In the garden, late June 2022

Here we are, on the very cusp of July, and I've neglected to share about our garden. Nicholas and I had a plot at a community garden when we were engaged back in 2013, but we haven't had a vegetable garden since—until this year, that is. I wanted to share a bit about our garden this year: what we're growing, how we're growing it, and how it's going so far.

We wanted to ease into gardening, so we didn't plant a massive garden, but I wanted a decent amount of variety so we can learn from what works well and what doesn't work as well for us in this space and with our capacity, since we are new to this.

What we planted

From seed (direct sow) :

  • carrots
  • marigolds
  • chamomile
  • lavender
  • zucchini
  • cilantro
  • cabbage

Plants/seedlings:

  • slicer tomatoes
  • cherry tomatoes
  • jalepenos
  • bell peppers
  • collard greens
  • onions (two varieties)
  • a dahlia
  • rosemary
  • basil

How we planted it

We chose three raised beds, 3'x4'. And we chose to fill them with various layers of organic material i.e. logs, leaves, sticks from the yard, top soil and organic potting soil. And then, just before a large rain, with Finn in a bouncer and Cooper elbow deep in compost, we finished planting all of it. I did have some herbs planted in pots, most of which were duplicates, but the only surviving one is cilantro, since the deck doesn't get sufficient sun, and critters managed to dig up the seeds and garlic bulbs. Since then, the garden is the main priority, anyway.

As to the layout of the beds, I did a little research about companion planting and tried to abide by it. Basil paired with tomatoes, and marigolds and other "pungent" plants throughout to deter critters. I made labels with large coffee stirrers. And we used some leftover chicken wire and garden posts left from the previous owners to create a barrier from the numerous neighborhood bunnies.

How it's going

Overall, it's going great! We've had a decent amount of hot weather, so things are growing fast, at least it feels like they are to my untrained eye. My basil bolted, so I made pesto from it, and we've harvested the first of the collard greens (so good)! I want to make a point to truly use up or preserve all that I can from our garden and to be a good steward of the food we're growing. Cooper refers to it as "my [his] garden" and loves to go in and play and help and give mini garden tours on video to send to my parents. When I harvested collards, he made sure to tell me I was his "big helper." He is especially excited about the onions and the zucchini. I'm looking forward to involving him in the preserving and preparation of what we grow, as well.

As an aside, I practiced my canning skills a couple weeks ago by making a batch of strawberry jam, using store bought organic strawberries and this jam recipe. It was somewhat hectic during the stirring phase, so I didn't cook it as long as it needed and it didn't set perfectly, but it tastes great! And Coop was a very eager helper throughout, as he helped put the strawberries in the blender, and stir the honey and pectin in the pot with the berries, and of course played with the canning tools when they weren't in use. He was so proud of our jam. I love when we can give our kids a glimpse of a true start-to-finish big project. And now, I don't feel quite so overwhelmed with the idea of canning other things, say tomatoes.

We have gotten into a routine of visiting and watering the garden every day, and it's a nice, daily routine. I'll share more as the weeks go by, and as we harvest more. And I'll share more of what we decide to preserve. I have some rhubarb and more strawberries in the freezer, prepped and ready for another round of jam, and we found and picked some wild black raspberries this week too, that I may find something to do with them, if we don't eat them all first. It's all new, but it feels good to learn.


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