Spring is in the air, and rather than finish inside projects this week, I’ve been starting up a little garden in the backyard. With the size of our yard (a half acre) there’s so much that I could be doing this spring. But I’ll leave the flower beds and mulching until next year. Flowers are pretty, but a bigger priority for me is growing a kitchen garden that’s practical to have all summer long.
Last year in our old house I planted a container garden with mostly tomatoes and herbs. It was a learning experience, and overall very fun and satisfying as the summer went on. The previous owner of my new house had clearly spent a lot of time on her vegetable garden. There’s one large raised bed, and what looks like three smaller beds that were used last season. I’m really ridiculous at guessing measurements, but I’d say the raised bed is about 6’x12′ or 6’x15′, which is a lot of room for planting.
As of four days ago this bed was totally overcome with spring weeds. I seriously considered throwing some weed killer down over it and just planting some stuff in pots again. Overcoming the laziness in my nature…I decided that was a waste. I stopped contemplating, and started digging.
This is a halfway shot to show you all the crap I had to pull out of that dirt. The dandelions are easy to get up, but this vine-ey grass was a bitch and half. I’m thinking that maybe the previous owner planted this stuff last year as kind of a cover crop to restore the soil since she was so into gardening. And the dirt under there is super dark and full of worms. But by digging and pulling all of this out, I essentially hand-tilled most of the bed. It beats paying $50 to rent a tiller from Home Depot, I guess.
There were several herbs that came up from previous years, which definitely helped inspire me to clean it up. Without any effort of my own, there are already lots of chives, sage, rosemary, thyme, and parsley (curly and flat).
So today I added cilantro, two yellow bell pepper plants, one “Sweet 100” cherry tomato plant, and two “Mr. Stripey” heirloom tomato plants. I am looking to add some eggplant, zucchini, okra, basil, dill, and tarragon to the mix, but I need to go to a different garden center next week to find them.
The one thing I did not dig up from the bed were these strange, big, yellow-flowered plants. We’ve been trying to figure out since February what these things are. Anyone??
An impatient google image search has lead me to believe that it’s either rapeseed or canola. The leaves look kind of cabbage-y, and both of those are members of that general family. Plus the yellow flowers. But why would someone plant those things? They’re deliberately placed in that bed. The only think I can think of is if they add some nutrient to the soil that was missing before.
But it will be fun to see the garden grow through the summer. I love walking out back and getting fresh things for dinner (and not paying $2 each for some droopy herbs from the Kroger). I’d really be going all out with this garden if we hadn’t already signed on for a full season CSA share from Care of the Earth Community Farm. Last fall, they did a partial season that worked out really well for us. So I have to take into account the types of foods I’ll get often through the CSA, and the things we like to have more of can be planted in our garden. The first CSA share was this week:
This lettuce is bizarre and awesome:
So here’s to another season of fresh, real food grown at home, or by people you trust. And fingers crossed that all this stuff actually grows!