A few weeks back when I posted the raised garden bed how to, I never expected the responses of how lucky I was to have the space and the right amount of sun to have a garden. Both are fairly important starting out of course. Our backyard garden is big, and mostly because a) I have lost my mind and b) half of it serves the restaurant.
The first summer I built the boxes I wanted to grow it all, so I did. It was fun, it was a learning experience, and I can tell you right now, I will likely never plant watermelon again. Guys – mad, mad props to watermelon farmers. We all enjoy it, right? Well, it takes a ton of space, sun, and much more patience then I have. The vine took over our garden, and at the end of the summer, we only got a few ripe melons, the rest either rotted on the vine, or were picked too soon and never ripened enough to enjoy. Alas, I will keep getting them from farmer’s markets and grocery stores.
I wanted to take a few minutes and show you the method to my madness, why I pick certain vegetables over others, and how simple and rewarding this undertaking can be.
First things first – if you are new to vegetables and herb gardening whether it be small pots, boxes or a backyard, I highly recommend The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible. A lot of tips, tricks, guidance, what can be planted together versus what can’t, and a helpful tool to keep your gardening sanity.
Each spring, I make a quick sketch of the garden and make a list of what I a want to plant and how it will all fit.
This year, I broke some of the boxes down into groups L&L could relate to. What do you put on a pizza? Taco? Or how does ice cream get that mint flavor? It’s all in farming. I plant the garden as much for my mental health, as I do to support Chef, and show my guys how hard farmers work to get food on our tables. Life lessons, I hope. I kinda dream they will both go off to college and study agriculture, and enjoy life on a farm.
Once I get my layout, I create a shopping list. This goes to the nursery to help keep me organized.
I cut back on some items from previous years. I decided against planting any salad greens because I am usually the only one that eats it and it goes to waste. I am going to let you in on a gardening secret. I know many people that have vegetable gardens that are willing to share and swap harvest. If I need greens and I can just head to my parents house.
If creating a backyard vegetable garden seems daunting, try going in with a neighbor. Maybe you plant basil, tomatoes and peppers, and they plant greens, cucumbers and squash? Mix and match, that way it doesn’t seem daunting and you know your harvest won’t go to waste.
Looking closely at that list there are a lot of herbs. I use herbs almost everyday. Chef uses 100 fold what I use. The majority of the tarragon, thyme, basil and parsley will be harvested for the restaurant all summer long.
I grab my gloves, gardening trowel, water bottle and I hit the boxes. It seems big, but it only takes about 90 minutes to get all the plants in. Then I stand back and think this this whole thing needs to be mulched. I start dreaming of a good harvest, all the recipes that can come out of this little piece of land, and I that’s when I am ready for summer.
I will keep you updated with the harvest as the summer continues. In the meantime, it’s not too late to consider planting an herb or two, or a vegetable in a pot in the backyard. It’s just the beginning of the summer gardening journey.