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!
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.