Sunday, May 18, 2008

How does your garden grow?

The past few years we've had a lot of success growing tomatoes and herbs during the summer. This year I really wanted to try my hand at a real vegetable garden. We have plenty of yard for it, but not enough sunlight. UNTIL....Matt chopped down our Holly tree. The Holly tree provided me with beautiful festive greenery each Christmas, but it also liked to drop prickly leaves during the spring and summer months, which made it not so fun for the kids to play in the yard barefoot. When the Holly tree was gone, Matt decided we now had a place for a small garden.

I have to say it, even though I know I shouldn't, but Matt picked the spot for the garden primarily based on the fact that the area didn't have grass already and the area in the backyard (behind the creek) that I believed to be the sunniest spot in the yard - sun being essential to the grow of vegetables - had thick green grass covering it. You can see that our priorities are a bit different. But Matt tilled up the ground and got it all ready for me to plant and I don't think he would have gone to all that work if he wasn't hoping for success. We planted seedlings of lettuce and broccoli and seeds of sugar snap peas and green beans.

Check out my beautiful row of broccoli. I took these pictures a few weeks ago and since then they've gotten a little taller and the based is thicker and stronger. This slightly unfocused picture is the beginning of a sugar snap pea plant. Since then they've really taken off and I have about ten plants growing and they're at least six inches tall (as opposed to an inch in this picture).

Here you see a green bean plant just starting to unfold. Isn't that cool?

Unfortunately, that's as cool as it got, because only two plants really started coming up and those two have really stalled and it looks like they aren't going to make it. In their place we've added cucumbers and green peppers.

As for the lettuce, I don't think it looks any different today than it did a month ago. I also don't know how to know when it's ready to eat. It looks like I could eat it now and just call it baby lettuce. Anyone, anyone? How do I know that lettuce is at it's peak and ready for picking?

Another development since planting our garden is blooming of our neighbor's tree which is on the other side of our fence (you can see a corner of it in the top left of the first picture). Matt said he forgot about how much shade it gave us - probably because previously we had a big tree there giving us its fair share of shade.

So now between noon and two - the hottest hours of the day - our garden is completely in the shade. If I happen to be outside at that time, I just look at it, and then look to the back of our yard that is still bright and sunny, and sigh. I think I've done a pretty good job (for me) of not mentioning it too many times to Matt - only twice...okay...maybe three times.

Another new thing I'm doing this year is growing strawberries in planters. Last year Matt bought some hanging plants for our fence that turned out to be shade plants. I realized how much sun we got there because the plants were completely wilted if I missed watering them for one day. So the strawberries hang from the fence, hopefully out of sight of all the little critters that come prowling about.

Don't they look lovely? The first one is just now starting to turn red and I can't wait to see how it turns out.
This might be pretty obvious considering this whole post is all about it, but I am pretty obsessed with watching things grow. I go out every day and check out everything to see how it's doing. It's been pouring out today, but as soon as it lets up I'm heading out to check out my plants and vegetables. You might think I'm crazy, but you really can see a difference on a day to day basis. It is so exciting and interesting to watch plants and vegetables grow. I have no idea how our new vegetables will turn out this year, but we'll take what we learn and make it better the following summer.
Another thing I've thought about and talked about with others is finding a plot of land and teaming up with some friends to get a serious garden going. I'm sure there are places out there that rent some of their land for people to garden on, but I have no idea how to go about finding something like that. Anyone, anyone?
Any other gardeners out there? Any tips or advice for me? Also let me know if you want some sugar snap peas - I think we're going to have a bumper crop!


Dawn said...

this is so cool! we've always wanted to have more of a garden too but not enough space. there is just nothing like tomatoes out of your own garden, huh? We eat tomato sandwiches for weeks. maybe we'll have to try some more container gardening out on the patio now that our shade trees are gone :-(

renee said...

you KNOW I would share land with you to grow a big garden! let's start looking.... :)
so glad you're starting all of these veggies, cause then you can give me all your tips when we have a yard in our new house! I long to have a homemade grown salad right from my backyard....(sigh)
but I'll settle for my homegrown herbs for now.

Erin said...

i've had a rather large garden for 4 years now. i actually just bought this years plants yesterday and hope to get them planted today. i don't bother with seeds because the plants i get from the green house are always more mature, produce fruit faster and are really not very expensive. I bought this year's entire planting for $33. 2 whole flats, plus strawberries and herbs. I don't have a ton of advice for you right now b/c you're growing different plants than i do. i would caution you on your fencing, though, if you have deer. my first year, i put up just a 3 foot fence b/c i was worried about rabbits and groundhogs, etc. but found out one morning that the deer are worse. they ate every one of my tomato plants to the ground. now we have a 6 foot chicken wire fence...


julie said...

your garden looks great! we are growing lettuce for the first time, too and have NO clue when it is good to eat! With the rain, it's been growing like a weed, but again... no clue when to bring it in. It tastes good! E and I took a little piece off the other day.

Along with Renee - I would LOVE LOVE to share land and grow a big garden!! Seriously! We should do that!!

Crafty P said...

Megan- your garden is so beautiful already! I would love to grow some things... eventually, but I think we really need a house with a bigger yard and definitely more SUN. Our backyard is very shady. I thought of growing some things on the back deck, but... haven't.

Once I get to the farmer's markets, I always buy green plants for outside and herbs. Those I can handle. I'm still not all that seasoned in growing things other than babies... one day, I get around to learning how to grow veggies though.

Incidentally, we watched Wallace & Gromit and the curse of the Were-Rabbit the other night. YOur post made me think of it. Have you seen it?

Anonymous said...

if i lived closer i would so do that with you! i love your garden. it so inpsires me- i am a gardener in spirit:) hopefully one day in the flesh too!

Teri said...

Meg - your garden looks amazing! And I actually think you're wise for not having your garden in direct sunlight...that way if you're away for a long weekend or something, you won't have to worry as much that it hasn't been watered every single day. I wish we had the room to plant a garden! I'll have to stick with my potted plants :(

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