We're an ordinary family, complete with picky eaters, budget concerns, and time management issues. But to prove that "eating local" works - even for busy families in cooler climates - we're trading Chick-Fil-A and goldfish crackers for grassfed meat and local produce. Join our adventure in learning to eat (sort of) sustainably for the summer!

Friday, May 6, 2011

First gardening of the year

Maybe I'm being overly optimistic thinking that we're past frost for the year, but yesterday was so nice I was compelled to go out and buy vegetables for the garden.

I'm always trying new things in an effort to actually get any of my gardens to produce.  First we had a nice raised bed with soil that after three years of amendments was actually friable.  But it was all the way at the back of the yard (inconvenient) in a section that was so wet it actually got moss on the surface in between the plants, and it was in shade for part of the day.

Last year I cleared out some room in the front yard and actually swapped out the soil, dragging out the clay from the front and replacing it with the good soil from the back.  But the site up front is still too shady for many plants, and thanks to that and some unfortunate visitors, we only got half a dozen tomatoes all year.

This year I'm trying to approach this in a more logical fashion.  Last fall I put in a new bed up front in full sun, then transplanted a few things there to make it look a little less barren all winter.  Now I'm on the lookout for edible plants that are also attractive - things I can grow and eat without it looking like I'm setting up a truck garden in my front yard.

My first purchase was a hanging basket full of Tumbling Toms.  I have great hopes for this plant, which is already covered in blossoms and green tomatoes.  I'm keeping an eye on the weather and letting it sleep over in the garage in the evenings so it doesn't get too chilled ... an hopefully I'll get a few dozen tomatoes this year!

I've also got a bed that's mostly sunny that I have in the past filled with ornamental plants like daylilies, snapdragons, and peonies.

Last year I punted some of the flowers out of there and put in herbs - rosemary, basil, thyme, lavender - instead, and they did really well.  I also put in a tomato plant which went toes-up in a matter of weeks, so it's not a full-proof spot, but it's better than the shady swamp out back.  This year I'm upping the ante a bit.  All of the snapdragons are gone and have been replaced by freckled romaine lettuce and dwarf celery plants, and I'm planting cilantro in between the daylilies.  I've got some stevia tucked into a corner, as well, and a flat of basil plants in the garage waiting to harden off a bit more before I stick them in the ground.

Over in the new-this-year bed I've got some lemongrass (which is supposed to look like ornamental grass) and some fennel (which is supposed to get to be 4' tall, and I don't care because fennel is awesome).  I transplanted some of the thyme over there, moved a shepherd's crook up there for the tomato planter, and I've still got room left for a couple more short things.  The soil's not bad over there ... maybe I'll try carrots again this year.  I've got a spot saved for a rhubarb, too - I just have to pick which type I want.

I've got several decorative metal tepees I'd like to cover with climbing crops, maybe sugar snap peas or even pickle cucumbers.  I'll have to fence them somehow to keep the groundhog out, I suppose, but if I can get anything to actually grow I'll be happy to do that.

I don't have any pictures yet (too busy planting yesterday to photograph anything!), but I'll get some soon. I can't wait to see what this is going to look (and taste) like!

1 comment:

  1. Can you just come over and do all of the work to get us started in this sensible fashion at my house. I try to keep it simple and small to begin and it always gets out of hand because someone (Mike) decides it needs to be bigger, and in big long rows only in the back yard "garden" space that he tilled up that just turns into a horrific field of junk!