Five years ago (who can believe it?!) I bought an adorable old farmhouse with a white picket fence. I bought it in August when the garden was in full bloom. It looked easy enough, right? Just a little wedding here, some watering there. Oh boy, was I wrong! As soon as the house was mine, I was convinced I would ruin everything, especially the amazing dahlias out front.
I'm happy to report, they're all alive...
...and growing so well!
The trees in the parking strip are growing vigorously, shading the row of dahlia plants along the fence. I fertilized them this year and it's been a really wet, cool summer, so they're doing ok, but not blooming as much as the ones in the sun. I may have to replace a few of them but I can't bring myself to do it.
I just love the way they look in vases around the house.
Last fall I decided to plant garlic to overwinter. I wasn't really very excited about it because garlic is cheap in the store, it all tastes the same (I thought), and I don't use all that much of it. But I have a fond memory of braiding freshly-harvested garlic stalks with my friend Nancy at her beautiful Chicago home one summer, so I thought I'd give it a try. I bought a head of hardneck and a head of softneck from the Ballard Farmer's Market, broke up the cloves, and planted them in mid-October.
I was extremely excited when they sprouted, all in their perfect 4" rows, within a few weeks and grew a few inches before the winter really hit. There they stayed, a few inches high, for about four months.
In April they started growing taller. I got excited: garlic, soon! Alas, I read the internet and realized it would still be a few moons before the harvest.
But in June, the scapes arrived to distract me! These flower stalks grow out of the hardneck varieties and are edible themselves. In fact, many gardeners believe cutting the scape results in larger, more flavorful heads. The scapes have a mild garlic flavor themselves and can be made into pesto.
So when life gives you scapes (and a lemon, some pinenuts, and parmesan cheese), make pesto!
I also had some shelling peas in the garden by this time, so I harvested them and made delicious Pea Pesto Pasta. I was so pleased!
Notes for next year:
--Grow more garlic
--Plant them closer together to save on watering
--Plant two heads of hardneck for more scapes and to give some away, one head of softneck for storage.
Oh how I've missed you! I've thought a lot about you these past two years. I thought about you last year when I wondered how my lettuce yield compared to the year before. I thought about you in the fall when I waited interminably for my chard to sprout, wondering whether the slow start was typical. I started you to share with friends and keep track of my gardening lessons, but I couldn't keep up with you. I couldn't keep up with you because uploading pictures was a pain the ass.
In the olden days, I had to plug my camera in to the computer to upload photos. Before doing that, because I have an old camera, I had to plug the camera into the wall. Then I had to upload the photo to my computer, and THEN to my picasa album! Then finally to the blogger, where I painstakingly arranged it in the middle of the text window, only for it to move from being centered to left justified when I hit return. So annoying! But with the advent of (golly gee!) smartphones, I can now upload photos directly to my blog. I hope this changes things.
You can see that in the intervening years, I've managed to keep my garden alive. Some things - like the dogwood - are even thriving! I'm rotating my crops, attracting bees with annual flowers, and creating an aura of relaxation even if the garden is rarely that. I enjoy the view, though, many times each day.
But maybe I'll start again. Blogger is advertising all kids of new features at me so maybe it will be easier to upload photos, my big limiter from over a year ago. After all, if you ever visited regularly, you probably only came for the photos. Well, come back in a couple of weeks. You should SEE what is happening in the bed for Tom! The asparagus is going nuts! It's amazing!
This lady has been charged with a misdemeanor because she planted raised beds in her front yard. Not even on the parking strip, mind you, in her yard! I guess feeding your family the hyperlocal way is a crime in Michigan. This is extra funny given all the hoopla about urban farming in Detroit which, by the way, warms my heart. I'm sure this case will be dropped, but even if it is, she seems to be a budding gardener as well, learning her way through veggies as I am. Good luck, OakParkHatesVeggies!
There was one blank space in my garden along the fence line just behind (but not obstructed by) the new deck. It was begging for another bed to match it's next-door neighbor, and I figured after deck building that I had the skills to make it happen. My bathroom contractor left a chop saw in my garage while he was working, so I decided to have at it - all by myself.
I diligently measured the bed boards already in the garden and determined my lumber needs. I then randomly poked around the garage and found I already had all the materials. (Main board courtesy of my previous owners.) I went to it.
Tom Wilson, Shelby's dad, is the one who helped me build the deck and taught me what I know about working with wood. Tom had two favorite things, as far as I could tell: his Sawzall and "cutting a notch out of it." So when I got to the point of installing a side board but almost running into the fencepost, I employed the second of this favorite things.
I measured, I cut, I drilled, and by golly I got the thing in! It only took about 2 hours, and probably would have taken a skilled person about 25 mins, but I did it...
I had a few issues with screws, probably on account of my small "girly" drill, so I'm guessing Professor Tom would give me about a B in his class. Now, if I could get my hands on a Sawzall to take off those tops...
It's all ready to plant my perennial asparagus bed, which I did a few weekends later (last weekend). Check back in 2 years to see how it tastes!