Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Keeping a Garden

I've helped with or have kept my own gardens since early childhood. Something about working with the soil, the living plants and then eating like a king has always resonated with me because of those experiences. A big thank you goes out to my mom & dad for exposing me to the activity. Those were good times!

Last year (2012) was the first good year using our original gardening plan when we moved in 11 years prior. Why didn't it work early on? We had too many trees. We got dozens of them cut down in 2011 & 2012, resulting in lots of sun. The tree removals, roof replacement and re-siding projects in those same years also collectively exposed and/or destroyed lawn, gardens and spaces with plenty of biomass and mess to deal with. Yay! 

Clearing and re-purposing those areas has allowed us to expand our gardens, both for eating and sensory enjoyment. We picked a few more areas to clean up recently and as of the time of this writing we weren't yet done with this years' enhancements. Margot was epic in loading and moving the topsoil, but don't expect her to be announcing a change in career to landscaping any time soon! Between the two of us we have spent about a work week out in the yard so far this year, but based on the way it looks it has definitely been worth it.

( This is the herb garden cleaned up, soil spread and ready to plant. May 26, 2013 )

Salad vegetables and herbs are the most important food plants for me to grow on my own property. I love fresh, raw tomatoes; they just scream summer to me! The kitchen herbs basil, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme are so easy to grow, smell fantastic and liven up all our summer meals. Estate grown hot peppers go into lots of summer dishes and in back to back years I expect a large harvest as well the creation of a new special fermented beverage to honor the crop. The sweet and spicy mead last year was really out of sight! This year we also decided to try potatoes, garlic, onions and leeks. Margot calls it our "hash brown" garden. Makes sense, so just go with it!

We kept the number of herb plants constant (I lied, we added orange mint but planted it elsewhere), but a couple perennials that didn't come back gave us better space to work with. We'll be eating basil already for dinner tonight. The sage wintered like a champ and we've already steeped some in lemonade for the house cooler for the summer season. Eating from the garden right out back is a true joy!

( Ready to plant vegetables. May 26, 2013 )

I also planted hops and strawberries from a friend in 2012. They did very well during the first season and this year are really off to a great start. I hope to get a small crop of each when their seasons come. 

( Hallertauer hops, year two. May 28, 2013)

We also decided to pluck out some small ornamental trees and replace the area with a rose garden. That is one of the plans that hasn't been completed yet, so I don't have photos to share!

And with that let's get to the rest of the photos. The captions will guide you along this year's projects.

( Getting the herbs planted is always fun! May 30, 2013 )

( The "infamous" hash brown garden. From the left, front to back. 
Potatoes, onions, garlic, leeks.  The hops are on the far right. May 31, 2013 )

( The tomatoes and peppers are really happy a few days after planting. June 5, 2013 )

( There is activity in the potato bed as of today. June 5, 2013 )

( The strawberries are going to be made into a drink. 
Cute idea to have a "cocktail garden". June 5, 2013 )

( After a few days of sun and water, the herbs are really happy! June 5, 2013 )

This year we also cleaned up the area where we removed our front hedges. Some fill and crushed stone made for a nice clean look. Margot found rustic planters to put annuals in along the front. Looks smashing!

( Front of the house. The grass seed is already down by now. May 30, 2013 )

( The back of our house is finally worth looking at! May 30, 2013 ) 

So that's where I have been lately, and with a few more projects and hours to go, it's where I will be for a few for weekends. 



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