Edible Garden Rethink

May 20, 2010

Hello!  How are you doing?  Are your thumbs green yet?  Have you begun to harvest from your garden? Can you believe it is past the middle of May!  I’m in a bit of shock as to how fast time is flying by.  It’s almost time for me to plant my tomatoes and basil though…yay!  I’m also planting even more kale…because I love it so!

kale&tomatoes

This past week did not allow for a great deal of personal gardening time.  Between client meetings and sourcing plants I also took two afternoons to travel up to Brimfield and browse through the goodies.

So I’m scrambling to create gardens for my vegetable plants this year.  After the sawdust fiasco I decided some of the garden would be planted in straw bales, and that the herbs I use most would be potted up and placed by the kitchen door.  The straw bales are being conditioned and planted this week, and I have begun the process of making more space for containers.  I bought two matching plant stands at Brimfield and I’ve placed a wooden plank between them to create a raised shelf for parsley and chives to grow behind the huge Endless Summer Hydrangea.

chives

I’ve placed the mint buckets by the back door – lots of rambunctious plants in those, I tell you!  I have planted mint in garden beds, and I love it as a groundcover underneath large established shrubs.  But the best is to keep it corralled in a large, not too deep, container.  These old wash buckets are ideal.  I drilled holes in the bottom before planting them up.   We have several varieties of mint, and I will be planting more – these are the ones that overwintered well without any special attention or fuss…

3mints

I had planned a rather large vegetable garden and was looking forward to trying a bunch of new vegetables.  But that does not seem to be in the cards this year, and after some time to readjust I’ve decided I’m really happy about it.  I am guilty of overextending myself in my own garden.  I underestimate the amount of time and energy tending a large vegetable garden requires, and I usually end up feeling very stressed out and overwhelmed by the end of the season.  Last year I ate one tomato out of three different tomato plants.  The rest were eaten by the local chipmunks.  I had hit the proverbial wall, and even going to look at the tomatoes was too much.  Yes, there was a lot going on in my life besides that vegetable garden, but last week I was remembering how much I resented my vegetable plants at the end of the season and decided to embrace the less is more mantra. Plus, we have signed up for our local CSA and are going to be swimming in vegetables during harvest time.  This year only my absolute favorites are making the cut.

sweetmarj

I have started the plant selection process with the herbs I am planning on growing.  I visited Gilbertie’s Herbs in Westport, CT for ideas and today I sat down with their catalog and created my herb plant order.  Basically I am buying a whole bunch of basil….Cinnamon Basil, Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, Peruvian Basil and Spicy Globe Basil.  I’ll probably impulse buy a couple more…yeah, I love basil!  I will be planting different corianders, oreganos and dill, as well as herba buena and epazote.

I already have a large sage plant, tarragon and bronze fennel growing in what I am turning into an herb garden with one tomato plant.  This small garden is behind the garage and I used to grow my cut flowers here.  I will still have some blooms in this area, but it will primarily be herbs.

herb garden

As far as vegetable plants go, I will be planting 6 tomatoes, more salad greens and radish (I have already been harvesting these, but they are not photogenic at the moment…), several varieties of kale, beets, beans and possibly a watermelon.  This is still a lot of garden, I’m not kidding myself, but it is about a third of what I had originally planned.

I guess the lesson learned for me is that I do not have to do everything I think I want to do.  That spending at least 6 hours a week tending to only the vegetable garden is too much for me to ask of myself…especially since I work with plants, and some days they are the last thing I want to think about when the work day is done.  I do not have to be the one with the coolest varieties of things nobody has ever heard of.  I would rather be the one with a happy belly and lots of time to share the bounty with my friends and loved ones.

Have you ever let your enthusiasm get the better of you when it comes to your garden?  Do you have any tales to tell or any lessons learned to share?  How are your gardens doing? I’m all ears!!!

Caroline Finnegan owns Ladybug Landscaping, a full service organic landscaping company. based in CT. She is a NOFA accredited landcare professional and when not designing gardens can be found rearranging her furniture or out at a flea market finding new goodies. She almost always has dirt under her nails.


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6 comments

comments

  • jenn bronson | May 20, 2010

    Oh, yes! My husband and I know all about overextending ourselves when it comes to gardens. We have not only our own personal garden to care for, but also his parents garden, a garden we planted and maintain at Big Bend Hospice, AND our veggie plot at a community garden in town!! It is a bit much, but we can’t seem to stop ourselves. We give a lot of veggies and flowers away to family and friends which makes us happy. We have learned that seeds are our nemesis and we must keep our wants under control!!

  • spent the majority of the day in the garden yesterday—putting in my warm weather crops! these pictures are lovely!!

  • wow!! i wish i could get my spices to look and grow that well! what’s the secret??

  • you are one ambitious lady! :)

  • I started a garden a month ago! Is starting to grow!

  • MaryWynn | June 4, 2010

    Lol enough basil? We are guilty of the same – last year we had 6 plants and this year we put in about 30. What can I say, my husband is Italian.

    I am trying to get the hang of a potage where things are staggered and we don’t have simultaneous gluts. It makes me very happy to pick my dinner :) That said, we’ve expanded our yard plot and put in one at a local community garden so we shall see if we can keep up. The second site is more for the social aspect.

    I really like your container gardening too- thanks for the potting mix post. I’ve been using mushroom compost in my containers and I feel like it’s a little heavy but hadn’t given it much thought. I’ll be grabbing some coir tomorrow!

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