Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Every year, around mid-spring, just when I'm freakin' fed up with all the rain, I start planning my garden. Sure, I've got a few seeds that I started and subsequently neglected hanging out in pots. But most of my planting happens when I can actually stick my fingers into the dirt. There's something very magical about plunging your hands into sun-warmed, freshly tilled soil, and it's one of the things I look forward to most each year.

In previous years, I've had several small plots of veggies and a circle of herbs. Last year, I added a row for tomatoes and onions along the south wall of the sunroom - everything I planted there grew magnificently (I had tomato plants that were creeping into the rain gutters on the roof, eight feet above), so I'll be repeating that again. Also, this year, I'll actually be expanding the garden a bit.

I love that I can put some seeds in the ground, and just a few weeks later I've got my table laid out with the fruits (or veggies) of my labor. If you want to get down to it, planting and growing and harvesting your own food is the ultimate organic act. From food to table, mindful eating begins in the soil. Whether it's the soil in your own yard, or that farmer who's got a booth at the Saturday market, locavore eating doesn't get any more local than this.

People always ask me how I know what to plant. Well, it's pretty basic. Plant what you want to eat. Plant things you like. And most importantly, only plant what you can use. And by use, I mean eat it yourself, preserve it for later, or give it away. I used to plant green peppers every year, and every year, I'd end up with a bunch of the damn things rotting on the plant, because there was no way I could eat all of them -- and no one else in my house liked them. So now, I plant one or two green pepper bushes, and that's it. What I don't eat, I dry out and use later, or I blanch and freeze them for stews and soups. Likewise, tomatoes -- I *love* tomatoes, especially the sweet cherry tomatoes. I usually run with two cherry tomato plants and a pair of Romas, and that's about it. I can eat tomatoes every day for months, and still have a boatload left to make sauces and soups.

So, here are the things I know for sure I'm planting this year:
  • Onions - green and yellow
  • Tomatoes - cherry and Romas
  • Garlic
  • Spinach, kale and arugula
  • Carrots
  • Peppers
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Green beans
  • Squash - spaghetti, Delicata and acorn
  • Basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, and lavender
Now, if it ever stops raining, I might be able to till my back yard, get some plants in the ground, and get to planting. How about you? What are you planting this year?


  1. My kiddies and I begin on Ostara by planting a variety of seeds in starter pots which then sit [the poor little things] on top of my dryer. There they futilely attempt to bask in what little sun comes through the laundry room window until the bitter cold of Upstate NY decides to pack up and move on -- which means that as of this moment, the seedlings are STILL taking up space on my dryer top!

    When the milder weather decides to make its appearance, we'll take them out to the raised garden bed that sits in the far corner of our yard.

    Waiting for this seemingly ever-pending move from atop the shaking Whirpool Dryer are:
    Tomatoes - cherry and beefsteak
    Bell Peppers
    Butter Lettuce
    Cantelope Melon
    & an assortment of herbs

    I would love to grow garlic! Are there any tricks to it or is it fairly hardy?

    Happy Plantings!
    - Em

  2. Garlic is one of those things that I grow almost by accident. Last year I found some sprouting up in my compost bin, which was a nice treat. The best way to grow it is to toss some cloves in a pot of dirt in the fall, let them winter over outside, and then in spring they start sprouting and you end up with big fat bulbs. They're pretty low maintenance, and seem to thrive on neglect.