Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New season, new efforts

At first I just wrote finally finally finally, but with all the fuss I make about not having a kid, I thought that would send the wrong impression for what this post is.  THIS IS A GARDENING POST!  While we had to leave our community garden behind in Richmond and we're renting instead of living on land we own, Patrick and I aren't letting that get in the way of our food-growing efforts.  We're just doing it container-garden style instead.  So far we have Brussels sprouts, Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, two different lettuces, cucumbers, snow peas, chard, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, peppers, lavender, thyme, basil, mint, savory, and oregano.

What we learned from last year's raised bed: 

1.  Corn is not really worth the effort unless you're growing a LOT of it, since otherwise you end up putting in a ton of effort for, say, four stalks, which basically amounts to one dinner, if they all survive the summer (which ours did not).  Doing so in a container garden also seemed like a lot more effort than it's probably worth.  Skipping corn this year entirely.

Chard roots

2.  Go with smaller tomatoes unless you have plans to eat or give away SO MANY huge tomatoes.  Also, the smaller tomatoes I grow always inevitably are less attacked by insects, and taste better to me.  So this year, no big boys or mortgage lifters or anything big and juicy-looking.  

3.  Give the climbing beans room!  We ended up with MASSIVE climbing beans that kept running out of room in our single raised bed.  

4.  Every time we try to grow from seed, we fail miserably (infertility joke?  If nothing we are consistent in our shortcomings!).  We'll get bright little shoots, and then we'll open a door too long or something, and they all die.  Or, they'll die in the transition out from the nest, making us bad seedling parents who couldn't raise their young ones to survive on their own.  We bypassed seeds entirely this year and are feeling like more successful growers already.

Because I'm a librarian, I can't help but link to some resources we've found particularly great:


  1. Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew is also a great resource. I'm jealous that you have plants outside already (spring refuses to spring here in NE)! But I do plan to get some containers of veggies going on our tiny balcony this year. Probably something really modest, like peppers and Roma tomatoes, maybe some lettuce or chard. I had big intentions last year, but after planting in borrowed space at my friend's garden, I forgot to look after my plant babies at all- and the drought was none too kind. My lesson, I think, is to be patient with myself and start small. That's pretty much my lesson in every endeavor!

    1. Ooo yes, I've taken a peek at that one at the library. I'm kind of glad to have the plants so close on the patio this year -- I loved the community aspect of the community garden, but it was a few blocks away and during the worst of the summer I ended up walking there 2+ times a day to water things. I am, apparently, REALLY lazy. :P

  2. Oh how exciting. I am very proud of you guys. I have been thinking of growing our own herbs (basil, thyme, rosemary...) and maybe baby tomatoes in our balcony (gardens are such a luxury over here, there is so little land, most of which was stolen from the water) but I KILL PLANTS.
    That's why I love cut-flowers, they are already dead. I can not do anything to them, or, if they wilt, it will not be my fault.
    Mark is the plant-keeper of the household and he is quite good, I have to recognize. If it were for me... they'd all be dead. But I did manage to grow a Ficus bonsai and a Cyclamen pot of flowers. So maybe I could try..

    1. Oh gosh I can grow veggies but give me an indoor plant and I FAIL. Houseplants are so, so not my thing. Keep trying though!

      (Oh gosh I'm a sucker for cut flowers. Give me a bushel of tulips and I'm a happy happy lady.)