February 22, 2011 by Leah
Our garden, on which we worked so hard for a brief period of time late last summer, has grown, but not in a spectacular manner. I don’t think the bean plants are ever going to grow beans. There have been mysterious black spots on the plants from the time they were seedlings, and now there are mysterious black spots on the few flowers that form. Some of the bean plants have just dried up and fallen over.
Our carrots have done well, which surprised me since first-time gardeners are supposed to have problems with carrots. I read two gardening books before I embarked on this project, and I liked the one written by an author who was against thinning out plants based on the arcane idea that not thinning plants will allow the strongest to flourish. It does not work this way with carrots. I pulled a few baby carrots the other week and they were packed next to each other so tightly there was literally no room for them to grow. So, I thinned the carrots.
My garlic is also growing well, although the green onions never got out of the ground. The peas have grown great guns since September, but even with two rows of plants, I only get a few pods at a time – enough to throw in a salad. Our chard is looking quite nice, but I have been so inundated with leafy greens thanks to our CSA that I’m holding off on picking the chard until I absolutely have to. Our lettuce is just weird – we’ve been eating it, even though it’s definitely “baby” sized and now it is getting brown spots on the leaves. Our beets tried, but nothing much happened (my cousin who has various degrees in gardening told me it would take three years to get decent beets from clayey soil), and I think I may have a spinach plant masquerading as a lettuce plant but am really not certain.
So. The biggest success as a food crop thus far has been the chard, which I could probably get three meals out of, and yet I don’t want to touch it because we’ve been eating so much chard (and tatsoi and pak choi and beet greens and mustard greens and rutabaga greens and pea shoots and mixed greens and I don’t even know what else) already. The carrots and peas are very tasty, but I want to leave the carrots in the ground as long as possible so they can keep growing. I think the beans and beets are a lost cause. Oh, and the tomatoes and peppers died when it got so cold around Thanksgiving. In better news, the banana tree we thought dead has, surprisingly, rallied. (Fun fact: banana trees aren’t actually trees but are specimens of the world’s largest herbaceous flowering plant, thus their trunks are pseudostems.)
Meanwhile, it is time to start thinking about planting for the new growing season. I hope I’ll find that my plants grow more quickly through the spring and summer than they did through winter’s scaled-back daylight. Aaron and I both think it would be a good idea to dig out another bed to use for spring planting (although I’m wishing we’d just put cardboard over a patch of grass last fall to let it smother and decompose over the winter as that would have been much less work). There’s no reason to rip out our sad winter plants just because we want the new models in the ground.