Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

How does your garden grow?

I am a recovering black thumb. Before 2008, I killed everything I grew--and in short order. Herbs in the window? They lasted a couple of weeks at best. When I did plant things outside, they withered and died as soon as they dried out a week later! A houseplant? Forget about it.

My dad always loved having us work in the garden--and it was my least favorite Saturday chore. I wasn't a kid who enjoyed dirt, let alone spiders and worms. I wanted to be inside with my book. But he'd drag us out to the garden plot and as we'd work he'd sermonize on why gardening was so good for us. I rolled my eyes and did the bare minimum until I could get away with going back inside. I did not get my dad's love for gardening and figured it was just a hold-on from his boyhood days in Idaho.

But last year, motivated by a desire to be more self-reliant and the need to teach my children the many lessons that can be learned in the garden, we decided to plant a garden as a family. We had a lot of fun working together on it (at least until September, when no one wanted to go water or even harvest half the time,) and we really enjoyed eating the fruits (and veggies) of our labors. The boys learned a lot about the principles of sewing what you reap, tending your garden, and searching out and eradicating the evils that threatened our garden. And my black thumb? Well, the peppers never really did anything until October, but our cherry tomato plant nearly took over the entire garden and produced tomatoes through Thanksgiving weekend.


Last month, as soon as we were past the frost, we planted a few crops that were new to us: raddichio, romaine, spinach, bush beans, sugar snap peas, strawberries, and a few varieties of onions. We've been enjoying the lettuce and spinach for a month now, and are anxiously awaiting the other foods to be ready for eating.


It's time for us to plant our summer/fall harvest stuff now. Our backyard is still under construction--I have my fingers crossed that our new concrete will be poured sometime in the next week. I am hesitant to plant all our tender veggies and berries so near where the workers will be tromping around, pouring and stamping our new patio. Anyhow, this year we are more ambitious. Besides planting the tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, and herbs that we did last year, we are going to add a few melons, blackberries (or boysenberries if we can find them), peppers, and more herbs. And this year we want to do enough tomatoes to be able to can some. I think last year's spot got less sun than we needed for maximum production, so we have picked a new spot this year for the sun-loving beauties.


What is your favorite thing to grow? Is your thumb black or green? When do you get to start planting in your neck of the woods?

13 comments:

Judy Stohl said...

I love reading your posts each day. You accomplish so much and you are so busy, you make me tired. I am jealous of your garden. It sounds wonderful! I miss you!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Oh I'm jealous of your currently plantable weather. We're not past our frost up North for another month I think. My kids get seed packets in their Easter basket each year, and what they plant is "their" item to care for and harvest in the garden. Kind of fun.

Jen H. said...

I have always been a plant-killer, as well. But last fall we moved into a house that had four 4'x8' planter boxes in the back yard. I have no more excuses not to garden.

We had a lot of fun on Wednesday fixing up the soil for planting. As soon as I can get a drip system in there (or after our Spring Break trip if the drip system doesn't happen), my girls and I are planning to plant tomatoes, romaine, carrots, watermelon, and maybe corn. Oh, and cilantro and basil. I hope at least some of them survive!

Andrea said...

I love gardening. It just is amazing what a little seed can become. My problem is that I don't know how to can or preserve anything. I would love to can tomatoes, wow!

Sonja said...

We are anxiously awaiting the last of the snow! We finally planted some seeds inside. (We'll see how that goes)

Your garden last year looked terrific! I'm sure this year will be the same, and that thumb will be green forever.

Happy gardening!

Kim said...

I dream of having a garden. But between the pool and play set there just isn't enough sunny space to go around. Not to mention our 15 month old Great Dane who would likely harvest the crop much too soon for our liking.

I used to keep a garden at my parents house. And we plan to have a large garden at our next home when we have finally realized our dream of owning several acres. But for now I say bravo for fighting that thumb of yours and getting it done. I think gardens have wonderful teaching potential for children. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!!

Stacey said...

We, too, put in our garden this last Sat. We have tomatoes, cucmbers (which I hope to pickle. I did your refridgerator pickles last year and loved them), beets, green peppers, onions, beans, crook neck squash, and herbs. We don't seem to get enough of anything to can, but it is fun to go and pick and then eat it for dinner. We are also in CA (northern). I love the coment about the kids getting seeds in their easter baskets. I will do that this year.

Christine said...

My thumb is black... But I think I can turn it green if I focused on it- it is just too low on my priority list.

Mimi Nowland said...

You couldn't have picked a better topic for me to want to comment on! We are excited for our garden to grow! I love tomatoes, I think I might have some sort of difficiency because my love of them borders insanity! So we have planted 9 Roma tomatoes and 3 other types of tomatoes. I know we canned lots of stewed tomatoes last year, so this year we are going to try salsa, (I am a very picky salsa eater) ketchup, and BBQ sauce(in an effort to avoid corn syrup). But the truth is my husband has the green thumb, most of my efforts toward the garden are in harvesting and preserving.

The Red Hen said...

I'm so jealous, we can't plant until after Mother's day here in Utah! Well, some things might be OK, but since it snowed yesterday (AGAIN!!) I am a little hesitant.

I have tried to teach my older kids the principles of life that related to gardening and sometimes it was frusterating to get them out there to work. One day Mark asked me why I bothered - we didn't seem to get much from our garden and I told him that I was mostly raising kids not a garden. So just remember that when you are out there and it seems like it is not worth it.

Tami said...

Your garden looks amazing! Nice work. I am glad that you have had better gardening experiences recently. I used to be terrible with my outdoor garden too, but my garden here in WA last year turned out great. I guess that it helps to have sun! I can't believe how early in the year you are able to garden! I am so jealous.

An Ordinary Mom said...

You give me hope that one day our family will have a successful garden!

mindyluwho said...

I'm planting my first ever garden this year and am scared that I'm going to mess it up. I had hubby make some frames for me, but don't know what kind of soil to put in them. Can I call you?!