Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Garden therapy - A backyard garden update (Dec)

It's been a few weeks since I talked about my most local of veggie sources - my backyard garden. Of course, that doesn't mean that nothing's happened. I mean seriously, the last time I posted, here's what my garden looked like. As you can tell, three weeks makes a HUGE difference!

With this being my first garden, I'll admit, I'm learning a lot. Like, just because my Square Foot Gardening Book says to plant one cabbage per square foot doesn't mean they'll fit. Are you catching the leaf-span of those cabbage? I feel bad for the green onions that are squished between the cabbage and the snow peas. Thankfully, they are still growing well and though you can't tell from the photo, they are ready to be harvested as soon as I am ready to eat them. Mmm. Onions go well with everything: stir fries, soups, fried potatoes...

This past week was very exciting in snow pea news. I'm not sure if you can see this in the photo or not, but I'm starting to get little white flowers on those leaves. I've never grown snow peas before, but something tells me that little snow pea pods are just around the corner. I'm really looking forward to nibbling on those as I harvest. I wonder if any will actually make it into the house?

Other than the onions, nothing else is ready to harvest yet. As I mentioned, I'm sure it won't be much longer for the snow peas, but it'll probably be the end of December/early January before we dig into the cabbage, spinach, and broccoli (photo on left). In the meantime, I'm enjoying learning what each plant looks like as it grows and matures. Never having grown up around a garden, this is a wonderful adventure for me. 

So we have a few "next steps" in the works. First, I need to do some reading on how to know when it's time to harvest - how big are the spinach supposed to get before I start munching on the leaves? Also, I have an order in for more cedar via my dad  who offered to barter services from his machine shop for cedar from a customer of his. So the plan is to put in two more beds (one for herbs and one for root crops). Once those are in and producing, we should be eating on a daily basis from our garden and using the farmers market to supplement our bounty. Talk about eating fresh (and frugally)!

What a difference a year can make. Last fall, I was worried that a local diet experiment would mean certain starvation. And here I am 14 months later, having had wonderful success with a local diet, having learned how to cook my favorite foods from scratch, now actually growing my own veggies... successfully... with plans to can the excess! At this point, I'm sure my family is trying to figure out which alien species has taken over my body. But as it turns out, it's just a healthier, happier me!


Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

WOW things really have taken off since the last time you updated about the garden. How exciting is it to see your first garden grown? I've been gardening for a couple of years now and I don't think I'll ever lose the excitement I get when a seed germinates, a plant blooms, or something produces fruit!

About your spinach - I am no expert, but what I understand is that you can kind of treat it as a "clip and go" veggie. You can begin eating the spinach in it's baby form, go out and cut off how much you need, and if I understand correctly, it will continue to grow. I am trying to grow spinach indoors, and I can tell you, I would much rather be trying to grow it in the warm weather of Texas right about now!

Can't wait to see you next garden update - OH - or your market to table post where you eat the delicious bounty from your garden. Don't things you've grown yourself ALWAYS taste better than anything else?

Glenda said...

I was hoping you'd do an update soon =). Your garden is looking so lovely!!

Inspired in great part by you sharing pictures of the start-up of your square foot garden, we ("we" meaning "my husband" LOL) are prepping one ourselves to be ready for spring planting. We couldn't find untreated lumber in shorter than 6' lengths, so our bed is a bit larger than yours. We've placed our order for seeds, as well as some pepper and tomato transplants, and will be excited when all that stuff starts showing up. My hubby said he wants to go ahead and make a second raised bed -- still have to use the 6' lengths of lumber, but this time he'll make the bed more rectangular than square. We'll also do lots of planting in planters/pots -- I especially love having various herbs in pots on the front porch.

We're excited about the idea of growing stuff, starting in the spring and then, from that point on, growing food year-round.

Thanks for providing great inspiration, and I hope you'll keep posting updates about your garden(s)!!

Heather @ SGF said...

jennifer - Thanks for the tip on the spinach. I'll have to put some in my stir fry and see how it tastes. Because the cabbage were so big and crowding other things out, I snipped some of the bottom leaves and had them today for lunch. VERY good! It doesn't seem to hurt the plant any and it was just too big. Good sign of a healthy garden, though, I suppose.

You know we've been having super funky weather. It was REALLY cold earlier this week (30's and 40's at night) and then last night it was in the low 60's I think. Cold then hot, then cold, then hot. I'm not sure what to wear when I get up :) On the plus side, since it's a warmer day, I got my compost pile turned. Trying to take advantage of the nicer days when I can.

Glenda - Thanks! I'm super proud of it! And good for you for planning for your spring garden. You are going to absolutely love it! I can hardly believe how easy it all is. I can hardly wait to start work on those 2 other beds. There's no "rules" on how long the bed is, just try to make it so that you can reach in and tend to all your plants without having to step on the soil, that way it stays loose.

I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of your beds. Doesn't the idea of picking tomatoes out of your garden make you giggle with excitement! :)

eco 'burban mom said...

Oh, seriously... you with the sunshine and warmth and gardens and all... UGH! We've got snow, ice, more snow coming and cold wind and just UGH!

All kidding aside - it looks great!!!

Green Resolutions said...

Amazing. I can't believe it is December and you're growing all that. I mean I live pretty far South, but it wouldn't have occurred to me to try growing anything now. I was just thinking of planting more in the spring. Thanks for posting the pictures!

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

glad to hear your local eating is going so well! The vegetables look like they're thriving.

Heather @ SGF said...

eco 'burban mom - yeah, I lived in Indiana for 11 years and don't miss it for a minute. This climate sure does help the whole eating local thing. I had some cabbage leaves for lunch today (in a rice dish). How amazing to be eating out of my garden... in December!

Green Resolutions - I probably wouldn't have thought you could grow anything either, but after more than a solid year of eating out of our local farmers market, I knew it was possible. I'm just amazed that right out of the gate, I'm having so much yummy success!

Lisa - It's wonderful. I can hardly wait to get those other two beds in. Of course, after I get two more beds in, I'll probably start planning for two more. Addiction :)

livingmyrichlife said...

Amazing. I'm inspired. I truly would love to have our own garden produce much of our food. Unfortunately it's going to be a few years until we can fully embrace it, but in the new year I'm planning on experimenting with a straw bale garden in our front courtyard.

Heather @ SGF said...

livingmyrichlife - the good news is you don't have to have a lot of room to start a garden. This first bed is only 4 ft x 4 ft and needs very little tending to. Once you get started, you are going to love it!