Thursday, May 15, 2014

Get Growing

Dirt has been flying in the Bauer backyard, and, surprisingly, it's been on purpose.

I'm back today for the fifth year to recap the latest installment of the Bauer Family Garden. When we first moved to this house, it came with a sudden change of pace and I finally had time to dig into the idea of growing my own food. Many years and all sorts of children later, we're still going strong and learning something new every year. I am still a beginner, but I'm thankful to have had success with each attempt, and snagged some good family time in the process:

Once again I will report on dirty hands, plant varieties, and what goes where. That's fantastic if you enjoy this type of thing, but these posts are mostly for Future Jessica. This is my official garden journal for crop rotation, varieties, and planting dates. One year I went too early and had to cover everything in fear of frost, one year I grew the most delicious tomatoes I'd ever tasted, and one year I planted a zucchini type that was overrun with squash bugs. These are things I need to remember. If you are interested in what I've learned in my gardening journey, just go ahead and find the garden tab at the top of the page {or in the drop-down menu if you're on mobile}. Look out, y'all - I have tabs!

Back to the task at hand. This year we decided to stick with our four raised beds. Beneath the weeds we found dark, beautiful soil that only needed a bit of compost to reach perfection. Once it was tilled and ready, I asked Jonathan to move over {several} feet to tear up a new patch specifically for the boys. They had been asking to grow watermelons. The one time I attempted it, we learned that melon plants need much more room than the 4x4 space we gave them, so we decided to give them a patch all their own. Since the Bauer Boys' spot is distanced from my beloved garden, we threw a squash plant in to see what happens. Now, for some visual aids:

Cucumbers, Beans, and Strawberries

These 4x8 beds are the two closest to the house. On the left you will see the same old trellis that's been there since the start. Owen and Nathan were asked to carefully cover cucumber seeds with a thin layer of soil, and they've been pumped to see the sprouts pop up over the past few days. Green vines will wind around the metal in no time. The boys filled the rest of this bed with rows of bush bean seeds, which also germinated quickly. Owen is excited about this bed for two reasons: 1) cucumbers and 2) green beans. His favorites! On the right are our strawberry plants, planted April 2012. These beauties have taken over compared to last year, and the berries are bigger, juicier, and sweeter. Yum! Look closely at the picture and you may find one.

Peppers and Tomatoes,
with a peek at the new Watermelon/Squash patch in the back

These two 4x12 beds lie behind the smaller ones, and I've devoted them completely to peppers and tomatoes. We have two green bells, two red bells, and two jalapenos planted with marigolds for the pollinators. Over the years I've eaten small, misshapen, and disappointing ones and I say, "Mmm, homegrown!" but peppers just don't work for me. Our neighbors, who are much more advanced, gave us a few cups of fertilizer when we planted last week and promised different results. I'm cautiously optimistic. On the right are my babies {and some marigolds}. Tomatoes are the reason I got into gardening. The strawberries are a close second, but I cannot express the pure joy I get from biting into a bright red beauty. I have two Early Girl plants {this one produces early and often}, two Arkansas Traveler plants {grew this last year for the first time and loved the size and flavor}, and two Cherokee Purples {new to me, but it's an heirloom that gets rave reviews}.

And just like that, gardening season has begun. Planting is the easy part for me. What lies ahead reveals a lot about my personality: obsessing over every leaf spot, Googling every bug, fretting over too much heat, temperature dips, too much rain or too much wind, and mastering the art of knowing when to water. Before long I'll be searching for horn worm droppings on the tomato plants {this is not a joke}, looking up proper bean length, and deciphering the best method to determine watermelon ripeness.

It's a good thing I have extra help this year:

I dare you to tell me this is not the best Nora photo ever published.
Oh, this baby!

Cheers to the start of a new season! Cheers to the time of year that brings my family out of the house, puts fresh food on my table, and teaches us a little something in the meantime. Here's to hot days pulling weeds and picking beans, warm nights and cold drinks on the backyard swing, and a summer full of sweet babies in the green grass. I have a feeling this is going to be a good one, y'all.

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1 comment:

Jamie said...

How fun! Your daughter looks like an adorable ladybug :)