Saturday, May 11, 2013

Hope for the Black Thumb

I was cleaning up some old files in my computer and found a draft of an unposted blog entry dated June 2011.  Retrospection is an awesome thing, especially when things come into full circle!

They said that a rose bush is an uber sturdy plant. They're invincible.  It would be impossible to kill one.

Oh really?

I killed two already.

Short of saying hello to them once in a while, I have not done anything to them. I am one of those who let the drip system run its course. I’m clueless about deadheading, hence, the two surviving rosebushes in the front yard are growing vertically and oddly.
However, apparently, I’m good with lavenders. Or just lucky?

Because summer is here and there is nothing more I want right now than to grow a mini-lavender farm in the backyard, and perhaps a small herb garden, I am propelled to banish the idea that I am impossible in the garden and just go for it. I have mowed the lawn one and a half times now in my whole life, so that must be as good a start as any! Just the thought of making a vegetable pasta dish from scratch with hand plucked tomatoes and basil from the backyard makes me want to madly rush to Home Depot right now and load the trunk with soil and seeds and a gardening tool set in a cutesy bag.

Fast forward to the present, two years later, and look what I have growing in the backyard now! It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

[Greenland Gardener Raised Bed Garden Kit]
Swiss chard, winterbor kale, and broccoli
It's starting to warm up so there will be a lot of kale meals this weekend before they get pulled out and  replaced with summer veggies - tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.

Radish sown from seed.
Spinach sown from seed after a few days of rain 
Broccoli in the foreground and swiss chard in the background.  No broccoli florets yet...
[The Grow Box Self-Watering Container]
..and subsequently ended up at the dinner table.
Lettuce growing in the desert - who knew?

Pea tendrils are so mysterious to me..
Peas are cold-lovers.  I was ready to give up on this since I planted too late and now it's getting too warm.  But look what I found today!  I might harvest ONE pea this season!

I am stalling a little bit on what to plant in the Grow Box for summer.  I already transplanted some thyme I've grown from seed and I'm thinking basil and green beans.  Yes, that's it!

[Strawberry/Etc. Bed]
Yes, they're coming!  

Mesclun salad mix and the remaining lettuce (which will be salad dinner this week).
More strawberries, green onions and garlic.  Garlic must be the EASIEST thing to grow.  Separate garlic cloves (yes, the kind you buy at the store) chuck garlic cloves in rich soil about 2" deep and wait.  You can't go wrong.  
The most economical way of growing your own vegetable garden is to start what you can from seed.  Depending on where you live, hot-loving plants like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, beans, basil need to be started indoors way in advance.  In areas where the growing period is short (period where temperatures dip in the 40's) such as Northern Nevada, your plants will be ready to go in the ground around May 15th if you started sowing indoors around March.

Future firestarters - Peppers!
Marigolds grown in a plastic container of store-bought veggies. 
This makings of Jack-and-the-Beanstalk beans
Ben and Jerry's hot pepper flavor!

Parsley reaching for the sunshine
Cucumber AND lemon cucumber  
Lavender, in my experience, is one of the hardest things to grow from seed.  My germination rate has been 4% (i.e. one out of 25), whereas everything else I've sown otherwise has been either 100% or 98%.  So that makes this one a rockstar!
Genovese basil - so many culinary possibilities!
The summer superstars and future caprese - beefsteak and cherry tomatoes!  

The biggest surprise is that the hard work you put into growing your own food is really all worthwhile when you chomp your meal and notice the staggering difference of fresh, quality, homegrown food as opposed to something that's been refrigerated and has traveled a thousand miles to get to your dinner table.  It eliminates so much waste, too.  How many times have you bought a lettuce head and only ended up eating a portion of it while the rest went bad in the fridge? Isn't it a waste to buy a bunch of herbs when you only need a few sprigs so you end up tossing the rest after it goes bad a few days later?

Sometimes, the case for gardening is pure reason and oftentimes, too simple.  If you have space and some time, isn't it the most obvious thing to do?  I am stoked about this yard-ening business (apparently) and if I'm using my own experiences growing things to give this little food revolution movement a little momentum, then it's just a bonus!

Happy summer!

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