How does your garden grow?

CherriesThis weekend marked the official start of spring — our garden is in! And those are *real* cherries growing on our tree. There must be a dozen of them growing … enough for a Barbie-sized pie. Maybe a cookie.

Here’s the what, where, how on our garden:

What

We just harvested all our spinach and froze it, totaling three pounds from a good-sized patch. A few more spinach plants are scattered among the lettuce.

We’ve had many good salads from our lettuce, which went in early, and now the lettuce is about to bolt.

We are gradually expanding our vegetable garden into our front yard. We have two pumpkin plants in the ground near our front drain spout (probably just jack-o-lantern pumpkins). Soon, we will carve away some more grass for a small bed to grow cantaloupes. And today we bought three wine barrel planters (not formerly my favorite “look” — but they are recycled, and so large!). In one of them we have planted scarlet runner beans that I hope will climb up and disguise our unattractive porch railings, and in front of the beans a bell pepper plant. In two more barrels in front of our house (on an also not-so-lovely bed of rock) we installed two Roma tomatoes and some basil seed.

In the back yard, we’ve got going:

  • Butternut squash (2)
  • “Sweet olive” cherry tomato, two “celebrity” tomatoes, one “Juliet,” one “Big Boy,” four more Roma (altogether three slicing tomatoes, seven paste and one cherry)
  • Peanuts (6)
  • Beets
  • Jalapenos (6)
  • Ancho chiles (2)
  • Bush green beans (6 square feet)
  • Brussels sprouts (6)
  • Potatoes (organic fingerlings from the grocery store that are growing fast in two separate containers)
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Onions that are going to seed from last year
  • Strawberries (about 10)
  • Cherries
  • A so-far-barren apricot tree
  • 2 new baby apple trees
  • Kale (about 8 square feet)
  • Napa cabbage (only one survived).

Yet to come are cucumbers (about 8 … last year’s 14 was way ambitious), new lettuce and radishes.

I think we even have some baby apples growing …

apples

Where

Our backyard garden includes an herb garden where the apricot tree grows, a side garden with the cherry tree and strawberries, a previously abandoned corner measuring about 90 square feet (that we’re giving to the squash, one container of potatoes and I plan to squeeze lettuce and radishes into the shadiest area), a regular bed about 48 square feet, and a triangular bed carved out of our lawn that measures about 40 or 50 square feet.

The apple trees are growing in two circular holes Mr. Cheap actually hacked out of our back driveway with a sledgehammer. Two tomatoes will grow in the recycling bins the city used to use, and the three whiskey barrels and two front yard spots are similar size.

Altogether, I think we’re gardening about 215 square feet. Hey, it’s .4% of an acre — and 3% of our lot.

How

This year, I tried to be very organized. I plotted out our garden carefully using graph paper. We planned ahead and didn’t overbuy at the garden store. I grew many of the seedlings (butternut squash and peanuts are from our saved seed; I also grew the pumpkin, cantaloupe, scarlet runner beans and okra). The only “extras” we sprang for at the garden store were a bell pepper and some basil seed, which I had overlooked in my planning.

What we learned last year

  • We learned we wanted more paste tomatoes and didn’t like yellow pear tomatoes nearly as much as we thought.
  • We learned the watermelon was a bust again.
  • We learned carrots aren’t worthwhile.
  • We learned to give the winter squash PLENTY of room.
  • We learned we could save squash all winter, which makes it worthwhile.
  • We learned we could make okra work.
  • We came thisclose to getting brussels sprouts off our plants and want to try again.
  • We learned to love the wasps and spiders that ate so many bugs, we experienced virtually no pest losses.

Tell us about your garden! What, where, how, and what did you learn from last year?

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2 thoughts on “How does your garden grow?

  1. L'an says:

    Since we successfully joined a CSA this year (and didn’t want to be overwhelmed with Too Many Vegetables–is that possible?) we judiciously pared down the garden this year: just four tomato plants, various lines of beets and carrots, lettuce, spinach, chard. I scored some half-whiskey barrels from an alley sometime over the winter (I wasn’t a big fan, either, but as you say, they are big!) and planted squash, zucchini, and strawberries in them. We’re hoping the squash plants will grow bountifully enough, like your runner beans, to disguise our less-than-attractive mulch-and-plastic front yard (formerly known as “the weedlot”).

    I am thoroughly jealous of your fruit trees, and that Barbie-sized cherry pie you’ll be having!

    And… I’m rabidly curious about your potatoes. How do you grow those? What kind of container? How much effort is it to dig ’em up in the fall? When do you know they’re done? (Can you tell I’ve never grown ’em, and haven’t been satisfied by the descriptions I’ve read? Please: fill me in with the explicit potato-farming details!)

  2. badhuman says:

    This was our first attempt at growing a garden and since we live in an apartment they are all in containers. We have little finger carrots, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, mustard, sorrel, cherokee trail of tears beans, bee balm, zucchini and a collection of herbs.

    Minus the herbs and strawberries we grew everything from seed. We learned that in Colorado you need to cover the seed pots with plastic wrap to keep the moisture in during the crucial germination process. I learned that lettuce and tomatoes hate me 🙂 but beans are my best friend since they grow quickly and luxuriously.

    For being newbies I think our garden is doing pretty well, so far nothing has bolted and most plants survived the seedling stage. We had some problem getting seeds to germinate but I think that’s just a fact of life.

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