Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Bitch Started Gardening

Last year, my husband, daughter and I moved back to Massachusetts after a 10 year stint in dry and sunny California. We left just after getting our state tax return back (lucky us!) and made this humid and mostly cloudy part of the country our home. I couldn't wait to get a garden going. I finally got my act together this spring and we have a little garden doing its thing in our backyard.

Without the pesky ground squirrels, moles, and gophers that ate any attempt we made at a garden in California (except for some mighty tasty broccoli we grew in a half wine barrel), we have high hopes for a plentiful crop. I keep having these garden destruction nightmares (okay, maybe they're just bad dreams) in which something mercilessly destroys my garden. Once, it was something that cut my zucchini and squash plants off very neatly at the base with shears. Another dream involved the disappearance of my peppers through a hole in the ground. Every morning I go out to the garden, shaking in my flip flops, to see if the dreams have come true. We did quite well, until two days ago, when I discovered four perfectly cylindrical holes about 2 inches deep where my once happily growing sunflower plants were. The plants were cast to the side. Whoever it was was not interested in the plants. Were they just destroying them for fun? Were my dreams manifesting themselves in reality? A quick chat with my knowledgeable gardener-neighbor informed me that the holes were probably created by birds, looking for the seeds. Later that day when I went out to check for more destruction, I saw a robin flying away looking awfully guilty. The rest of my sunflower plants are still standing, so hopefully the robins realized that once a plant grows out of its seed, the seed is no longer so tasty. Also, even if it was a tasty seed, it seems like a lot of work for just one.

Gardening is an activity that you can do as a family, if you like your family enough to dig in the dirt with them. In our garden, I set the garden up and have been maintaining it, but my wonderful husband has been the main waterer. This is a good thing since I routinely either forget to water it in the first place, or forget to turn off the sprinkler. We had to set up a chicken wire fence to keep out the dog, who doesn't understand boundaries and to keep out the toddler who doesn't understand that plants need those leaves in order to grow. I thought I had some very, VERY hungry caterpillars on my cabbage leaves, but it was actually just the kiddo pulling the leaves apart.

Here's an inventory of what we've got growing in our garden this year.
  • A variety of pepper plants
  • Swiss chard (a fave around here)
  • Beets (in a variety of colors)
  • Carrots
  • Summer Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers (I'm growing these vertically in tomato cages. A good idea when space is limited.)
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Savoy Cabbage
  • Bush Beans
  • Potatoes (these are growing in another bed by themselves)
My pepper and squash flowers have been falling off and not producing fruit. This is most likely because they're not being pollinated. We went to the nursery yesterday and bought a bunch of different flowering perennials. I'm really hoping that the bees smell us out and decide to help. It would be a big disappointment if none of my flowering vegetable plants produce any fruit!

So far, we've used the sage to make Maria's favorite grilled cheese sandwiches. I made pesto with the basil for these yummy open-faced veggie sandwiches. Basil and parsley went into Eric's amazingly delicious gazpacho. We can't wait till the rest is ready to be devoured!

I plan on updating you, our faithful reader(s?), on the happenings in our garden. Until then, enjoy these shots of the current state of things. Comment below - What's in your garden? Any tips for attracting bees? Have you had any garden destruction dreams?

Potatoes growing alongside the garage.

Cukes growing vertically, flanked by zukes on the left and squash (squkes?) on the right.

Peppers in the back and chard up front.

Sage, parsley and thyme. Some marigolds for good measure.


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