simple life, Uncategorized

Growing a Garden: From One Novice to Another

Sometimes you just can’t sleep, no matter how much you’d like to.

So today I think I’ll sit here, make myself an espresso and enjoy our silent house this afternoon as my baby, puppy, and husband all nap away.

 

This is our first planting season living in a house of our own with land of our own to till and to sow. We had simple plans for our first year. It was so so so tempting to jump right in and convert half of our backyard into a garden, but the husband (who tends to think more practically than I do) convinced me to settle on a 2’ by 10’ plot for our first year. The first day we dug our hands into the soil to plant our vegetable garden we thought we had an acre of land. Those seeds were so tiny compared to the vast (major exaggeration) amount of land before us.

The plan was simple – plant vegetables that we know we’d definitely eat: cucumbers, green beans, bell peppers, carrots, turnips, zucchini, tomatoes, and potatoes. We also planted basil, mint, dill, and cilantro in pots along the porch. Not bad for the first time around, right?

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Our turnips, carrots, and zucchini are growing great! Most of our turnips are nearing two inches in diameter, carrot greens are growing tall and the zucchini plants have begun to flower.

We’ve planted our potatoes in a box so they grow vertically. The vines are tall and we’ve planted nine seed potatoes, making us hopeful for a large crop.

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The cucumbers… well, they sprouted and, actually, that’s about all they did.

Of our green beans, six of the ten plants have grown and begun to weave around our rope trellis.

The bell peppers mimicked the cucumbers.

And now, finally, on our fourth attempt from seed, we have a tomato plant! It’s growing stronger each day and hopefully going to flower in the next couple weeks, yielding a late crop.

 

Now that we’re halfway through summer, Phill and I have been reflecting on our garden and it’s growth, or lack thereof in some plants’ cases (here’s looking at you, cucumber).

  1. Next summer we need to start our non-root vegetables indoors and much, much earlier than we did this year. Thankfully, both of our parents are growing peppers and cucumbers, so we have two additional sources for these vegetables this summer.
  2. We can use our “dead space” where there aren’t cucumbers or peppers and plant a late batch of basil (in one plot) and lettuce (in the other). Lettuce tends to grow better in cooler temperatures but hopefully, if we plant it in the back of our garden where it’s mostly shaded it will grow – even in the heat of summer. And more basil, because pesto. Do I really need to say more?
  3. We need to do more prep work with the soil next year. Our green beans are growing, but some of them are yellowing – a sign of nitrogen deficiency in the soil. We’ve been packing used coffee grounds around the roots weekly to try and compensate for the soil we’re using. Once we harvest this year’s crop, the plan is to add a thick layer of compost to our garden and mulch it heavily over winter. IMG_0506
  4. Speaking of winter, Phill and I are hoping to add in a fall crop of broccoli, garlic, and spinach. All of those are delicious and grow best in cool temps. Broccoli takes 60-80 days to mature, so if we plant our broccoli the in early August, it should be ready for us at the end of October, right around the time of our first frost. Spinach, which takes 35-45 days to mature, we can also plant in early August and get two full crops out before Jack Frost visits. Lastly, the garlic we can plant whenever; it will grow all winter long and be ready to harvest in July of next summer.

 

Ahh, next summer – I’m already dreaming of a garden three times the size of this year, full of our current crops plus sweet potatoes, butternut squash, asparagus, snap peas, cantaloupe, rhubarb, and pie pumpkins… and let’s be real, probably some more  – after all, I do have a few months to keep adding to my list.

 

This is the life, y’all.

The life the gives purpose to the summer heat and teaches you to lovingly embrace a good rainfall. The life that will encourage my children to eat fresh foods, get their hands dirty, and explore the outdoors. The life that inspires us to dream big, baby!

And in the midst of those dreams there is lettuce and basil to plant, sweet potato puree to clean off my baby’s face, and dinner to thaw.

 

Until next time, may your home and heart be full.

 

 

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