I'm fortunate enough to have a pretty sunny backyard with few squirrels and other hungry pests. The majority of my gardening work consists of weeding, watering, and generally keeping a good eye on my garden every day. I used some landscaping fabric and hearty mulch this year in the hopes of reducing the number of weeds to be pulled... we'll see how well these efforts pan out.
And for those of you who don't have a yard or have to deal with neighborhood pests, I highly suggest bringing the garden inside. Container gardens can add some lovely color and life to your windowsills. Plus, they keep the goodness coming at harvest time and are pretty low-maintenance as long as you keep an eye on them.
So here's a little tour of my backyard garden. Last year was the first time I ever managed a full-on vegetable garden entirely on my own, so I'm still in the process of learning from my mistakes (ie. failure to adhere to recommended distances when spacing plants) and successes (growing my own arugula!).
In the hopes of diminishing the number of weeds that jump from my neighbor's yard into my garden, I've lined the space with bricks. I'm generally into clean lines and such aesthetically so this also creates a nice edge that is very pleasing to the eye.
First up is my herb garden. At the moment it's a little sparse but I'll be transplanting other varieties of herbs (hopefully thyme, sage, oregano, rosemary, and dill) after they serve as wedding centerpieces. For the time being, basil and parsley are the main staples making their way in the garden.
I am stoked about all my lettuces for this year. Last season I tried buttercrunch and arugula, both of which I loved. This year I added some spinach and romaine to the mix. I cannot wait for fresh salads and arugula pesto!
I'm hoping that last year's blueberry bush will yield some real fruit this year. It's looking pretty good so far so I'm crossing my fingers for more positive progress! I've also got a raspberry bush that I'm hoping will do well. It was a $3.00 impulse buy from Walmart so I'm a bit skeptical but I would love some bright and fresh raspberries to add to cereals this summer!
This is the first time I'll be growing string beans, broccoli, and cauliflower. I've harvested string beans while volunteering at a local urban farm so I've got some semblance of an idea of what to expect there. As for the broccoli and cauliflower, I look forward to seeing how they grow!
I'm a huge fan of sweets so I naturally tend toward fruits over vegetables. I've never grown so many fruits before but I'm trying out strawberries this year. I can already see the beginnings of one, so I have high hopes. I just am not sure what to expect in terms of output - any idea how many strawberries a single plant can yield?
Tomatoes are one of the fruits of the season that I most anticipate bringing to harvest. Tomatoes from the backyard are invariably better than the mushy variety sold in supermarkets and cheaper than the farmer's market's heirloom options. Real vine-ripe tomatoes are unbeatable and have high yields all summer long.
Peppers and eggplant are two of my favorite veggies and I love to use them in a whole variety of ways. My peppers weren't entirely successful last year - they never really grew much larger than 4 inches in height. I'm hoping for a more sizable pepper crop for 2011 and I can't wait to prepare some delicious Italian dishes with these two.
To round out the whole garden I've added some long neck squash. Squash seem to be one of the easiest and heartiest plants to grow. Last year I only had one plant but I had more squash than I knew what to do with! Loaf upon loaf of zucchini bread was prepared and popped in the freezer - and we're still working our way through it! Needless to say, I'm anticipating plenty of squash this year. I allowed last year's harvest to grow a few too many days (I had zucchini that were over a foot long!) so I'm planning on keeping a closer eye and plucking these guys as soon as they reach a decent size. And I'm sure they'll provide plenty of opportunities for baking so stay tuned for zucchini bread posts galore!
Do you have a vegetable or herb garden this season? What are you looking forward to harvesting?