Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Meager backyard garden beginnings

So it's spring! Spring is a time for me to start over with a lot of things but most of all with my garden! Last year did not work all. That's not completely true actually, but mostly. We had planted some tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapeƱo peppers, eggplant, mint, cilantro, and basil. The tomatoes were a disaster. We have a lot of shade in our backyard. Too much I think. I tried to strategically place a couple raised beds (basically just boxes that are open on the top and bottom of whatever dimension you want to plant stuff in which helps control weeds, watering, etc) in sunny spots, but we really don't have any full sunny spots in our yard. So basically, I got 2 or 3 micro tomatoes that were butt ugly out of the 5 or so plants I planted. The eggplant, peppers, and cucumbers straight up died. The cilantro grew like psycho crazy quickly and then started to make weird flowers and died. The basil was GREAT (that's an easy herb to grow I guess) but quickly grew as well and started making weird flowers and died. The mint just grew like crazy and I didn't really know what to do with it all and I just let it go crazy and wild then die in the fall. SO last year was a major fail. I pretty much planted the stuff and forgot about it though. I also realized that I needed to be more strategic when it comes to what I plant and where. Some plants will handle shade better than others. I read somewhere that the rule is "Roots and Fruits" need lots of sunlight and anything else should be ok in some shade. So lettuce is good in shade for example, but (surprise!) tomatoes are not (cause they make fruits---basically any food that comes out of a flower).
Since I'm half Ghanaian and actually cook Ghanaian food for my family, I need a lot of tomatoes. In Ghana tomatoes are a necessary staple. It's in huge pots of soup and stew. We use tomatoes all the time. So long story short, I did not completely give up on having an abundance of tomatoes with plenty of leftovers for the winter (I've frozen extras in the past and I'd love to try to do canning/jarring).
This year I moved all the raised beds to close to the house to the sunniest part (the sunny part that had grass and I didn't want to dig up last year, but oh well, I'd rather tons of tomatoes than extra grassy areas). The garden being closer to the house hopefully means that I will actually check on it every now and then. I looked up what I could grow better in some shade and threw in some that would be my "Hail Mary's" (hope that's not insulting to our Lady! I really do pray Hail Mary's for our garden!!). Guess what else? I did not know that mint is a psycho crazy plant and a perennial (comes back every year so you don't have to replant it). I looked down at my weed infested raised beds a month or two ago and realized there were tons of mint plants growing! I decided that I'm going to try to take care of them this time.
Because of the disaster last year, and me discussing all the things I want to try this year, my husband, Kobi, was pretty much like, "You're on your own this year, I'm focusing on the other gazillion things we need to be taking care of outside". To which I responded "YEEEEESSSSS!!!!!" because this means I get to do whatever I want!! LOL. And of course my plan is to be rediculopusly successful so I can be like, "You see? I'm not that crazy after all huh?"
So below are some photos of what I'm planning so far.

Chocolate mint plants
The chocolate mint is so named because of the stems which are chocolate colored. No it does not taste like chocolate (that would have been cool though).
Beets (from seed)

Here is a dandelion plant that volunteered to grow amidst the mint chaos. Did you know that every part of a dandelion (from the root on up to the yellow flower) is not only edible but good for you? I started to eat the leaves off of this baby and new leaves keep growing. I add it to my other greens. It's not bad!

Here is my hole that I dug up to plant a blueberry bush. I couldn't help myself! I want some fruits too!

My pretty blueberry bush status post planting (sorry...that was the doctor in me coming out again...will try to tuck that away again). Why, yes those are little blueberries growing that you see. Thank you so much for asking.

"Lettuce" (Yea, that's all it said. Lettuce. Aren't there different kinds of lettuce? Well this is just lettuce apparently.

And of course, my tomato plants. Yea....I got a lot. Like 9 plants or something. I'm determined to make this happen....Please God let it happen!

And this little guy sort of showed up at the wrong time for him and the right time for my daughter. Sorry Mr. Froggie. My 3 year old would love to pet you and talk to you for a few minutes. Thank you very much for your time.

I would LOVE to have some comments about gardening especially with a less than ideal backyard. Let's all educate one another. Any tips are much appreciated!

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