Friday, June 24, 2016

Garden Fail, Garden Kale

Lacinato kale, curly kale, and spinach

This year in my garden, since I actually planted things when they were supposed to be planted (unlike last year), I’ve reaped a pretty sizable harvest already for very little effort. I’m observing what grows well in which parts of the garden, and learning by trial and error what works and what doesn’t. For instance...

Gardening fails: 

Carrots. Apparently I cannot grow carrots this year. Stereotypically enough, bunnies ate my first crop. My second crop, interplanted with cucumbers in a raised bed, died from the heat (see next paragraph). My third crop never sprouted, perhaps from the shriveling hot weather we’ve had lately. I’m going to try sowing a fourth crop, but I’m not too hopeful!

Cucumbers. I narrowly saved these plants from death when I realized that a black wall on the south side of the house is not in fact a good place to grow crops, no matter how heat-loving they are. On our first 100-degree day the cuke vines withered to brown threads, and all their flowers fell off. (And all the carrots died a horrible heat-stroke death.) In a panic I dragged the bed away from the wall, and the vines have survived. I don’t know how many cucumbers I’ll be getting off them, though.

Lettuce. My lettuce grew just fine and looks good, but it is bitter. Holy moly is it bitter. I can’t stand to eat it in salads, so into the freezer for smoothies it goes! I need to figure out what is causing the bitterness and try to fix it. 

Also, a bunny ate the top off my only “Early Girl” tomato today. Ugh. Bunnies.

Gardening wins: 

My wildflowers! After a week or so of daily watering, this patch has needed no care or tending whatsoever. It’s a lot of beauty for no work. And now I have a bouquet of fresh flowers on my table.

Peas, while not turning out a big all-at-once harvest, have been a marvelous snack food for the past couple months. Every time I walked out the door, I’d snag a pod or two and snack on the fresh peas. Yummy! The peas have finished their season, but their vines will go in the compost pile, and as legumes, their roots are tangled up with symbiotic bacteria that make nitrogen accessible for plants that follow them.

Peppers. I guess I can’t call this a “win” yet because I haven’t harvested any, but almost all of my pepper plants are looking really good, and someone of them have little fruits on them! I’m excited to begin harvesting soon.

And finally, my kale and spinach. I sprinkled a few tiny seeds in the spring, and I’ve been rewarded by massive heaps of fresh greens for the past month. I’ve been processing and freezing big batches every week for smoothies, and also eating lots of kale salad and cream of spinach soup. Also, fun fact: when you immerse kale in water, its surface is covered in a thin film of air, making it look like it’s turned to silver. The effect is pure magic. 

So far, I’ve been very pleased with my garden. Whenever something goes wrong, I take a deep breath and remind myself that this is a first-world problem— my survival does not actually depend on this garden. But in the meantime, it’s a lot of fun to eat fresh food that was just a handful of tiny seeds in the spring.

Making homemade cream of spinach soup


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