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State of the Garden Address

So this is year two of my attempt to garden, and it is an odd year.

Our house is on the market, so there is a chance I will see little of the results of my labor. Yet the alternative of planting nothing at all just seemed dreary (and I know I'd regret it more if I planted nothing and then nobody bought the house for months more, a very likely possibility in this current market). And of course, there is the secret wish that somehow the garden will be a selling point.

Anyway, my garden this year still contains a few experiments and a few solids.

1. Parsley, oregano, thyme -- My parsley, oregano, and thyme survived the winter well, even being covered in snow for a week, and are now plush and full and bursting forth with herbish glory.

2. Cilantro -- I planted a bit of cilantro late in the fall, but lost one of the plants to the winter snow that hit Dallas early February. The remaining two plants are quite lovely looking now. I think I need to plant some new seedlings, though, since I learned last year that parsley is not the kind of herb to just hang around all year. Once it flowers, it is about done for.

3. Basil -- Last year's behemoth was lovely, but the placement of it, given its eventual size, was not well conceived. So I have planted in a new location this year. I am crossing my fingers that this doesn't affect the behemoth size of my future basil too much. There was something lovely about plucking leaves from that basilmoth day after day, hoping it wouldn't devour me.

4. Swiss chard -- I suffered much failure with the swiss chard last year. While the package says to plant in early spring, I planted in late late spring. And then a few more times as various bugs and other ravages seemed to whither and splat my chard. Yet, a few plants survived, tiny and frail. And they pushed through the winter, were buried under snow with the rest of the garden. And now spring has hit and my Swiss chard is exploding. I actually had to pull one of the plants because it was too close to the others, and I have a friend whose Swiss chard plants in her front yard are a testament to exactly how bushy big these things can get. So, I am guessing Swiss chard is more of a fall vegetable. Or a really really really early spring vegetable. No late plantings!

5. Radishes -- As always, these are an easy plant and an easy harvest. Good thing they are tasty, too! I planted a huge section of them this year and am looking forward to roasting the roots and sauteeing the spiky greens.

6. Butter lettuce -- Mixed results with this last year, but I am hoping the earlier spring planting helps. I lost a a lot of sprouts to snails last year, but the coffee ground trick seemed to work once I discovered it. So I am starting with the coffee grounds early this year. I still have a solid supply of coffee from all of J's work trips last year (because we don't actually drink coffee ourselves, he brought home all his hotel packets) and have sprinkled my sprouts liberally. I planted it back against the fence where it is much more shaded as well since last year's summer heat blasted my original lettuce survivors into oblivion.

7. Tomatoes, bell peppers, cayenne peppers -- I have mixed feelings on these three. Last year was a miserable failure for them all. What few sprouted were quickly eaten by snails. Part of the problem is I am not obeying the directions and planting them indoors in special planters and then transferring them outside much later. I figure if nature can grow a tomato plant by flinging seeds randomly into the ground, so can I. Still not sure about my theory, given last year's massive failure on this end, but this is a second year to give it a try using the coffee ground trick to hopefully protect what sproutlings come. My tomatoes have sprouted and seem fine so far. No sign yet of the bell peppers or cayenne pepper plants.

8. Carrots -- I decided last year I hated growing carrots. I had heard they were easy, like radishes, but I barely got any to take, and they went all the way into late fall getting near any sort of pickable size, and their pickable sizes weren't particularly pickable. For something to take that long to get to the harvest point and yield so little just annoyed me. Yet here I am again, planting carrots. I think I am hoping that last year's carrots were an anomaly due to the super late spring planting. This year I planted right on the last frost date, so we'll see.... (or not, in the case the house is bought and somebody else inherits my little garden)

9. Green beans -- Last year, I learned that three plants is not enough. And that the end of summer megaheat kills green bean plants pretty fast. So I have planted tons more plants this year (at the expense of planting other things) and gotten them planted early with the rest of the garden. They just started shoving their sprouts up yesterday, though a few are still lagging.

10. Peas -- Same as the green beans, I learned these need a lot more plants in order to get a decent harvest for a meal and that the summer megaheat time kills them deader than dead. My plants last year never had a chance to really grow well before getting hit too hard by the weather, so hopefully this year will fare better. The one pea pod I harvested last year contained two very very tasty fresh peas. I want more.

11. Zuchinni -- Last year, my zuchinni plants were devoured from within by squash borer beetles. I've learned to hate those distinctive red/black bastards. I did some reading online, and apparently you can wipe the undersides of the leaves and stems on a weekly basis and successfully dislodge all eggs (because the eggs laid on the undersides take about 10 days to hatch). I am going to try this method this year, assuming again the house isn't bought before I can, and see how it goes. It sounds slightly labor intensive, but I've only planted three plants. The hardest part will be wiping the leaves during the flowering season with the bees all over the plants. I am guessing that will mean some early morning stem wiping, before the bees get their groggy little butts out of bed. Or late night, since bees seem to have an early bedtime as well. 

And that is pretty much my garden attempt this year. Now it is a race between growing tasty garden tidbits and/or selling the house and/or having my plants destroyed by random bugs and birds and snails.

At leats I know the radishes will pull through for me, even if everything else fails. :)



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 26th, 2011 12:19 pm (UTC)
I've had good luck with snow peas--you eat the whole pod, so your sense of what you're getting is maybe better?

And for carrots, I've found that the fat Japanese carrots are more rewarding than the long thin American carrots...

Your garden sounds excellent, in any case. And thanks for the tip about the squash borer--which has been the bane of my squash-planting existence!
Mar. 26th, 2011 02:48 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'll have to check out Japanese carrots. I'm still working through my one packet of American pansy carrot seeds.

As for snow peas, I was sorely tempted to buy them instead of the standard pod peas, but they, uh, unfortunately give my husband gas. Poor guy...

Hopefully the wiping of the stem and leaf undersides once per week will solve the vine borer beetle problem (I accidentally called them squash borer beetles up above--doh!). If not, it'll be back to the research pit online to find a new solution. I'd prefer to not have to throw chemicals around, or soap, or other oddities. I just want things to grow long enough for me to eat them.
Mar. 26th, 2011 04:33 pm (UTC)
I just want things to grow long enough for me to eat them.

I'd like to see that emblazoned on a T-shirt :D
Mar. 26th, 2011 12:20 pm (UTC)
Also, roasting radishes? Tell me more!
Mar. 26th, 2011 02:45 pm (UTC)
Heh, I've found you can roast just about anything, and if you roast these with a mix of potatoes, it gives a nice contrast of textures and flavors. Just toss them in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast away!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


Michelle Muenzler

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