Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Garden therapy - A backyard garden update (Jan)

It's been a month since my last garden post and what a amazing difference a month makes! Thankfully, it rained enough while we were away over the holidays and just about everything survived (one of the younger broccoli bit the dust). Anyway, over the last month, I've been routinely picking cabbage leaves, onions, spinach, and even a few snow peas (though those snow peas rarely make it as far as the house). 

It won't be long before I'm picking my first head of cabbage. There are 5 in all and I'll pick one as I need it, letting the others grow until I need yet another. I see lots of salads, stir fries and plenty of cabbage soup in my future. Get Big Bertha out, honey! We're going to be doing some major canning before long. 

Each one is growing nicely (ok, the leaf span is so large it borders on mutant, but the heads too are growing larger by the day) and are about the size of two fists. These are certainly my favorite veggie to show off!

The broccoli is growing slowly but surely, and I can just now start to see the little broccoli thing-ies in between all those leaves - is there a technical word for those? broccoli follicles or something? Anyway, the broccoli will surely be harvested late in the season, but even they are coming along. Well, all but one. One little broccoli didn't make it through our vacation away from home, but I had a few extra onions and a kale to slip in its place. 

The snow peas definitely have had issues. Technically, they could be grown without supports. Practically, it SOOO wasn't working. So as you probably can tell from the photo, I've tied them to a wire mesh to keep them vertical. Not only does this keep the bugs off them and up and out of the moist soil, but it makes it WAY easier to see those little snow peas when they're ready to be picked. Next time, we'll put them in the back row with a trellis. I'm learning...

More than anything else, though, my favorite veggie so far is the green onion. There's just something about going out to the garden, digging around in the dirt to loosen that little bulb, pulling it up by the roots, and walking proudly into the kitchen to make whatever veggie concoction I've come up with for the day. They are so incredibly easy to grow, they multiply on their own, and they are so wonderfully tasty. Yeah, for onions!

This 4 ft x 4 ft square of veggie love was the right way to start - small and uncomplicated. I've learned a lot in just these few short months and have been taking notes to do a few things differently next year (like making sure those snow peas have some support and being prepared for gargantuan cabbage). But the time has come to expand this little garden. With all that wood I received from my Dad for the holidays, we have enough to cover the back yard with gardens. I'm not ready to tend to that much veggie love just yet, but we will definitely be adding to our little plot. I've already purchased more bags of vermiculite and purchased seeds for the spring planting. So far, I have seeds for carrots, bush beans, cucumber, spaghetti squash, and bell peppers. I have plenty of leftover basil, oregano, and sage seeds from last year. All I need to get now are some tomato plants and seed potatoes for sweet potatoes. I've examined the planting charts for our area and I should be ready to plant in early March. That means we need to get the beds built, the grass pulled and the soil mixed in the next 6-7 weeks. 

Sure, there's a lot of work ahead for me, but I'm ready. The feeling of going into the backyard to fetch veggies for a dish you'll serve within the hour? It's fulfilling. It's empowering. It's the best kind of therapy there is. Garden therapy. Bring it on!


Anonymous said...

the broccoli is worth the wait! ours was absolutely delicious. we had enough to keep and some to share and now some of the plants are putting out side shoots. didja know that the stems are tasty too?

Seraphim said...

Mmm... broccoli stems...lovely peeled and sauted with butter and some herbs. Tastes almost like asparagus... dribble.

This post makes me wish more than ever that I had a garden! Nevermind. This year we are growing parsley, basil, coriander, thyme, lettuce, tomatoes and some nice edible nasturtium flowers in pots. Every little helps!

greeen sheeep said...

Man I wish I could grow food in January. I am so jealous! The view out my window is a white snowy desert. Yuck!

Your posts and pictures have me looking forward to summer. For now I will just have to stare at my seed catalogs and live vicariously through you.

Heather @ SGF said...

blondeoverboard - Oh yeah. The stems are wonderful! We always steam those up with the heads. In fact, one of the vendors at the farmers market has a good recipe for the leaves too. I'm going to have to get that one from him.

Seraphim - I have a few herbs inside too. I totally forgot to mention them: basil, sage, thyme, parsley, mint... Your tomatoes sound good, though. Are you planting them in pots?

Greeen Sheeep - It's pretty cold here (30's at night), but no snow thankfully. Just that one day in December. It's nice being able to have access to local foods all year round. We are really lucky to live where we do.

Theresa said...

Another hearty yes-vote for garden therapy here as well! My garden is covered in 2 feet of snow right now, so I'll have to get some vicarious therapy through your garden pictures!

I think you will love the bush beans - they are so fast growing and prolific producers, you'll have lots to can/pickle even with just a few square feet of bean plants. Saving the seed is fairly easy too, now that I know to cut the bean plants first and hang them to dry. I lost a lot of seeds last year because I thought they had to stay on the plant to dry. I think beans have been my favorite thing to plant so far.

Your garden sounds delicious, and March isn't that far away, is it? :)

Green Bean said...

Ahh, that felt better just looking at your photos and reading your update. I am itching for spring - or at least itching to get more serious about planning my spring garden.

Heather @ SGF said...

Theresa - I've never done bush beans, but you make it sound so easy. I was trying to find some veggies I didn't have to trellis and this seemed like just the thing.

Green Bean- I'm ready too. Well, the seeds are ready. I still have beds to build, but it's going to be awesome!