Garden 2014: Planting Despite Uncertainty
(The garden, looking it's best two years ago.)
I had no idea if we were going to get a garden planted this year. I wasn't convinced that planting a garden would even be a good idea. After all, with Baby V coming in the middle of June, was I going to have the motivation, time, and energy to take care of it? On one hand, maybe Baby V would love spending time in the back yard over the summer and give me lots of opportunity weed and water while laying out on a blanket in the shade, or snuggling close against me in a baby carrier. On the other hand, maybe not.
But, yesterday, on the holiday Monday, it was just so beautiful, I couldn't resist. A couple weeks ago, the Husband had borrowed a neighbour's rotor tiller and prepped the soil. It was so soft, dark, and rich as Toronto soil is. I found a mitt full of leftover seeds from previous years in the garage and went to work.
I dialed my gardening hopes and dreams back significantly this year, however. I planted only 3 beds, with plans for a fourth, giving things lots of space to grow.
Pole beans: We had excellent success with these last year. I still need to install a trellis in order to give them something to climb, and I need to remember to pick pick pick as they come ripe this year so they don't over-ripen and toughen. But, I have a good feeling that they'll grow just fine.
Lettuces: Two different kinds - a head lettuce and a leaf lettuce. I planted them in the shadow of the pole beans, hoping the shade will be significant enough to slow their tendency to bolt. We've never had good luck with lettuce plants, largely because the sun makes them bitter, and our neglect means they don't grow nice and thick, like lettuce is supposed to be.
Spinach: See notes for lettuce. We've had the same problem with spinach. But, if I've got the seeds, I might as well try again, right? Third time's the charm!
Snap peas: I grew these last year for the first time and the few that the plants produced were delicious. However, I didn't get a proper trellis up in time last year, so I think they choked themselves out, as well as being overcome by a viney weed that popped up last year. Perhaps with a little less neglect, they'll thrive at least a little.
Tomatoes: Over the past three years of gardening, I have learned something very important: I don't like tomatoes. More often than not, my tomatoes rot on the vine, victims of my own disinterest. However, I don't want to give up on them entirely. I do, after all, like eating cherry tomatoes right from the vine. So, we're going to do just a couple plants - a huge difference from the 16 I grew the first year of the garden - a cherry tomato and a roma tomato maybe, something good for salads and hamburgers.
Onions: Onions are perennials. We've already get a ton of a Spanish onions - which, I'll be honest, probably won't get eaten before they go to seed - and the bulb onions we planted lasted year are doing well. I'm always nervous about harvesting perennials like the bulb onions though, because I want the patch to get well established so it is self-sustaining. When will I harvest? Maybe never. I probably need to do a little more research into onions.
Parsnips: I tried parsnips for the first time last year. They failed miserably. The bed I put them in wasn't particularly well-established, and, being completely inexperienced with parsnips, I had no idea what the seedlings looked like. I tried to weed, but in the end, I'm fairly certain I just managed to weed out all the parsnips. This year, I put them in my old tomato bed, which has been well under control in the past, so I'm hoping they'll have a bit of a better chance.
Carrots: Carrots were my first gardening success. The first year we planted them, the summer we moved in, we just threw a couple rows of carrots into what was pretty much the middle of our very very rough back lawn. They grew, well and plentiful. When we moved the garden to its current location, they got relegated to the back of the garden. There was not enough sun and too many little white spiders feasting on the little orange roots that did grow. This year, we're bringing them back to front and centre, the sunniest part of the garden. I have high hopes - I love carrots.
Peppers: Yup, a full bed, devoted to peppers. Granted, not many. I've had great luck with jalapenos and, since I love them rather a lot, I want at least a few plants. And, I figured if I'm planting some hot peppers, I might as well give some bell peppers another go. We've never had good luck with bell peppers either. One year, I mistakenly planted baby bell peppers and spent the whole summer confused as to why they seemed to grow beautifully, but tiny, and then rot off the plant without getting to what I saw as any kind of edible size.
And that's it! I guess it's still quite a bit and I fully acknowledge the possibility that everything will get choked out by weeds or dried up from a lack of water by the end of July. Or, maybe this year we'll have the best garden ever. Our summer and fall are so full of unknowns and new experiences, but it seemed a shame to let planting season pass by assuming I'd be unable to keep up with it all.
Check out our garden plans from previous years: