After spending an idyllic hour eating lunch on a sunny patio (indeed the birds chirped, the breeze blew and passers-by seemed almost jolly), it struck me that it is still technically winter for three more weeks. As spring sprung in Arizona months ago, I’ve got my mind on all things out-of-doors (rather than homework, obviously). Additionally an old friend and my soon-to-be mother-in-law, M-5, are talking gardening, so this week’s Thursday 13 is my I-can’t-wait-to-play-in-the-dirt-and-see-these-badboys-come-up list!
1. Rows of TOMATOES. Early girls, best boys, golden plums, celebrities, heirlooms, you name it! Tomatoes are my ultimate favorite homegrown treat. Last year, I started eight plants and sprouted trimmings for a total of 11. I would have done more, but there is only so much room in my plot. It was nuts!
2. Beautiful basil. Basil is a close second for me. It is so cool (and cost effective!) to pop out to the back yard and cut a bunch of fragrant, fresh basil whenever I’m cooking. The stuff from the store doesn’t even compare! Combined with the tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and olive oil: heaven! Also, note to yourselves, the flavor of tomatoes is improved when planted next door to basil.
3. Cool cucs. Although mine were attacked by some aphid monsters last year, I’m excited to try them again. Crisp, and mild cucs are a salad favorite! I tried some from small plants and some from seeds. Couldn’t tell a difference.
4. Spicy cilantro. Again, a garden failure (don’t ask me why), but the plants that lived kicked ass. The cilantro from the garden beats store-bought any day of the week! Think of fresh salsa with homegrown cilantro and tomatoes. To die for!
5. Radical rads.
T and I are big radish fans, and they are such a rewarding item to plant. They sprout in just a few days and come to maturity in less than a month. Can’t beat that! When I’m home, I’ll find T’s recipe for “Radical Rads,” a sauteed radish dish with balsamic glaze. Mmmmm!
6. Great green beans (pole style). Due to watering errors on my part, we didn’t have a ton of greenbeans in the end, BUT I have to tell you how freaking COOL my beanstalk was! Being a citified chick, it never occurred to me that they actually DO curl up poles and what not, just like Jack & The Beanstalk. Amazing, I tell you. They also taste really good.
7. Greater green beans (bush style). Although I found these buggers to be territorial (they took over the beets and the tomatoes), bush beans produced a lot and were tasty.
8. Zucs. I didn’t plant any last year because zucchini has a tendency to be prolific (and uneaten) according to my actual gardener friends, but I think I must plant one or two since said gardener friends didn’t actually share like they said they would!
9. Crunch carrots. Although the gardening articles say you shouldn’t plant carrots because it’s cheaper to buy them in the store (it’s true from a time perspective… those buggers take forever to grow), they are so fun to pull out of the ground! Maybe it’s just me, but the big bushy greens and little orange carrots were worth the effort. (Of course, some of them, okay a lot of them, turned out quite stubby. T called them “carrot nubs” actually and asked if I could just “put them back” to grow longer. ha!)
10. Streets of beets. I’m not a beet fan. I think they taste like dirt, and last year’s crop was a complete and utter failure due to “uneven watering” aka I didn’t actually care about them. But, Mr. T loves them and I find their red tops quite lovely, so we’ll do another round.
11. Baby bell peppers. Our peppers produced all the way to October last year!
13. Sweet strawberries, someday. On my wish list for when I have more space with fewer fruit-loving critters, I want a strawberry patch. A great, big, huge, beautiful strawberry patch!
P/S I highly recommend Square Foot Gardening by Mel Batholomew. By the book. Read it. Love it. Own it. GROW IT! 😉
All photos by me from Project Green Thumbs, 2009.