My Garden: a Work in Progress

gardeningLike many, I grew up reading the Little House on the Prairie series and it made a real impression on me. I still find it astounding that in our county’s infancy, under the homestead act, you could just go and build a house somewhere and that land became yours. The notion of self sufficiency, living off the land and growing your own food has always enchanted me. After years of living in apartments, I have finally moved into a place with some dirt of my own. One of my goals is to grow a significant portion of the produce my family needs and to do it consistently. I hope to share what I learn along the way so that we can all lead more self sufficient lives, free from chemical pesticides and mad scientist genetic engineering.

Garden BeforeSo without further ado, here it is, my garden this year. Let’s call this the “before” picture. I have kale left over from last year (score!) and some thyme. Oh! and weeds! yay! I’ll deal with them soon, I promise. My major accomplishment so far: I’ve torn out a bunch of mint. Don’t get me wrong, I love mint but it is super invasive. Seriously, this plant does not mess around. My dad warned me about this some time ago and like everything he tells me, I had to experience it for myself before just taking his word for it. This time however, I wasn’t the one who planted it. The mint came with the garden. When we moved in just about exactly two years ago the garden consisted of mint. period. I ripped out a bunch of it to make room for all the vegetables I wanted to plant. Fortunately it hasn’t strangled out anything yet, but I can’t get rid of it. Every time I pull weeds there are new little mint sprouts, super far away from the mother ship. I pull them out along with their roots leading back to from whence they came. Devil plants! (sort of) but boy, do they smell good when you yank them out. Heed my warning: only plant mint in containers!

Beds being prepped for asparagus etc.

Chris and I moved to Portland two years ago to a place with the first thing we could call a “real” garden since moving in together. The first spring we were here I bought some asparagus to plant. Asparagus is another one of those “where has this been all my life?!” vegetables. After reading about growing asparagus on Pinterest I learned that it takes a whole year to establish itself so you can’t harvest it until the second year. Two years ago I didn’t know whether or not we’d be living in the same house in a year so I didn’t plant it. (the “crowns” I bought died by the time I tried to plant them the next year) Two years later, it looks like we’ll be her for a while. We seriously lucked out on this house. The location is incredible.

asparagus startsI bought asparagus starts again this year and have one of my beds all ready for them. Stay tuned (as in a year from now) to see how they turn out. Seriously, can you stand the suspense?

This year I also plan to plant snow peas, which did well for me last year, and brussels sprouts (another of my new-found favorites.)  I love being able to wander out my back door and grab a handful of herbs or veggies to go in whatever dish I am cooking. I’d really like to grow a substantial ammount of all the produce we eat. A double whammy carbon reduction if I eliminate having ship food from who-knows-where and having to drive to the store.

I am also going to plant a dye garden. There are so many beautiful colors you can get from plants and I’m hoping to get as much mileage as possible out of the limited space I have in my yard.

[Just checked the seeds I still have left over from last year, there are more than I thought. I’ll let you know how it goes]

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