What a difference a month makes, especially when it is filled with super sunny days interspersed with super rainy days. From my last gardening update in April, all of our vegetables have just exploded. I adore walking out into the backyard, it makes me feel a bit like a farmer.
Let me start off by saying, one of the best things I did for myself last year was to keep a gardening journal. I didn’t write anything that was all that profound, but did make notes about what grew well and when, what didn’t grow well, what needed more space and other tidbits. This was a game-changer for me this year, as it definitely helped prevent some repeat mistakes.
Knowing that we were swamped in fresh produce last year, I started a Pinterest board called Next Spring’s Veggie Bounty with tons of different recipes to put our food to good use.
First raised bed
I planted garlic last fall that is just thriving. According to Emily over at Frugal Living NW, July is about the time to harvest garlic, once it starts getting droopy and going to seed. I literally just shoved cloves of garlic in the ground and forgot about them. If you have been thinking about planting anything, try this. It’s not an immediate reward, but seems like it would be hard to mess up.
Along the back, I planted two rows of snap peas that can vine themselves up the trellis my husband built. In the remaining area, I have chard, kale and spinach. My husband asked why I planted these, since we can get them in abundance from our CSA or the farmer’s market. My answer: I don’t know, they are easy. I started these from seed and they can be harvested a few leaves at a time, which is fun for the kids. Why not?
We go through a LOT of cilantro, so I started that from seed as well in a pot by itself. I told myself I was not going to bother with lettuce again this year, as I’ve managed to kill it 3 years in a row. It’s supposed to be easy, but lettuce and I just don’t work well together. I stumbled across a pack of lettuce seeds for $.25 at Ace Hardware and gave in to the temptation again. So far, so good, but we’ll see. The bugs seem to really like my lettuce, any suggestions?
Second raised bed
This bed used to be filled with dump trucks and shovels and I was certain there was no way to get my kids to stop digging long enough for me to plant. Somehow, having them help me plant seeds and water has taken precedence over digging and they are content for now.
We planted cucumbers around both edges so they could trail off and 2 huge tomato plants in the middle. We had a few almost-frost nights and I was pretty sure they weren’t going to make it, but they’re hanging in. We even have a few little green tomatoes sprouting!
On a whim, I threw in some mini pumpkin seeds in a bare spot and they are growing like crazy. Now to figure out how to actually train them. Thoughts? A trellis up the back or can I somehow use the fence to my advantage?
Third raised bed
Last fall, I transplanted a strawberry plant and ignored it all winter. Apparently, these things are pretty hardy. The darn thing is growing like crazy and we already have about 20 strawberries close to ready to harvest.
I also planted beets, carrots and radishes. Mistake #1 of 2012: Planting the carrots too close to the radishes. The radishes are taking over (I didn’t realize how big the greens would get) and are starting to smother everything around them. Live and learn, in the journal for next year.
Even though I truthfully don’t know much about gardening, I have been learning slowly along the way. I honestly believe that there is not much out there as rewarding as growing something in your own backyard that is so amazingly functional as a vegetable or fruit. I love flowers, but have a hard time committing the time to taking care of them. With a vegetable garden, it doesn’t feel like effort at all. I am saving money, saving trips to the grocery store and teaching my kids a valuable lesson about what it takes to grow food and where their food comes from. Even if it’s just from a box in the backyard.
Bonus points for having a garden, the vegetables are so darn pretty.
Please share with us what you are up to in your garden this year, whether it be acres and acres or a single pot in the backyard. Have you tried something new this year? Found something amazing you’d like to share with us?