the Big City fool you--our county is very rural. Our summers are usually hot during the day, but cool at night (temperature can be 104 during the day dropping to 60 or so at night).


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