Monday, May 30, 2011


Gardening has always been something I've enjoyed. I'm not a huge fan of bugs, but I love having fresh vegetables in the house. However, because of the temperatures around here and the fact that we've had frost in June, gardening can be a tricky business. There's no guaranteed best time to put in a garden; you simply have to wait until it's warmed up.

It's warmed up. And by warm, I mean, 90 degrees, hot, sticky, and humid. Summer takes it's sweet time getting here, but when it arrives, it arrives with a vengeance.

So today I tagged along with my parents while they went shopping, and we went to a greenhouse to get some plants. In previous years, all that's ever done well in our vegetable garden has been tomatoes and squash, despite me and my mom's best efforts to grow peppers, eggplant, pumpkins, and watermelon. One year we did have a huge amount of snow peas, which were delicious, but because we had to wait so long to plant our garden, decided not to grow them this year. So this year, I decided that since squash and tomatoes were all that really did well, that was what I was going to grow. We bought two tomato plants (any more and we can't use them fast enough, they all go bad), four cherry tomato plants, zucchini and summer squash. And because we just can't pass up an opportunity to try something knew (and because my dad wanted to see if we could grow it), we also bought some acorn squash.

We brought the plants home, and I began weeding out the garden and then planting. By the time I finished I was hot, sweaty, covered in dirt, and in desperate need of a cold shower, but the garden looks pretty good. Sure, the tomato plants are completely dwarfed by their cages at this point, but they'll grow fast, and if last summer is anything to judge by, the zucchini is going to go wild. And my less-is-more philosophy seems to be catching on; my mom looked over the garden and agreed, "That's plenty of vegetables for the summer," and my dad agreed.

One place that I have been letting myself buy and grow almost anything has been with herbs. A few months ago, a woman who has an herbal tea business came and spoke at our library, and I found it really interesting, so I've been wanting to enlarge our selection of herbs and experiment with using them in new ways. I've already started, making an iced tea from lemon balm and pineapple mint that was surprisingly potent despite the fact that the leaves barely colored the water, and today I picked up oregano, rosemary, and spearmint to add to our garden. I'd like to try growing chamomile and ginger, but I'm pretty sure I'd have to start the chamomile from seed and ginger can't tolerate cold so I'd have to bring it inside. However, I'm definitely going to keep working to build up a sizable herb garden, and I'll continue to post updates on how it goes and how I'm using the herbs, in teas or recipes.

Off to relax in the air-conditioning, after being outside all day...

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