5/21/11 Update

More planting

There has been less planting lately, but we are still getting some new things out there. Over the past few weeks, here is what we have added:

Purple cabbage
Curry leaves
Many varieties of tomato plants–Marsha brought over multiple seedlings that she grew in her basement, and she wasn’t even sure which kinds were going in here
Eggplant–at least two different varieties
Pepper plants, because the seeds didn’t seem to be sprouting

Using the produce

Finally, we are getting more usable stuff! The mint is insane already. I have used it in multiple ways, but the patch just seems to get bigger and bigger. I did minted lamb burgers on the grill a few weeks ago, and they were delicious. We had friends over and everyone loved them. Last week I made a very pretty and delicious chamomile mint tea (based on this recipe, although I didn’t have quite 1/4 cup of chamomile flowers; the half a cup or so of mint made up for it):

This was so refreshing! I liked it so much, I asked Marsha to bring me more chamomile so that I can do it more often. I am planning on starting a new batch of mint liqueur today, part of my strategy to get a lot more out of my mint this year.

We have been using a lot of spinach. I go out before dinner many nights and pick a bunch of leaves to add to whatever I am making. I have used it in a sausage and tomato risotto, added it to soups, and put handfuls into fruit smoothies. The lettuce is looking very hardy, so I have been using that, too. I have added leaves to sandwiches and eaten many salads.

The cilantro that came back from last year is already flowering, so I need to take it and dry it soon, but in the meantime I have added it to guacamole and used it to top curry dishes, along with adding it to slaws and salads. I am thinking about taking some of the leaves and blending them with just a bit of water to freeze in small cubes to use in recipes for a more fresh flavor, too. I have another cilantro plant that is still not close to flowering, so we will have fresh cilantro for a while, still.

The asparagus has started producing this year, but not very much at a time. I have been picking one or two stalks every few mornings, and I have just been eating it raw. So delicious, but I am looking forward to getting enough to use in recipes. Hopefully next year.

The strawberries are falling prey to the the local wildlife. So far, I have eaten two strawberries that I found at the peak of ripeness. I think we need some netting if we are to save any more.

4/15/11 Update

We have so much more planting to chronicle this week.

On the effects of doubling the size of the garden

When I decided to double the size of my garden this year, I knew we would be getting more stuff, but I had no idea how much more. It doesn’t even seem like twice as much, it seems exponentially more. Is that possible? The planting went on for over an hour, and next week, there will be more. This week was all planting seeds, next week, Marsha will be bringing plants that she started in her basement. I am definitely going to have my hands full with preserving!

On the boy in nature

Wednesday, I took the boy out to look at the new garden, to see what we did with the new installation (he was at his dad’s house last week when the garden went in) and see if he had any questions to ask Marsha when she came the next day. He looked over everything with great interest. When we were done, he told me “Nature makes me calm. I don’t know why, but it does.” He really does amaze me—that is so insightful for an 8 year old!

Yesterday, he rushed home from school to make sure he didn’t miss any garden time, even offering another kid $1 to carry his backpack so that he could run faster. So cute! When Marsha arrived, he spent a long time out with her loosening the soil and planting like crazy. My job was to write down what was being planted on our handy little garden map (and make my own list to post on here.) At one point, I had to go inside for a bit to check on some things, and when I came back out, he ran around the boxes, pointing out what I had missed, wrapping his arms around the section where the watermelon was planted, pointing out the yellow squash area and the poles for beans. Near the end, he asked to plant some mystery seeds from the jar that Marsha keeps for seeds that fall out of their packets. She sifted out the dirt and handed him several seeds, and he looked through them, correctly identifying quite a few of them. He is definitely hands on in the garden!

What we planted

Banana melons
Pole beans
Scallop squash
Shiso–an herb I had not heard of; the packet says it has a flavor that has been described as curry-like and a combination of cumin, cilantro and/or parsley with a hint of cinnamon; it sounds delicious
Black Beauty zucchini
Striped Italian zucchini
Baby round zucchini
Lemon cucumbers
Armenian burpless cucumbers
Homemade pickle cucumbers
Yellow squash
Serrano peppers
Yellow bell peppers
Purple bell peppers
Orange bell peppers
Collard greens
Green/red bell peppers
Japanese eggplant
Purple ribbon lavender (French)
Hidcote dwarf lavender

Plants Marsha will be bringing next week

Tomatoes–many kinds
Italian eggplant
Various peppers
Whatever Marsha finds in her basement!

The garden has been started! This is my third year doing the backyard garden, and I am still ridiculously excited about it. I don’t do most of the planting and weeding work–Backdoor Harvest does that for me–but I do try to use everything that I can. Last year I really got serious about using up my garden produce; I’ve linked to several posts on my old blog about that below. This year, I am getting even more serious. I am getting a small freezer for my basement, and I am going to learn to can! I am so thrilled to be getting more and more of my food from my own yard, and I want to be able to take advantage of that through the winter, w
hen nothing is producing for me outside. We doubled the size of the garden this year, so that I have plenty of stuff to preserve.

I have created a spreadsheet to track what I want to grow, what we have planted, and to keep track of some recipes I want to try. Items highlighted in green have been planted, but here is a running list, starting with what we have at the initial installation on 4/9/11.

Here is a picture of the new garden boxes and most of the existing garden:

The new boxes will get summer plants tomorrow or possibly next week, when we are more sure there won’t be another frost.

Here is a picture of my fig tree. It isn’t very pretty, because I put some straw from back by the compost bin around it to help it stay warm, but it is the stick in the middle:

I am assured that this will get very big and have multiple figs this summer. I can’t wait!

State of the Garden

Already there, coming back from last year:
Tart Cherry trees
Kale (small amount)

Planted on 4/9:
More garlic
More spinach
Onions–red, white, yellow
Mustard greens
Sugar snap peas
Fig tree

Past using up the garden links

Using up the garden: Mint
Using up the garden: Turnip Greens
Using up the garden: Butternut squash, thyme and garlic
Using up the garden: Turnip greens, garlic, Anaheim chilis
Using up the garden: Various saved up pictures and meals


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