For the last few years I’ve shared garden duties (and joys) with one of our downstairs neighbors. Every year we make a list, head to the garden shop, then spend a weekend day weeding, planting, and then sometimes celebrating with a cocktail in the backyard. In Mid-April we planted our garden for the spring. We made the list, went to Flowercraft, and we only forgot one thing (cilantro). This year we didn’t have to spend half the day weeding our small, but mighty little backyard beds. Last fall we decided to cover the beds with newspaper and cedar to slow the weed explosion that happens annually, and it worked pretty well. We raked back the cedar pretty quickly to uncover happy, relatively weed-free soil. I was a little worried that the heavy cedar might kill the good stuff in our soil, but I was happy to see some fat worms as we amended the soil.
This year we’ve planted snow peas, parsley, zucchini, cucumber (it died already, but we’re going to try again), strawberries, fox glove, celery, mixed lettuce and thyme. From previous years we still have artichokes, figs, blueberries, rosemary, garlic, nasturtiums, honeysuckle, lemons, lemon verbena and oregano. Last year we harvested one artichoke, but I let it flower, then dried it because it was too pretty to eat. This year we’ve got a handful of blueberries on the bush, and I’m hoping we’ll get to eat them before the birds do.
Every year we want to plant cilantro, but we’ve yet to be successful. Why? Lots of plants starts look like cilantro! We’re trying, but failing here guys. Last year, instead of cilantro we bought an insane amount of parsley starts. It grew and grew, and we forgot all about cilantro. This year instead of cilantro… we bought celery starts. Who knew we’d do it again? I’m hoping this will lead to more bloody marys… because what else is celery good for?
Did I just lure you in here with some crazy cat photos? The little cats are clearly enjoying the new duvet, and the subsequent rearranging of all our bedroom furniture, spurred by some slightly over-ambitious weekend plans. I take the blame here, Intern did not encourage this plan to move absolutely everything out of our bedroom, then back in again (after triple-vacuuming every inch)… but he did support me when I declared my desperate need to change everything. Thanks fella. Our bedroom is now freshly rearranged, the cats are well-napped, and I’ve been very productive ever since.
On Friday I’ll be sharing some news and updates about the upcoming Skill Exchange + StoreFrontLab pop-up in September… but for now, how about something else entirely?
The garden is going going going (at the moment). We’ve been eating fistfuls of snow peas, and have picked a few baby zucchini. I am resisting every urge to pick the squash blossoms, settling instead on checking the progress of our fence-covering efforts. The honeysuckle is going crazy and spreading out, and the beans are happily reaching past the top of the fence. Our lettuce has gone bitter, and we’re slowly pulling it out to make room for new starts. I’ve coaxed Intern out into the backyard on several occasions lately. This weekend we drank margaritas (in the July mist) and grilled shrimp, tortillas and peaches for dinner. Treat yourself and get the grilled and marinated shrimp recipe from the most recent Bon Appetite magazine. Turmeric, fish sauce, and a spicy cilantro-chili-ginger dipping sauce. We made it on the 4th of July, and I can’t stop thinking about it/making it/talking about making it.
See that first photo, of that cute little lemon right there? That is the average size of most of the lemons on our tree in the backyard. Now take a look at those mammoth lemons. Those lemons come from the very top of the tree– and those prize lemons have been out of my reach until now. After three years of yearning for those grapefruit-sized lemons, I bought a citrus picker. Look who is picking the best lemons now guys! I don’t know why I didn’t get one sooner.
This weekend we picked our first modest harvest of sugar-snap peas and ate them before we got back upstairs to the kitchen. Our squash and zucchini plants are just starting to produce, and the scarlet runner beans are starting to bloom alongside the peas and early morning glories.
The garden exploded with growth and new green in the week I was away from home. I’ve eaten radishes and green salads from our backyard every day since I’ve been home, and I’ve even shared some with my non-gardening Intern. Lucky guy!
My backyard neighbor, Lauren and I share weeding, watering, snail-hunting and planting responsibilities, and we share an abundance of pride over our little patch of garden success. We’ve already had quite a few cocktail toasts to our modest bounty this year, and we haven’t even picked a single bean or squash yet. I suspect we’ll be insufferable by July, gloating over every bean, mint leaf, morning glory and artichoke that doesn’t get eaten by something else first.
We’ve been eating the peppery Nasturtium leaves in our salads, but my mom just sent me this Nasturtium cocktail recipe. Tequila and gardening? Sure, why not!
The peas are starting to climb the fence, the sunflowers are opening, the sage is flowering, and the strawberries have yet to be eaten by slugs.