So far this season we’ve spent most of our spring weekends working in our yard and garden. To most people this probably doesn’t sound like an ideal weekend but over the past four years we’ve enjoyed the improvements we made so much that it is now one of our favorite places to be.
We’re pretty much in maintenance mode in the backyard, and most of our work goes into the garden. BUT, Josh started a new project in the front yard that we are very excited about, so I thought I’d give you a sneak peek before I reveal the whole project.
Back to the garden…
Our garden is officially planted and now that we’ve had some warm weather and some rain, things are really starting to grow! We harvested our first strawberry a few weeks ago and just last week our raspberries started turning color. So never fear, this summer we’ve been waiting for is finally upon us!
We originally thought about cutting back and going easy on ourselves this year just in case we get matched, but a few flips through the seed catalog and a couple trips to the farmers market where we buy our plant starts ended that discussion. There are so many possibilities and I couldn’t let a garden bed go unplanted. Maybe next year. 🙂
Here’s a list of what we are growing. There’s probably too much detail in here for most of you but this blog also serves as a reference to refer back to every year. Plus, maybe my garden rambling will help you out too!
Luffa gourd (1) – I’m growing a luffa sponge! I thought they came from the ocean until I found seeds in a catalog so I’m experimenting with growing my own. They grow like regular gourds but instead of eating them or displaying them, you let them dry and then peel off the outer layer to reveal a dried luffa sponge. I planted two and unfortunately only one is left thanks to some hungry critters. It has been a bit touch-and-go with the second but I’m hopeful that it will survive!
Kale (3) – We tried growing kale a few years ago but aphids infested them so we gave up. This year I planted nasturtiums to repel bugs and have been diligent about picking off eggs when I see them. Two of the three are being munched on by slugs or caterpillars but one is untouched. I understand that bugs attack unhealthy plants so maybe I damaged two of them when I planted them? We’ll see how it goes!
Delicata squash (2) – I grew these a few years ago but between overwatering and hungry rats, we only harvested three of of three plants. This year I decided to try again and bought starts. We’ll see how that goes!
Leeks – Bad potting soil killed all my leek starts last year but this year they are going strong! I planted them using the trench method and so far so good. It’s a pretty ingenious method!
Brandymaster Pink Tomato (2) – This is a version of the Brandywine tomato that we love but yields little fruit. The farmer we bought the start from suggested it because it’s sweet and juicy and perfect for slicing, but yields more fruit than Brandywines.
Orange Blossom Tomato (1) – This is another good slicing tomato recommended to us by the farmer. It is also good for slicing and is an early variety so we can stagger our harvests.
Blueberries, raspberries & strawberries – It’s year three for our berries and we can already tell it is going to be an abundant season. We picked our first strawberry on May 29 and our first raspberry on June 15. The blueberries are still a few weeks away but those branches are packed with fruit!
Rhubarb – We continue to have more rhubarb than we can eat so if you want some let us know! We’re also soliciting non-sweet recipe suggestions. 🙂
Hops – They continue to do well and have taken over that garden bed so I think we are stuck with them forever at this point. We planted some flower seed in the bed too as a way to attract the good insects that eat the aphids. We did it last year too and were rewarded by beautiful orange poppies.
Thyme – If there is one herb I recommend you plant, it’s thyme. It grows well in a pot, overwinters and it stays relatively small. Plus, a lot of recipes call for fresh thyme and the bunches you buy at the store are huge which can lead to food waste. I keep ours in a small pot on our deck so it’s convenient for grabbing a few stems for dinner.
Mint – If there is one herb I recommend growing in a pot and NOT in a raised bed or directly in the ground, it’s mint. It also overwinters well and is a great plant to put by your front door because it is attractive and smells delicious.
Tomatillos (2) – These are now a permanent staple in our garden. I can’t go without them! They do get tall and unruly but I get at least 20 pounds between two plants which is a great deal considering the fact that the fruit is at least $2 a pound at the farmers market!
Green beans (3) – These are so easy to grow from seed and are so abundant that I think green beans will always be in our garden. I’d like to try a pole bean instead of bush beans next year so I can build a vertical trellis and save some room in the garden.
Lemon cucumbers (1) – One plant continues to provide more than enough cucumbers for our household plus the hungry kids in our neighborhood! This year I built a trellis to keep it from spilling over the side of the bed and onto the ground. I made it using scraps from our DIY tomato cage project so hopefully it will hold up!
Cherry tomatoes (2) – These are by far the best cherry tomatoes on the planet. We buy the Sun Gold variety from one of our favorite farms, which happens to be Sun Gold Farm. They are small, juicy and the high-yielding!
Yellow pear tomatoes (1) – This is the second year we’ve planted pear tomatoes and they are perfect for snacking or adding to salads. Last year we planted two which yielded more than we could eat so this year we only planted one.
Beets – This is the third year for beets and this year’s crop is looking less abundant. Most of the seeds I planted haven’t sprouted so I think I need to go back and plant a few more. Squirrels usually dig up the seeds but we saved them by building a frame to cover the bed.
Carrots – This is also the third year for carrots and the crop is looking better than the beets but still not great because most of them didn’t sprout. But, maybe that means I’ll have bigger carrots this year! I don’t thin them nearly as much as I should because I feel sad about pulling out seedlings, which usually means they don’t grow very large.
Red onions – This is the second year of red onions and I love having such a staple crop in our garden. I didn’t dedicate a big space to them so we won’t get very many. They are a low maintenance crop so maybe I’ll plant more when we have a kiddo and I have less time to garden.
Cilantro (8) – I’m trying a new technique for cilantro this year at the suggestion of a local farmer. I bought one cilantro start to get us going and then planted several seeds a few weeks later. Cilantro bolts quickly, so by planting seeds in succession the plants will grow at different rates, giving us a longer-lasting crops.
Basil (1) – It never grows well for me but I bought one start anyway because fresh basil with tomatoes is a perfect combo.
Parsley (1) – The start I bought was off to a rough start and I doubted it would survive but a few days of heavy rain and some worm castings seem to have brought it back from the dead.
What are you growing this season? I’d love to know!