It being nearly June, it’s high time I get going with a garden update, right? Maybe not, though. It’s funny how relative time is: I was feeling so panicked and “behind” in my planting this year, so sure that I was at least 3 weeks slower than last spring and yet… a little research shows that not only did I not do a garden update until early June last year, but I didn’t even plant anything (outdoors) until after the Victoria Day weekend!
Of course, I also had a good deal more seedlings to show for my efforts then. Having killed off my remaining cucumber seedlings during my week-long absence (sorry The Boy!), I now have exactly zero seedlings (of my own) to plant out.
Have I mentioned I’m kind of a black thumb? The cucumbers actually make me really sad though, because they were such promising-looking little proto-plants. Still. At this point, I can probably just plant them out and hope for the best (come on warm Fall!). It’s that or tell The Boy he needs to resign himself to a life of no homegrown cukes, and that just seems cruel.
My garden isn’t totally bleak, however. My herbs (I gave up on the individual seedlings and just sprayed them into pots) have been doing well, as have the two peppers from Maria (see? supporting charities pays off!):
From the top we have unruly cilantro (does it grow any other way, or is it just me?), some shy but promising parsley, a Thai basil plant, and jalapeno. I have some very slow-going basil in another pot, along with rosemary (which I cheated and bought because I couldn’t get mine to germinate) and my chives — those fantastic, tenacious, perennial chives! — are just starting to flower in their bed. (By the way, if you didn’t know, chive flowers? Delicious if you want a mellow oniony flavour.)
As a side-note, I feel bad that I’ve been neglecting my (alleged) herb bed so horrifically these past couple years. As there’s really nothing planted out there anymore (other than my enduring champion chives), I’m hoping to dig those up, really overhaul the whole bed, replant them and maybe move the parsley there to reseed itself for next year. For reasons I can’t entirely explain, I desperately want a permanent herb bed which, given that I live in Zone 4, isn’t entirely reasonable. (Proof? I killed my prize rosemary shrub 2 years ago by foolishly assuming that a Mediterranean perennial would still be a perennial out here. Ha.)
One of the things I lament the most in my own cooking is my lack of fresh herb use. The biggest factor for this is that I can’t be bothered buying store-bought ones because a) they’re expensive, and b) I am unlikely to actually use all of the portion before they wilt and wasting food makes me angry. So why not a potted indoor herb garden, you ask? I’ve tried that, and it basically boils down to the fact that I kill plants in pots. Period. I love plants, indoor and out, but I am terrible at keeping plants alive if they don’t have access to groundwater.
…did I just lose all gardening credibility there? I’m okay with that. It’s most likely fair.
Still, I keep telling myself that if I had a small herb garden — nothing crazy mind you — a garden that grows enough of herbs I actually use, that’s right outside my kitchen… maybe I would incorporate them more? I’d love to be able to give an answer either way, but sadly my persistant black thumb has put the kybosh on this experiment for 2 (and a half?) years in a row. Well, no more! This is the year I prepare my soil, the year I give my future herbs everything they could ever want in a growing medium! The next step, is limiting myself to a reasonable number of herbs. If I had to choose 5, they would be cilantro, parsley, rosemary (in a pot!), basil (any basil) and thyme. If I were allowed a few more, I’d pick lemon thyme, mint and tarragon. What about my beloved chives? Well they’re already doing awesome! Why would I mess with a good thing?
Anyway, enough herb chit-chat. Onto the garden.
I can’t honestly say how this year’s garden compares to last year‘s, because only about half the crops are the same. Still, here are some observations so far:
- We have carrots. Not just one or two survivor carrots that somehow managed to foil the local rodentia. I have a serious crop of carrots going in not one, but two whole square feet. I’m afraid to tell The Boy in case they get struck by lightning or vanish in the night. Carrots. This is a first for our garden in this house.
- We have radishes. And spinach. And bok choi (which I chose over last year’s choi sum). And lettuce (yes, I gave it its own square this year). It’s not that I didn’t plant these things last year (well, except the bok choi), but they were so relentlessly fed upon by insects that we never got a chance to eat any. This year, however… we might. Again, a little afraid to draw attention to them, lest I invite the wrath of the gods. (With that said, however, I am totally planning a dinner salad of baby spinach and mesclun mix for tomorrow night. Hurray!)
- Garlic. (No scapes yet, although I keep hoping!) I do have a hypothesis for the survival of my greens and roots this year, and it’s that I planted a whole mess of garlic (very late — it’s spring garlic) across the back squares of the bed (formerly known as “the bad bed”), and then all the smaller veggies in the front squares. I’ve often read of companion planting with garlic to ward away pests, but had kind of figured it was bunk. Given the results, I am very ready to reconsider. Next year, however, I would plant the garlic as living dividers for the squares, thus freeing up more crop space, and also maximizing exposure. After all, who can have too much garlic?
- Onions. These were more for a lark than anything else, but I had some onions that had started sprouting, and I had a trough. Thinking that onions are often labelled with the same pest-repellant properties as garlic, I put the trough next to my peas after the first massacre. Not sure if there’s correlation, but the second planting seems to have survived.
- Peas. This is an area where my garden is doing significantly less well than last year. Knowing that peas are a cold weather crop, I hied myself out and planted some back in April. They sprouted, only to be viciously torn from the ground, presumably by hungry rodents who normally would have been feasting on radishes and spinach, but were driven away from those crops by my garlic. See above idea for living dividers. The second planting are now about 5 inches tall, and should hopefully survive. There’s a bit of an empty spot in the back quarter of their space, however, so I’ll be filling that in when I replant my beans.
- Beans. Pretty much the same story as the peas, except that I didn’t do my first planting until the second pea planting (as beans aren’t quite as cold-tolerant). I have pictures of the horrible beany desecration, but I’m trying to keep it family-friendly here. Sniff, my poor legumes.