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.

Currently Harvesting

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.

Garden Expansion

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.

Cost

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, January: $0.00

Garden Cost, February: $36.61

Garden Cost, March: $0.00

Garden Cost, April: $0.00

Garden Cost, May: $434.39

Garden Cost, YTD: $471

Garden Cost, 2018: $169.64

Looking at that total cost for the month of May as well as the year to date total, I have to remind myself that this was an investment in the future of the garden that will pay dividends in the years to come. While I’ve really enjoyed spending almost nothing in the last few years, I’ve been wanting to expand the garden for a while and I’m glad to have the extra space to grow more plants.

Perhaps I should keep some loose track of the food I harvest through the garden a la One Hundred Dollars A Month in years past to get a better sense of my return on investment, but our berry bushes alone produce us a ton of fruit each summer. Considering one pint of organic berries can easily cost $4-$6 at the store, an investment in the garden can pay back pretty quickly, and we eat more fresh fruits and vegetables than when we have to buy them, so it’s a positive investment in our health as well.

Growing your own food makes it possible to live zero waste in at least one part of your life, and environmentally it’s vastly superior to eat food with an eye to miles traveled, and nothing is more local than right in your front yard.

Is there anything you’d like me to add in these garden updates? What’s in season for you right now?

39 thoughts on “Spring Garden Update: May 2019

    1. It feels like a crazy high cost though after the past few years! But it really isn’t in the big picture.

  1. That’s awesome! It looks like you yield quite a bit! We moved into a house with a half acre (in the Pacific Northwest) and it’s ENTIRELY grass… there weren’t even trees when we moved in! This year we decided to build our beds and have just put in two 4’x8′ beds and two smaller beds (built entirely with scrap wood). The bigger beds definitely weren’t cheap, but hopefully they last a long time! We realize that by planting some things this week, we’re coming in late to the game for this year. Hopefully it’ll pay off at least a little, and then we can continue to increase the production and value of the garden for years to come. Cheers!

    1. All grass is kinda nice because you are working with a blank slate 🙂 Quarter acre in the PNW here, so jealous of that double the size!

  2. Lol I saw the headline and I literally went like “OOH- hmm I’m a little too oddly obsessed with this woman’s garden” ROFL!!

    1. Well, perhaps you should come see it someday. Garlic scape season soon 😉

  3. All we have harvested so far is spinach (twice), but we’ve got mulberries ripening soon, tons of blueberries shortly thereafter, carrots, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes…lots of stuff. I just put in a honey crisp apple tree that I am hopeful will pay us back over time. I love this season!

  4. I don’t have a green thumb, so I don’t garden here despite all of the Arizona sun. Though the high summer temperatures might bake the plants to a crisp anyway for all I know. So it’s always impressive to me to read about other people’s successes.

    This post made me miss my old Seattle house, which had raspberries growing out back that were just delicious right off the plant. I was never a big of raspberries from the store, but the fresh ones that I knew were ripe were a revelation!

    1. It’s amazing just how different fruits and vegetables can taste when they’re homegrown. One of the most unfortunate things I think about from time to time is how we got suckered into believing being able to get any food at any time of the year is more important than what said food actually tastes like.

    1. That’s where the whole garden is! And half our street now has some amount of edible garden in their front yard – just one other had a couple plants when we moved in eight years ago 🙂

  5. I love fresh garden produce! Maybe after we get moved again, we’ll be able to start growing some things. My husband is pretty excited to try growing garlic, and neither of us has ever really gardened at all, so it’ll be a long learning process! Thanks for sharing your process and progress!

    1. It is a learning process to be sure, but stick with it and it will come easier with time! When you get there, please do let me know if I can help answer any questions 🙂

  6. It’s funny reading posts like this – I’m putting my garden beds to bed for winter – fertilising them and loading them up with pea straw to lie fallow – while you’re going nuts with planting.
    Makes yoy realise tat we really DO live on a globe!!

  7. Your garden is looking great. Expanding the garden can be expensive, but it will pay for itself in the long run. We added several new raised beds a few years ago and it was a bit pricey but it’s an investment and they have likely nearly paid for themselves by now – especially given how expensive produce is where I live. I can’t wait to plant my garden. I’ve only got a few more weeks until it’s planting time and then I’m going to put every seed I have into my garden.

    1. I still have such a hard time wrapping my brain around how late you have to start your garden. Can’t wait for you to get out there again!

  8. Ok, so I just learned a new term – hugelkultur. Thank you! I think I’m going to keep my eyes out for some tree cuttings in the neighborhood. Our garden is mostly dormant right now with the soil resting but we have a volunteer massive squash plant in the front as well as a volunteer ginormous cherry tomato in the back along with the celery that has taken forever to grow. I harvested some this am – the stalks just haven’t seemed to grow that much. Out of curiosity, how deep do you make your boxes? We want to build a couple more in the front to get some more gardening space. We would like some more in the back too but the kiddo still uses her trampoline all the time and it takes up a good portion of the space in our postage stamp sized yard. It’s funny because every time I think about getting rid of it (and I don’t even say it out loud), she jumps on it non-stop and tells me how much she loves it. So, I think I’ll wait a little bit longer before I start making plans in my head about how many more garden boxes I want in the back.

    1. We make them four feet deep (two 2×4 boards). And celery likes cooler weather and a LOT of water – though it sounds like you’ve been getting the lots of water part anyway!), plus lots of fertilizer.

  9. Your garden is so amazing! I’m pretty proud of myself that I’ve managed to only kill our spinach. The bell peppers and tomatoes are doing rather well. So it the mint. The herbs, however, might be dying. But we’ve been able to use them, and I haven’t had to buy any fresh basil in a while (something we were spending quite a bit on….). So I’m really enjoying it. 🙂

    1. Make sure you contain that mint – it will completely take over if you aren’t careful! And it may have gotten too warm for your spinach.

      1. We planted the spinach in March… it died a WHILE ago, but I *think* we got in the ground in time. Haha. We’re going to try again with different soil come the cooler weather. Fingers crossed it goes better the second time around. If not, at least I’m trying, haha.

        And YUP, the mint is in its own planter, and we’re watching it carefully. Thankfully, I’ve grown mint before, so I know how crazy it can be, haha.

      2. Have you found a local garden blogger who writes about your area? If not, I’d start reading!

  10. Picking off leaves of lettuce as you need them and then watching them grow back sounds pretty divine, friend. It’s been years since I’ve gardened but we kick around the idea.

    Those beds look sweet, too! Sure it’s a one time investment but they’ll be around for years.

    1. If you ever decide you want to try the gardening thing again, I’d love to send you some seeds 🙂 And lettuce would likely grow well for you in the winter without too much trouble!

  11. Looking great! I’m jealous of your rhubarb. We have first year rhubarb and I’m under strict instructions to not touch it until next year. We’re having mixed success with the things we planted this year. Hoping for tomatillos, tomatoes, beans, peas and chard, and am pretty sure we’ll have a good raspberry crop again. But the cabbage and basil plants are getting chomped. Love these updates!

    1. Yep, I left the rhubarb completely alone for the first two years for good measure. Added lots of chicken manure and it seems to LOVE it. Also, I can’t believe I didn’t bring you any seeds last weekend! Darn.

    1. I can’t wait to see how they grow! And I’ve never been so nervous for a plant to need to give me seeds for next year before haha.

  12. Great garden update! I found that gardening thoughts have taken up a disproportionate amount of mental space as of late too, must be something in the air! I’m intrigued with hügelkultur and swales, but haven’t gone down that path yet (mostly because we live in the city (still)). Great work also on the seed saving, I always feel like a chump paying for seeds/starts, maybe I’ll get there someday. Those beds look pro, nice work. We are probably most excited for our beets (interesting variety: bull’s blood) and tomatoes (put in a few different varieties) this year. Keep the updates coming!

    1. Mmmm bulls blood beets are great. I’m kicking myself for not planting any beets this spring? But maybe I’ll put some in this fall. I’ve actually done mini hugelkultur beds in large garden pots, so maybe consider that even in your city space?

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