Archive for the 'raised beds' Category

21
Jun
10

How does your garden grow?

Welcome to Vampire Gran's Garden!

On March 30th of this year I started planting a raised bed garden.  It’s difficult to believe that tomorrow is the official first day of summer, June 21st.  Here in the Pacific Northwest we have had days and weeks of unending rain and very sporadic bursts of sunshine.  And somehow my garden seems to be thriving.  We’ve already harvested and consumed all of the lettuce that was planted at the end of March.  It was my first attempt at growing lettuce and it was a success.  Not one head was lost.  Probably because I identify with the Evil Queen from Snow White and not the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland!

Harvesting my very first beet

Wow, look at those beautiful beet greens!  Life is truly wonderful when a simple thing like pulling a fresh beet from the earth can bring a smile that I could feel through my whole body.

I look like a proud parent

Growing our own food is so awesome.  Everyone should do it, no matter where you live.  The cool thing about beets is that you can eat the whole plant, not just the root.  I’m steaming these greens tomorrow for dinner.  The root is going into our fresh veggie juice  this afternoon.  It’s gonna be delicious.

Five raised beds all in row

The bed in the foreground used to hold large heads of lettuce, but we’ve already enjoyed those.  There’s a jalapeno and a butternut squash starting there now.  You can see basil, dill, chives, Italian parsley, orange thyme and summer savory closer to where I am standing.

View from behind the garage

I’m standing in front of the shelling peas.  Those things really grew fast!  Leeks and onions are in that bed as well.  To the right are the beets and broccoli.  To the left you can see tomato plants.

Checking out the peas

It was just last weekend that the pea pods appeared.  They are so sweet and tender.  We like to pick and eat them right there on the spot.   What a treat!

Just beautiful!

Such a beautiful shade of green

OK, one more shot - jeez, who knew peas could be such hams!

Not to be upstaged by the peas, the beet greens make another appearance

Seriously, look how gorgeous those greens are.  When I was a kid, people used to tell me I would make a good farmer’s wife because I used to get up before the sun was up.  Who knew I was the one who would end up being the farmer.

Thanks for coming to check on our garden's progress

Well, now I’m heading to the garage to ditch my gloves and gardening garb.  Then off to the kitchen to rinse my beloved beet and enjoy it our afternoon juice.  Cheers!

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30
Mar
10

Martha would be proud

It’s been a while since I’ve perused a Martha Stewart magazine, but I recall there was always a calendar listing all of Martha’s to-do things for the month.  One time there was an entry stating “prepare garden beds for planting such-n-such.”  My daughter made the comment “It’s more like, have Javier prepare the garden bed.”  Something tells me Martha probably had one of her staff do the work, but I like to think that she gets out there and really does get her perfectly manicured hands into some muck once in a while.  After all, she’s an ex con.  She’s hard core!

In the spirit of Martha Stewart, let’s get ready for spring.  What does that mean?  For some it’s enjoying the warmer weather while others delight in the spring rain.  Kids and students of all ages look forward to Spring Break.  If you are a fan of the Easter Bunny, it’s your season.  And whether you are a seasoned urban farmer or someone who just likes to dig in the dirt and throw some seeds in and cross your fingers, the time is now.  I pretty much fall into that second category.  Although the seed thing has never really worked for me.  I like to buy the plants already started because I feel I have a pretty decent chance of getting something to harvest in a couple of months.

We just celebrated our first year in our current home.  We moved in March 1st, 2009 and spent so much time getting moved in and settled that the five raised beds in our huge back yard were low on my priority list.  I did manage to get a few things planted and growing in the summer last year, kind of  a baby step in gardening terms.  I was determined to start earlier this year and I actually made progress last weekend.

See all of those weeds in the back two beds?  That is what all five of the raised beds looked like before last weekend.  Fortunately for me, the dirt in all of the boxes is really good stuff, soft, loose and easy to dig and weed.  If it wasn’t I probably would’ve put plywood over the top of the whole mess and made a deck.  Did I mention that I am lazy when it comes to manual labor?

Here are  three beds all cleaned up and ready for planting.  I really enjoy the prepping of the beds because it is so much like cooking.  Mixing the compost into the dirt, getting my hands in there and really connecting with the ingredients.  I don’t think I am ready to actually taste the stuff to adjust seasoning, but ya’ never know.  Anyway, raking and smoothing the earth was like frosting a cake; I kept leveling and smoothing just as I do when I’m whipping up a confection for a client ,until it is baby bear just right!

The chives actually survived the winter ( so did the little tag) so I left them in place.  I will be adding more herb friends to this little area soon so the chives will not be so lonely.

The front box has lettuce and the rear box is home to broccoli and three varieties of beets.

Golden beets are in the foreground, to the left are Shiraz Top Red beets and on the right Candy Striped beets.  That’s the broccoli in the background.

This is the rosemary shrub that grows by our deck (see, we already have a deck so that crack I made about building one is kinda moot).  I just put this picture in because I think it looks pretty nice and I love having fresh herbs on hand all year round.  The next three pictures are of our back yard.  I wish I had a panoramic lense on my camera so I could capture the entire thing in one shot.  We love this yard; it’s like having a city park behind our home.

To the left you can see the raised beds and our next door neighbors yard.   We just happen to have a master gardener for a next door neighbor, which comes in pretty handy when I have questions.  The fact that she is in her 80’s , hard of hearing  and a little unsteady on her feet doesn’t stop me from asking for advice.  Besides, I can talk pretty loud.

The smaller tree by that shed is an Asian Pear.  That gets really loaded down by the end of summer! 

This is a shot down the center of the yard.  From left to right we have a cherry tree, and apple tree of some kind and another apple tree.  We have yet to see any apples but we did get some cherries last year.  Our gardener, Ed,  and his daughter Katie, were here working the day before these pictures were taken.  The college aged Katie mowed the lawn and we’re not sure if she has balance issues or was perhaps hung over.  You be the judge.

 This final shot has the apple tree from the previous photo plus an Italian plum tree.  There is a currant tree way back in the corner near the wood fence that the humming birds love!  It’s the little tree with the pink flowers.

We also have raspberries, blueberries, a green gage plum  and a fig tree on our property.  Today, when I got off work,  I purchased 6 pack starters of peas, leeks, cippolini onions and cabbage.  Looks like I may become an urban farmer yet.  Thanks for reading my ramblings and checking out the photos of our back yard.  It may not be as grand as one of Martha’s estates, but it feels like a royal garden to us.




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