After not writing a garden update for a good six months, I’m finding myself publishing them two months in a row. Clearly, it’s spring, and there’s a lot more going on in the garden. After four summers of minimal time spent in the garden, it feels really good to give it some real attention this year.
Thanks to the work we put into the yard in years past, we still have had quite a bit of food grow well, but the garden has been short of neglected. This year, I’m spending a lot more time in the yard and even considering combating the lawn and replacing it with a ground cover some day. There was a short time where my yard seemed big enough, but now I’m back to dreams of space that would allow us to have a true homestead and squeezing what I can out of the quarter acre we do own.
It’s still early in the season, but we are starting to see some real amount of produce ready to harvest in the garden now. Of course, we still have a ton of spring garlic growing and we never seem to make a dent no matter how much I give away to friends and neighbors as well as use it in our own cooking. The good news is there is no such thing as too much garlic.
Beyond garlic though, the rhubarb has taken off to the point that while it’s been harvested twice, you can’t tell because it’s grown back quickly. We’ve also been snacking on asparagus as it comes up, and it’s my favorite thing to share with people who are new to garden fresh produce. If you’ve never had asparagus straight from the garden – raw – then you’ve never really had asparagus. It’s tender and delicious and doesn’t even need to be cooked.
Beyond that, the lettuce that I planted (okay, it volunteered) last fall and then turned brown pretty quickly in the colder weather has come back with a vengeance once the snow melted and the weather warmed up. I grow leaf lettuce (particularly Black Seeded Simpson) because unlike head lettuce you can just tear off as many leaves as you need without pulling up the whole plant, and then it will grow more leaves back. We rarely need enough lettuce for a whole head of it at one time, so this way we eliminate that food waste as well.
I also planted celery this last fall and it’s now large enough that I’m picking a few stalks here and there to add from meals. I’d previously attempted to grow celery and I think I planted it too late into the spring. Between that and not watering it enough (it’s a really thirsty plant), it turned out woody and not very edible. This year, I’ve learned and it’s much better.
If you follow me on Instagram, I’ve been sharing quite a bit of my garden in most posts as well is in my stories because I’m out there almost every day right now. So if you want to see more or less live updates as far as what’s growing and what we’re eating, that’s the place to be.
As I mentioned previously, my husband and son helped me build two new 8′ x 4′ raised beds to expand my garden. It’s been a while since we’ve done a real expansion, so it was a really exciting thing to have new space to grow for future years. Thanks to the hugelkultur method of setting up the beds, I shouldn’t have to do much amending of the soil for many years to come. As much as I enjoy working in the garden, I really enjoy not having to spend the time to keep things mostly in order.
Before these two beds, the only additions to the garden since I got pregnant with my son over five years ago were the tiered strawberry planter and the small bed specifically built for him that’s been filled with wildflowers since its construction. While I had big plans for a large garden, having a small child at home meant that the garden has gotten minimal attention (but with outsized results). These two new large beds mean I’ll just have that much more room to grow different crops and an easier ability to rotate from year to year.
Planted This Month
With the new space in the raised beds, I said yes to the kiddo asking to grow corn this year. I’ve never done it in the past, but with an extra warm spring I’m hopeful they might do well. I picked a specific variety that was developed in Oregon for our short season, and at worst, the corn stalks will be great decoration for the fall. Alongside the corn, we planted Butterkin squash (courtesy of Budget Epicurean) and bush beans from saved seed.
The other new raised bed was planted with tomatoes, carrots, marigolds, peppers, and green onions. I purchased a few tomato plants and then my neighbor gave me a half dozen starts that had volunteered in his yard this spring. I also planted a few from seed which may be too late in the year, but I’ll just have to see.
Outside of those two beds, I also planted some eggplant, more tomatoes, and some sugar snap peas. Again, I may have been a bit (okay very) late to plant the sugar snap peas, but I’m hopeful I may get a short harvest or at least some tasty pea shoots to sauté with the spring garlic.
So… cost. Until this month, I’d spent just $36.61 for the year, and all of $169.64 in 2018. With the new raised beds though, that number has been completely blown out of the water. Like I’ve mentioned in the past, gardening can be very inexpensive in the long term once you’ve set yourself up, but the set up isn’t so cheap.
The scraps from the yard that build up the base of the hugelkultur style beds mean that a good portion of the new space was first filled with old rotting wood and other leftover materials, but the amount of compost and soil needed still added up to a significant total, as did the wood required to make the beds. My husband also screws in metal corner brackets to hold the beds together so they will last for a very long time, but there’s a cost for that longevity.
Thanks to past seed saving, I didn’t buy a ton of plants or seed packets this year, but I did buy a few, namely some tomato and pepper plants. I mean to start more of these from seed in the future, but I first need to find space to grow them as they will need to be started indoors.
Garden Cost, 2018: $169.64