I’ll admit it: I didn’t think we were going to pull of a home garden this year. Life with an infant involves a lot of juggling and time that seems to disappear, and a garden takes work- especially at the beginning. Up in Park City, we have a short growing season, so you really have to be committed to growing food yourself in order for it to be worth it. We enjoy the process and satisfaction we get from eating out of our backyard. The rule to avoid a surprise late frost is to wait until Father’s Day to plant anything. The day before Father’s Day, the garden was full of weeds, haunted old tomato plant stalks, and one resilient red lettuce from last year. It wasn’t pretty and I simply thought this might be the Year of the Farmers Market.
My husband surprises me sometimes. He woke early on Father’s Day (despite the fact that I tried to take over Oden’s early morning shenanigans so he could sleep). After a great morning bike ride with a friend, he came home ready to tackle the garden. It means SO much more work for him than for me. He has to clean out last year’s remnants before prepping the soil, which involves tilling our own compost (yes!) into the dirt. He has to deal with the sprinkler system, as well. This year, he couldn’t even start those steps before clearing the brush from around the garden beds!
Halfway through his hard work in the hot sun, we took a family trip to the Park City Nursery to pick up the plants before it closed. It’s like Eden! I love wandering around the little trails and showing Oden different types of flowers and trees.
We took notes from past years’ successes and failures and stuck to what works. Every year, we pray for a decent frost-free season for the tomatoes. If we get one or two tomato toastettes out of the deal, it’s worth it. If we get a batch of tomato soup, it’s a huge success! We nixed any sort of zucchini or squash, because the plants take up a ton of room and don’t produce a lot of vegetables. Our cucumbers did super well last year (remember the pickles?), so we kept one of those, opting for a different variety. We cut back on the herbs in the garden boxes in favor of pots on the patio. Here’s what we’ll be growing on the back hill this year!
- Four types of tomatoes: Early Girl, Subarctic, Brandywine Heirlooms, and Sun Sugars
- Three types of hot peppers: 3 habaneros, 2 jalapeños, and a Chile de Arbol
- Sweet cucumber
- Four types of lettuces: baby Tuscan kale, sweet mixed greens, wasabi arugula, baby romaine
In pots, we’re growing:
- Italian parsley
- Mint (mojitos!)
We also added various potted flowers for color, and have a resilient chive plant that returns each year!
It was almost 8pm before John had finished the preparation for planting the garden, which meant switching gears to Oden’s bath and bedtime and making dinner. We enjoyed a fabulous (late night) steak dinner on the patio- our first al fresco meal of the year!
John would be leaving on a business trip the following day, so the planting would fall to me. Luckily, Oden cooperated with a healthy mid-morning nap on Monday. Working quickly, I was able to get everything in the ground and arrange the soaker hoses around the veggies and herbs.
Now comes the fun part: waiting to see how things grow and eating off of the land. Summer means tending the garden, harvesting salad fixings each night before dinner, trimming herbs for new recipes, and feeling the joy of growing our own food!
I switched this year to just doing a container garden. My daughter was the gardner and without her doing it I apparently don’t have the motivation. I figured with the containers it was just so simple. I don’t know yet if they are going to produce enough to make it worth doing it again next year.
I salivate whenever I see those beautiful and functional garden beds. John really has a talent for building, and I have been following long enough to remember all that went into them.
Ginny was two before juggling a backyard garden could happen here (2011), and it took two more years before it was pretty much managing itself (i.e. full of earthworms, no watering, layered ‘free’ materials, minimal management). The Texas growing season may be longer, but 95 degree spring/summer/fall have unique challenges.
Fellow blogger, Plumdirt here in Texas, has added two babies to her juggle recently and is still ‘puttering’ between naps/feedings — in the driest Central Texas ta boot. You two might have much in common.
Nature does it best; domesticated, sterile soil requires so much more work than natural earth loaded with organics and microbes. I learned this the hard way.
Glad to see you still eating from your yard, Amber! Nothing beats home grown maters and peppers. It’s what keeps us going — growing!!