It’s that time of year… my hands are dirty, my boots are caked in mud and my dining room table is covered with seedlings starting to pop. It’s garden time! This literally is my absolute favorite time of year. I get so excited thinking about the fruits and veggies my yard is about to produce for me and more importantly, how I can roast them, grill them, bake them, preserve them…. well you get the point. I won’t deny having a big garden is a ton of work. However, it might just be the most satisfying work you can do. It is also a ton of fun. Obviously, I love to cook, but cooking with something that you just pulled out of your garden 5 minutes before just makes that dish so much more amazing. Plus, last year I had a fabulous garden party at the end of the summer and made everything out of food from the garden (I will post about that a little later). So, if you are planning a vegetable garden or just trying to get some ideas, then keep reading!
I always start by loading up on seeds in early February. I get any seeds I think look fun or different. I also really like getting vegetables with lots of color so my garden is bright and fun. I have done Dragon Tongue beans and black krum tomatoes, anything to bring a little color to my dinner table works for me! I start the seeds in bathroom Dixie cups in the house in the end of February. Normally it’s tomatoes, peppers, herbs and then a few random flowers. These won’t all fit in my garden so I will pass them out to family and neighbors too.
Around this time is also when I plant all of my cold crops. Cold crops are the veggies that can withstand the cold or even snow; lettuce, snow peas, etc…
My wonderful husband Brad made me all of the raised beds for the garden. He does all the hard labor at the beginning of the season. He roto-tills the garden and adds the manure and compost along with being the “structural engineer” for the garden itself.
When all that is done, I step in and take over. It is time to clean up and get the garden ready to go!
Here is what I do to help keep the weeds down. In the beginning of the season, I weed everything as much as I can. This usually takes me a full day or two. When that hell is over, I line all the aisles with newspaper and wet it all down so it sticks to itself. Follow that with hay to keep the paper from blowing away. It looks really nice but it also serves a very important purpose. Weeding an overgrown huge garden is the worst!
When the garden is weeded and cleaned up from the winter, it is time to start planting! Around here in Philadelphia, planting your summer crops is always on Mother’s Day weekend. The fear of frost is gone so the plants will be able to survive. The vegetables I always plant are tomatoes, lettuce, all varieties of peppers, green beans, red and golden beets, cucumbers, squash, zucchini and onions. I have tried a bunch of other crops too but these are the ones that I have stuck with for the past 4 years.
From May to the end of September, I am picking, weeding, cooking and preserving. It is hard work but some of the best kind of work! I have tons of awesome recipes for veggies from the garden so stay tuned!