With the date of the last frost behind us and a beautiful weather forecast in store, this past weekend was the perfect time for getting outside and getting our hands dirty in the garden. We spent the better part of Sunday in the backyard, repotting the herbs, seeding the garden bed and transplanting the seedlings that have been growing in our entryway since February.
This will be our family's third year of backyard gardening, and we're hoping this season will be more successful than the previous years. So far, we have proven that we can grow cucumbers. Period.
Our lone bean plant did well the first year, offering up a grand harvest of approximately six beans at a time. They were huge beans – beautiful and delicious – but divvying them up at mealtime was a pitiful sight.
That first year, we also quickly became familiar with a variety of species of aphids. Red ones, black ones, white wooly ones. You name it, we had it feasting in our garden. Lady bugs would have helped if we had gotten them sooner. Soap water in a spray bottle slowed them down, but didn't get rid of them altogether. In the end, we lost the battle, and our sugar snap peas.
The lettuce never had a chance. Our deck lends cover to a nice family of wild rabbits. (Time to patch that hole in the fence.) We also discovered that typical red Carolina clay is not conducive for growing root vegetables. Our carrots and potatoes were a complete failure as well. Lessons learned.
Last year, we got excited about the height of our broccoli plants. They were getting to be three feet tall and looked healthy – no aphids in sight. But, they never crowned. No edible little trees ever made it to the dinner table.
Of course, the fact that our second son was born in the middle of planting season didn't help come harvest time last year. There was very little to brag about (as far as veggies go at least). So, this year, we were better prepared.
Our calendar is covered with dates for approximate planting and harvest times for all of our favorites: broccoli, bush and pole beans, eggplant, sweet peppers, cucumbers, squash and we're trying carrots again – this time in a large container garden on the deck – since they seem to be one of the only vegetables to have ever passed the lips of our four-year-old.
You'll notice one of the most popular additions to the typical backyard garden is conspicuously missing from the list. No one in our family is a lover of tomatoes – whether fresh or in sauce – so they didn't make the cut. But, we rounded out our veggie selection with a complete herb garden and an attempt at some berries, which we planted last year. And Zachary is in charge of caring for a small plot of sunflowers this year.
I hope to have a growing season worth sharing, so look for future posts on the progress of our garden. And if this year's harvest is a success, I'll have some footing for my plan to expand next season.
What are you growing in your backyard garden?