Friday, June 17, 2011

Le Potager

So, this spring late, I began to fulfill one of my thousand dreams of living in the country and that is to have a vegetable garden. I've looked at books and Martha Stewart magazine articles for years describing and illustrating every form of kitchen garden, from the humble to the painstakingly plotted, and somewhere in between - but closer to the humble - I envisioned my kitchen garden. I guess mine is really fully sitting on on the humble line of the dial. It's grand in proportion, at least that's what everyone tells me, but I just can't get anything to flourish. Everything I have planted has germinated. Not every seed, but every type of seed anyway. I haven't planted rows and rows of peas or eggplant, only very small amounts of what we can consume. Although, I have a feeling three zucchini and three yellow squash plants may be be four plants too many. And it is the squash plants that are among the most thriving. I planted seeds, not plants, so my squash are behind those of the other resident gardener, Michael Richman.

You've met Michael in posts before. He and his wife Elise moved in three houses down from us two weeks before we moved to Soggy Bottom. Once we met, we became instant friends. They live more in the woods and on top of nothing but stone, so Michael proposed he'd pay for whatever was necessary if he could garden in my yard.  At first what sounded like a great idea to me eventually became difficult. It's all about real estate. I've waited years and years to have my own plot of land, and I find it difficult to share. Just like a certain seven year old I know.  But we've started.  I bought and built all the beds you see in the photos above and below, and the Richman's paid for the soil. Being grandiose and unable to share freely, I've given Michael only two of the six 4' x 8' raised beds, plus one corner of the two 4' x 4' rhubarb beds for his solitary rhubarb plant.

In the 4' x 8' beds will be the bulk of the garden. Then there's the two 4' x 4' rhubarb beds, and to the right of those you see two long, narrow beds. The nearest bed is for herbs, and the furthest is for tomatoes. In the tomato bed I have sixteen tomato plants and two cucumber plants. I am not going to stake the tomatoes; instead, I am going to weave a web of nylon cord on which to trellis the plants. I had better get busy weaving because the tomatoes are, so far, the plants that are thriving and they are going to be begging for something to climb on soon and very soon. 

These are chive that came with the house. They were growing in the midst of a thick mat of Siberian iris right next to the front porch. When the excavator was digging the trench for the foundation drain, I had him move the iris (and the chives) up to the swale he had cleared out at the top of the hill behind the house. When it came time to start planting around the house, I retrieved the iris and discovered the chives. They now are at home in their own herb bed.

I showed a colleague in the office the photos of my vegetable gardens and she confirmed my fear. The soil we bought for the raised beds is screaming for organic matter. The mesclun and arugula below was planted nearly a month ago. Since the soil, in short, SUCKS, it has taken them two or three weeks longer to get the to the pathetic size the are below than what they would have if the soil was full of good stuff.

Below is a carrot. I didn't plant rows and rows which required thinning out. I planted only what I needed. 

Here's one of two okra plants. This photo was taken about a week ago, and today my okra isn't much bigger. Aside from the soil, it's just been too cold and wet for a warm weather loving plant like okra to be happy.

My pole beans - Kentucy Wonders, just like what my Grandpa Foon planted - are some of the more successful plants in my garden. I have twenty-four of them. 

Below are two of three yellow squash I have. I planted four but only three germinated. Not sure if I'm going to plant the fourth.

My collards, below, are actually doing well. Just within the last couple of days they've really grown in size. I'll be taking more photos so you can see their progress.

Like I said, I think I've probably planted three too many zucchini, but at least they're thriving.

This is flat leave parsley below. I didn't plant this from seed. 

Below are may cauliflower, which are not too happy, my broccoli, which are a bit happier, and my brussels sprouts, which are very happy.

A couple I sing with in the choir at church gave me strawberry plants and rhubarb plants. While they don't look it below, the strawberry plants are actually doing well. They're sprouting new growth, so I know they're not dead.

I loaded composted cow manure onto my two beds of rhubarb and in a matter of a couple of days all the plants, even the one that look like it had died to the ground, have sprouted all new leaves. Yeah!

I have sixteen tomato plants. I chose Romas and San Marzanos, which make the best sauces. I also planted two cherry tomato plants. We love to roast the cherry tomatoes with a little garlic, olive oil, balsamic and salt and pepper and then toss that with pasta. MMmmmmm.

And from the herb garden, we have lemon thyme . . .

a variegated sage


dill ... from seed .. miniscule

and another variegated sage.

And while I'm at it, a few friends in my flower gardens: