My dad is the kind of man who likes to have a project to keep him occupied. He doesn’t just sit and relax well. He’s not one to, in the middle of the day, sit down indoors with a book (unless, perhaps, it’s in the middle of winter). Instead, he prefers to be outside. Busy with his hands. Creating, doing, growing. He relaxes, yes, but normally with a glass of wine after dinner, after a full days work.
When my parents were in town recently my dad really helped in the development of my garden. I’d had it all planned out, drawn out in a large sketch pad, with references to what I’d planted previous years to aid in crop rotation along with what secondary herbs and plants I was going to grow as companion plants, it really is a gorgeous plan.
BUT, between having three kids five and under, and both of us attending school (T. finishing his MBA classes and me with IIN) in addition to our “day jobs” we just hadn’t quite had the time to get all the seeds and plants in the ground, let alone build out the new beds my plan was counting on.
So the garden became my dad’s project while he was here (he grows a substantial garden himself, in Colorado) and not only did he watch the boys while out there, helping them plant our green beans and squash and okra, but he also carved out four new beds and (along with my mom) helped weed out our very straggly strawberry beds. Thank you dad and mom for all of your help!
Have you seen my entire garden before? It’s not as fancy as some of the one’s I’ve pinned on Pinterest, but it is ours!
I’m working on building up a bed on the outside of the garden fence of perennial herbs. This is to the right of the garden gate, with my gorgeous Mother’s Day roses from last year, parsley (which has since been heavily pruned so it will leaf out more!) along with lemon thyme, regular and garlic chives, rhubarb and oregano.
and this is to the left of the garden gate. Another Mother’s Day rose (not so prolific, but still lovely and fragrant!) and two clumps of lemon balm. There is some paltry, yellowing basil amongst them, but this is the side I’ll be working on building up this year with a few more herbs
Can you spot the tomato growing up amongst the peas? It’s a volunteer, one of many in the garden this year! It’s a bit frustrating, I BABIED little tomato seedlings for the past ten weeks and then, out of nowhere, these random tomato plants start popping up all over the garden and are heartier and bigger than any of the ones I’ve grown so far! I’m taking advantage of them, even in their random locations . . . I’m keeping them all!
Here you can see my well-behaved tomato plants, planted where I chose. It seems sparse now but I know from experience that by mid-summer it will be hard to pick in between the plants. This year I bought some six foot tall stakes to stake the majority of my tomatoes; I’ve learned the hard way from year’s past that I need the height!
Potatoes! I’m super excited about this little plot. I’ve never grown potatoes before, but always wanted to. We have three, eight-foot in length rows of potatoes featuring Purple Peruvian and Yukon Gold’s. I can’t wait to dig them up this fall.
We’ve enjoyed them in salads nearly every day.
I’ve learned a lesson about beans the past few years. The first year I grew them, in our rental house in Omaha, I planted them before the tree above them leafed out and didn’t realize they’d get too much shade. It also rained a lot that year and all my beans were always filthy. The second year I grew them, the first year in this garden, I grew pole beans (on the assumption that they’d be less dirty) and I rigged up a hodepodge of fence posts and twine, often adding in the next layer of twine for them to grow on at least three to five days after they probably really needed it. I didn’t plant them thick enough and I couldn’t keep up with their upward mobility, and, though they were good, it was a lot of work for little return. Last year, I grew pole beans again but opted for bamboo teepees. Unfortunately, last year I planted too heavily, three bean plants per bamboo pole, and they mostly toppled and grew at random rates. I had plenty of beans to eat for dinner, mostly heirloom varieties which often were quite stringy and more difficult for the little ones to eat, but not enough at one time to sufficiently can for the winter, let alone pickle (and I do love my dilly beans).
So, this year, I’m back again to bush beans. Blue Lake, which are nice and tender with little to no string and which ought to produce amply enough to meet my canning and pickling requirements. I’m also going to be growing some wax beans and a variety of heirloom pole beans again (Dove’s Breast and Purple Podded varieties are my favorite) but with the idea that those will be for the table and without the pressure on them to provide for the year.
I also opted to try okra this year, in a 2′x8′ crop. Here you can see they are just now sprouting out of the ground. Thinking I’ll likely freeze (for gumbo) and pickle what we don’t eat fresh. Do you have a favorite okra recipe you’d like to share with me?
We’ve got six hills of summer squash, both zucchini and a straight-necked yellow squash, intermixed in this bed with some volunteer carrots (Cosmic Purples, I believe) from last year. I’m letting them grow and am going to try to capture their seeds. Wish me luck! We are also growing carrots for this year in another (unpictured) bed, Parisienne Carrots, which work well in our thicker, clay-heavy soil, which are intermixed with scallions (there’s that companion planting again!) and we’ll be planting a second crop of another variety later this summer.
Rounding out the garden is a new perennial I just planted this year, Horseradish!
And what would a garden be without chickens? Our chicken coop is actually about a third of the interior of the garden shed and their run encompasses a large space right outside the garden and near the compost bins. The baby chicks have grown! And are loving their space outside. Luckily, they are all still with us and we’re eagerly awaiting our first eggs, which will probably surprise us in two to three months or so.
The chickens love the boys as they keep giving them treats of clover and dandelions (you know, the weeds in the garden), along with overripe strawberries and, this week, the first of the mulberries (which are right outside their run)
This one, by the way, is one of our three Americauna’s. They are not the prettiest bird, they remind me of a pigeon, but I can’t wait to see their green and blue eggs!
Here’s Michael snacking on some kale (I think this is the curly kale, though we’re also growing lacinato kale in the next bed over) and can you see the purple stains on his fingers and mouth? Those are from mulberries which just started ripening this week. Our mulberries are vaguely sweet, but not super flavorful (though the birds love them). Does anyone have a good recipe featuring mullberries? We’re about to be inundated with them!
I hope you like this little peek into our home! How does your garden grow?
PS. I’m linking up with Ginny’s Saturday Garden Journal. Even though it’s, you know, Tuesday. Go visit her for more garden ogling love.