It starts here
In my basement is a well lit gardening work table. Here I read, and do the delicate work of inserting seeds in good starting mix in cel trays.
This has been just about my favorite garden/food related book to date. I highly recomend it as a very good read, full of humor and thought provoking information.
Eat Local Food
Jane's narative about establishing a new garden was fully captivating.
How To Do It Effectively
This great book contains very useful information about hundreds of edible plants. It promotes biointensive, double dug, raised bed gardening.
Limited Space Gardening
This John Jeavons title drew my interest since it describes how to get a lot out of a small amount of land.
There are hundreds of seed catalogues which offering a vast variety of seeds. I have chosen to grow as many organic, heirloom varieties as possible.
I refer to this attractive "Bible" on an almost daily basis for its helpful recomendations on everything pertaining to my prefered style of gardening.
Early Morning Mist
On occasion, everything beyond my property line disappears into the mist. When this happens we have the brief illusion of living in the country even though we are right in the middle of town.
My front porch gets the best early spring light before the Maple trees leaf out. Even so I have to augment the light with timed lamps. In this space I start approximately 1200 plants.
Watering at appropriate intervals, adjusting lamp hight, monitoring temperature are important.
The soil is loosened with a broadfork and raked to present a fine surface ready for planting.
First Peas Are Up!
The pepper beds are covered in black plastic to warm the soil. Onion plants are set in at 3" intervals.
Peppers, Eggplant, Tomatos are all covered at the outset to protect against cold nights and windy days. 5 gallon pails work great and allow plenty of room for plant growth. The long middle beds, with builtin trellises are reserved for peas planated in sequence.
Specially tall frames are prepared for several varieties of pole beans.
View From the Perenial Beds
While my flower gardens are beautiful for their color, I am continuously tempted to intersperse the flowers with vegetables.
Floating Row Covers
Eggplant, Brussel Sprouts and Cabbage are protected from aphids by floating row covers until they are about 12" tall.
Garden Work Station
This small deck next to the garden has a work counter and sink for prewashing of vegetables before transport the the house. This is also the best of all place for the first cup of coffee in the morning. This ritual often happens at 6 am before the sun comes up over the trees.
I am always impatient for the spuds to break through. Once leaves show, they are covered again to form a tall mound leaving room on either side for bush beans, their friendly companions.
I love the perkey little droplets of water on the leaves of the young plants.
All of the straw which served as winter blanket for the raised beds was raked into the narrow paths in the spring. As it continues to decompose some of it is returned to the beds as mulch around plants which like to have their roots stay cool.
The spring treat is to watch the garlic outgrow everything else in the garden.
When I delivered a head of Bronze Arrow lettuce my neighbor said she did not know whether to eat it or put it in a vase. It makes a beautiful bouquet.
These shrouds are for the living, not the dead.
Overall View in Early Spring
I love the garden at this stage, where each plant can be seen surrounded by rich dark soil.
Peas grow steadily building anticipation for that first tasty crunch!
One area has many huge boulders, various bushes, grasses and hundreds of shade plants.
One of my favorite plants because of its determined early start.
Baby Kale with Lettuce
These heads of lettuce are hiding under the kale which provides great shade.
A Head of Lettuce
A happy gardener
A Lettuce Head
To harden seedlings they spend time in cold frames after leaving the front porch.
The first garden task is to loosen the soil in each bed and add any supplements needed.
House, Studio and Garden
My home was purchased in 1970 because it had a substantial outbuilding which could become a working pottery studio.
When I first double dug the 24 beds they looked like fresh graves. I put little crosses at the ends!
Pole Bean Cages
This method did not work well for me. The beans got confused by the 1" square poles and couldn't figure out how to wind.
Tina had to reach for the highest peas!
Sometimes the garden feels out of control! It is a good feeling actually since we know that we can not eat, put up or give away will be returned to the soil for the next season's garden.
My six bushes are very old but with adequate pruning continue to produce all we can eat fresh and put up for winter.
The worm's eye view of the chard forest! Back lit by the early morning sun, the chard leaves are almost the prettiest foliage in the garden.
I have always surrounded the entire garden with a marigold barrior fence. This enthusiastic bloomer always reminds me of the Dia de Los Muertos celebrations in Mexico. I love both the glorious color and the pungent smell of these plants.
...up close and personal with garden candy!
This year nasturtiums were interspersed throughout the garden. Their lovely round leaves provide visual contrast, they serve as a natural pest repellent and you can eat the flowers! Their delicate peppery taste is the perfect companion for fresh lettuce.
I plant three kinds and each has its own visual quality.
The shy zuchinni flower peeks out to see who's hanging round.
A Shirtfull of Produce
The daily question is whether to eat now or put up for delayed gratification.
Tina in the jungle - Flicka waiting patiently.
Flicka, the Garden Dog
Well, Do I Get Some?
Flicka, eternally hopeful dreams of green beans!
Patience Pays Off!
After a very long and veggie fed life, Flicka, our beloved Chessie, had to be put to rest. She loved beans till the end, and tomatoes were her only source of liquid in her last few days. She was buried just under the spot where she sits in this picture.
I tie up the potato vines to make room for the bush beans on either side.
Droplets on Red Cabbage
Love Those Reds!
Stripping the Beds
It is sad, but healthy to strip each bed, add compost and think ahead to next year.
The Long View
In the fall each bed is deeply covered with fluffed straw to extend micro-organism activity into the late fall and allow for an early start. Brussel Sprouts remain for New Year's Day harvest.
In the late fall it is hard to remember the summer heat.
In our region, carrots can also be left in the soil throughout the winter.
The marigolds are just about the last to be removed from the garden to the compost pile. They retain their sunny disposition into the late fall.
The fish head totem overlooking the garden housed became a sparow and warbler condo and provides much entertainment while we garden.
This summer the live trap gathered five woodchucks, a squirrel, a possum and this cute little skunk. He was so tired from spending his night trying to get out that he slept in the trap all day after I opened it for him!
A new raised bed was prepared next to the blueberries in the summer of '07 in anticipation of planting asparagus in the next spring.
"Now I lay me down to sleep..."
A deep clean straw blanket is added to each bed after a layer of compost is worked into the soil.
While the garden is looking all grey and bleak, I am beginning to get next season's catalogues. In the dark Western New York winter nights I sit and dream over the colorful reproductions of veggies clamoring for space in my garden. Some new varieties will make it in the next season.
Frosty the Sprout
The garden season does not truly come to an end until the frozen sprouts are harvested for Christmas dinner!