It's that time here, in Zone 4, where gardeners' green thumbs start to twitch. Better people than myself have their early spring plants in - onions, parsley, peas, radishes, greens. Good for them. I was on the beach.
But it's time!
Here's our vegetable garden space:
It's approximately 15' x 14' which seems to suit our gardening desires and needs. I'm not a canner, but I do freeze some things, make refrigerator pickles, http://sassyfamily8.blogspot.com/2011/06/refrigerator-pickles.html , and give a few things away to my parents and neighbors.
The lattice on the deck stairs makes the best thing for growing cucumbers, pole beans and ornamental gourds. Pole beans are the bomb! Long after my summer bush beans are done, I'm picking long, lovely green beans well into October.
Those brick pathways you see? Leftover from the brick patio that was here when we moved in 5 years ago. I was sort of moaning about no garden space, and one day I was also moaning about that brick patio (south facing) being too hot for anyone to enjoy, and the two brain cells left in my head collided and I said "GARDEN SPACE."
Having an epiphany in your 40s is a thing of beauty, let me tell you.
So Eric ripped up most of the bricks, leaving some for walking on. He's so clever!
The soil was horrid! Lots and lots of clay. Which we're used to in this part of the world, but it was a bummer to remedy. We added a bunch of manure, compost (purchased), peat moss, and some sand. The first year produced a small crop of veggies and an even smaller crop of weeds. If your soil doesn't grow weeds very well, you're in trouble.
Next weekend, I'll put in radishes, greens (mixed salad plus a ton of arugula), onion sets, and scallions. In a few weeks, we'll finish with summer squash, tomatoes, bush beans, pole beans, cucumbers, chile peppers, jalapeno peppers, and carrots. I'd say about 50% of that space will be tomatoes. We plant them 1 foot apart and let them sprawl - no cages, no tying, nada. Ever since we employed that method, we've had abundant and delicious tomatoes. More about that later.
The very next thing we did that first summer was build a compost bin. I say "we" loosely, because I have under-gardeners for such tasks. Here's our compost bin <----------------
Built for free from branches of trees we cut out of our woods. Did I mention how clever Eric is? Seriously.
In that lovely structure we dump egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit and veggie scraps, leaves, grass (no chemical spray, please!), evergreen boughs from Christmas decor, end-of-the-year garden plants.
Every so often, a tomato plant or cucumber vine grows in there all by itself. That's fun!
In the fall, the compost gets turned and a layer of beautiful live mush gets added to the garden soil, dug in, and then covered with a layer of straw (left from our straw bale fall decorations!).
Here's my herb garden, which in truth is my favorite thing. On the other side of the fence is my perennial flower garden, and in the way back is our fire pit, created with leftover bricks and sawed logs for stools and benches:
I have oregano, lemon balm, sage, thyme, chives, and garlic chives that come back every year. I'll add 6 plants of basil, one of rosemary, three of flat leaf parsley, and in the pot I'll plant mint. I love walking out my front door, taking a few steps, and cutting fresh herbs for cooking. Sally, age 7, has learned to pick chives for her eggs or quesadillas that she loves. She's so darn cute.
So there you have it - the Sassy Garden. Stay tuned for planting updates, tips, successes, failures, and recipes. Happy gardening!