In the past Phil and I have done a tiny garden, tomatoes in a pot, container herbs… but this year is the Garden Experiment. We decided to build three raised beds with a variety of vegetables (mostly from seed) and see how they fare.
The kids quickly decided this was their new playground/sandbox. What fun it was trying to keep ’em out once we actually planted seeds. Especially Josiah, whose main goal in life is to get as dirty as possible.
Phil rigged some metal fencing as climbing posts for the eventual squash plants – but the kiddos saw its true potential. They love tunnels. A good ol’ cushion and blanket tunnel will keep them happily occupied while I do the laundry. Or the dishes.
Now I don’t have much of a green thumb, so just getting green shoots to come out of the ground is sweet victory to me.
Early on we enjoyed spinach and lettuce greens, and a couple weeks ago I was thrilled to notice some peas ready for the pickin’. I hadn’t noticed them because they blend right into the greenery or hide behind the leaves.
We enjoyed them straight from the vine, and I’m afraid the plant has since been picked clean. We love fresh peas! I excitedly started checking the other plants, and found a whole slew of baby veggies which are getting bigger and bigger each day. Just like the kiddos! *sniff sniff* Many of the veggies have beautiful flowers that bloom before the veggies grow, and I love the little curly vines that – which just a little coaxing – hang onto the trellis for support.
I’ve been very anxious at the state of my rainbow carrots, but every time I take a peek underneath the soil they’re still so tiny, despite a plethora of carrot greens growing above-ground. We finally decided to thin them out yesterday so they would have more room to grow. Some of them are so small, they can’t even be considered baby carrots. I call them fetal carrots. So sad, I hope they survive. We did find one good-sized, beautiful red carrot. It was delicious, but I was disappointed that the inside is orange like a traditional carrot.
In addition to the greens and peas, we’ve also picked some beans, potatoes, and onions. It feels so good to be grow food from seed, take care of it, and enjoy its bounty. Talk about health food! I try to imagine what it was like when living off the land was the norm for people.
So far, the verdict is that we need more garden space, so we’ll probably add three to four more raised beds next year. This is a learning process for me, from deciding what, when, and how to plant, to taking care of the plants and deciding how to harvest them (pick from the bottom, top, pinch off the top before it flowers?). In the beginning I was picking the spinach and lettuce while still small, but decided to leave them alone for a while and see if they thrived. Now, the spinach is tall but I’m not sure how much more I’ll get from it and the lettuce is in abundance, but the bigger it gets the more bitter it tastes. I need to find a happy medium!
I’m excited see what ripens next. Besides adding fresh produce to our meals, I hope to try some new recipes for canning and freezing. Put ’em Up!, a canning and preserving book I got from the library, has some excellent ideas that I hope to try – including rhubarb pickles, of all things. I’ll probably end up making salsa, ketchup, and sauce with the tomatoes, and pickles from the cukes. And I’m dying to try zucchini relish, but need to get the recipe from a friend. Do you have any favorite canning/preserving recipes? Do share.
While I was in the yard yesterday, I happened upon this butterfly enjoying the flower gardens.