August 23, 2012
As a freshly plowed pile of rocks and dirt, the garden looked way too big. We didn’t think that there was any way we’d be able to fill up the whole thing, at least not this year. But just a few months later, we’re bursting at the seams; and we already have plans of expanding next spring.
Let us take you on a photo tour of the garden.
Here is how it looked on June 28:
On July 1:
We used the rocks that we picked out of the soil to create an enchanted walkway. Here is Enchantment on July 1:
Enchantment this evening:
An Enchanted entrance, July 1:
Castor beans add so much drama, don’t they?
Tending to the garden this summer has been a great learning experience for me. There was a garden in our backyard when I was a child, but I wasn’t very interested in it at the time. But because of my abundant “free time” (read: unemployment) this summer, I have been responsible for much of the planting, weeding, and watering; and thanks to Bailey’s horticultural expertise, I’ve had an excellent guide.
We had a lot of fun looking through seed catalogs last winter and designing the garden. Unfortunately, many of the seeds that we started inside this spring either didn’t get any larger than sprouts or they blew off of the ledge of our little deck. But we made do.
Currently in the garden, we have kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, onions, leeks, shallots, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, pickling cucumbers, bush and pole beans, peppers (bell, habanero, jalapeno, Hungarian wax, some long skinny ones), zucchini, melons, squash, pumpkin, accidental artichokes, and herbs.
In our herb patch, you’ll find parsley, sage, oregano, basil, purple basil, Thai basil, thyme, rosemary, and cilantro (as well as some pink petunias and elephant ear for good measure). The mints and lemon verbena are on our porch.
All of the beautiful barky wood pieces dividing our beds were salvaged from various scrap piles and fire pits around the farm. We used some other wood scraps to fashion some teepees for the pole beans.
We have five or six varieties of pumpkin all coming along nicely. The plan is to spend the fall and winter making as many Pumpkins Stuffed With Everything Good as possible. We only made two last year, and it wasn’t nearly enough.
Do yourself a favor and make one. Prepare a pumpkin as you would for a jack-o-lantern. Then, in a big bowl, combine cubes of bread, cheese, nuts, sausage and/or bacon, apples, garlic, caramelized onion, dried cherries or raisins, herbs, nutmeg, and anything else that’s wonderful. Stuff the pumpkin with this mixture, then pour cream in there. Return the pumpkin’s lid and bake the whole thing at 350F for about 2 hours, or until the pumpkin is as tender as a baked potato. Remove the pumpkin cap and broil for a couple minutes to crisp the top layer of good things. Be careful, it’ll be hot and juicy. Enjoy.
Bailey had the brilliant idea of planting all of the pumpkin, squash, and melons along the perimeter of the garden so that they could vine down the hill (sorry for the terrible photo).
One day last week, while on our morning walk through the enchanted garden, we noticed that something had come through the cabbage patch and taken a bite out of each head. That was all the incentive Bailey needed to make some delicious spicy sesame peanut slaw.
As our 80 tomato plants continue to provide beautiful fruit, we plan to can as much as possible so that we are able to enjoy eating from the garden all winter long. The freezer is already full of pesto and enough zucchini bread to last a lifetime (recipe to come).
The pickle-making process is well underway.
And about 150 ears of beautiful sweet corn are ready to be prepped for the freezer (or bellies).
Considering that the whole thing was just grass a few months ago, we weren’t expecting the soil to produce an abundant harvest this year. But it has been better than expected. Plus, the only fertilizers we are using are manure and compost, and that’s something that we feel good about.
It is a bit of work, but the rewards are plentiful.