Before the season starts I like to kind of lay out my gardening vision. I didn’t do that this year and honestly I got kind of a late start due to everything that’s been going on in my life.
First, last year wasn’t anything special. Around the time it was really go time to get things in, I found out my girlfriend was pregnant and we spent a lot of time getting the house in order for new family life. I didn’t get to spend the time with the garden that I would’ve liked to but that was ok, there were still some successes. I remember one point around the fourth of July thinking that I was going to get the time to give the garden the weeding that it needed and getting called back in the house twenty minutes later to help a guy installing a shower in my house. Ugh…
So anyways, maybe it is better I’m writing this at the precipice of the productive season and I have a little bit better idea of what’s going on…
My Jerusalem artichokes came back, as I expected…and then some. These things are going absolutely apeshit right now. My green onions look great and as far as perennial acting annuals, dill and borage came back…and lots of it. I pulled a lot of it early on, just so they don’t overwhelm me. Fennel is noticeably absent, which is ok. Two years ago during a really bad year about all I had was fennel and collard greens (both volunteers) and it felt like I ate it every day. I like fennel, but there’s only so much I can take. Maybe there is a plant or two mixed in with the dill and that would be ok. I’m planning on using the borage this year in tea. Apparently it’s good for nursing mothers and some of them in Mary’s “mommy” group have asked about it. The flowers taste kind of like cucumber, so it’s not too bad to drink.
So far I’ve harvested a lot of turnips and radishes. I have lettuce I’ve been using and a ton of pac choi. My arugula bolted really quick and for some reason I couldn’t get spinach to grow, which was really disappointing because it really isn’t rocket science to make that work. I’ve picked a few snow peas and snap peas already, should be more coming in very soon. There is kale and swiss chard that would be ready to pick in small quantities and the collards will get there soon. Some beets are close and I’ve picked a few carrots already.
As far as summer things go, I have about 10 tomato plants of various kinds, jalapenos, kung pao, Hungarian and banana peppers which all usually do well. I have some bell peppers, which are always kind of disappointing but some people around here hit the jackpot with them. Everyone loves bell peppers, I’d hate to not at least try them each year. Usually I wind up with a couple of bullshit peppers per plant. I have zucchini (grey and traditional dark skinned), cantaloupe, watermelon, Armenian cucumber, regular cucumber and yellow squash going. Oh, and a luffa gourd plant, which should be interesting. I have sunflowers (volunteers from last year and Rostok, the traditional Russian kind) and corn (red and traditional golden sweet corn). I have pole beans and some french bush beans going too.
I have some winter squash started. French pumpkins (these did really well last year), Boston marrow squash, Hubbard squash, butternut squash and acorn squash. I also have some sugar pumpkins. I have cushaw squash, which I’m really excited about. I had never seen one of these things until last October Mary and I went to Jamesport, MO, an Amish community and stopped at a greenhouse that had produce for sale. They had a ton of these and they’re HUGE! I can’t walk past something like that and not at least be curious. The lady there said they’re good for pies and they had a sign that said something along the lines of “old time variety, ask your grandma about them”. I didn’t have my ouija board handy, but I ended up buying one and just dicing it up and roasting it. I forgot exactly how to describe the flavor, but I remember saying “wow, this is a nice squash”. I want to say it had a creamier flavor to it than butternut or acorn. I hope I get some of these because they are a cool squash.
My perennials are doing great. I’ll probably get a few dozen apples between a few trees, a couple of cherries, one peach and one apricot. I’ll get a lot of dolgo crabapples too. I’ve got some grapes coming in as well. I think the most exciting thing for me in this regard is my kiwis are finally *really* producing. The female vine is covered in kiwis right now! I’m also looking like I’ll have a bumper raspberry crop too, I’ll probably have to make jam and/or freeze them. Strawberries have started trickling in, I’m not sure how well they’re going to do. No blueberries and a little bit of serviceberries will come in. I’ll get some currants, white and red, not sure exactly how much. My aronias are doing really well, I think there’s 3 or 4 plants covered in berries. That’ll be enough to get me through the year.
As far as perennial herbs, I have all the catnip I want and I’m working on getting mint and lemon balm all over the yard. I’ve also got a nice bee balm plant, which means I’ll make some good “Oswego tea” this year.
So far the actual maintenance of the gardens is going well. I’ve been keeping up on the weeding and mulched heavily. I took a day last week to completely comb through everything and pluck weeds. I think the garden is laid out pretty well this year, so that’ll help keep things in order. I also started marking seeds with popsicle sticks, which is a simple thing that has helped me a lot to keep tabs on how things are going. I used to do it all by memory, which was only so good. Now I know where to look and it’s helped me catch some problems with germination and not haphazardly throw stuff in spots that could overgrow/shade out other plants.
It’s looking like it’ll be a good year….