April 24, 2009

Introducing: our first veggie of 2009

A few days ago, we were concerned that our asparagus bed wasn't going to produce at all. Yesterday we were seeing little hints of greenish white poking through the soil and today we have a few lovely spears. The 80 degree days and rain have really helped. Now it will be wet and cold for a few days.

This is our third year with this bed so we will harvest lightly. I ate one raw while I was working in the yard. There is something special about munching veggies while still out in the garden. Although asparagus is great raw, I would also love it if you have any good recipes to share.

April 22, 2009

Urban Garden Project

The Urban Garden Project is relatively new but I find it to be a great resource. They have had interesting posts and great "how-to" videos for projects. Their goal is to encourage and catalog the creation of 100,000 urban gardens by 2020. If this sounds at all interesting to you, I recommend checking out their blog.

We started gardening in 2002 with the goals of seeing how much of our food needs can be met from our gardens and reducing the amount of grass we grow. It has been a fun project that was greatly helped by turning over our backyard to raised bed gardens. Soon after we moved in to this house, we decided that a small scraggly patch of weeds/lawn directly in front of the house was not worth the effort of trying to grow grass. We dug it up and planted red currants, alpine strawberries and flowers. One of the fun parts of it has been the red currant wine we make each year. This years red currant strawberry wine has been a real treat. Definitely an improvement over lawn which I suspect does not make a good wine.

Next we turned our sights across the sidewalk to our good sized front yard. It would be a bit unusual in our neighborhood to use it all as a garden so we have taken this slowly. At first my husband reluctantly agreed to a few feet of garden next to the front sidewalk. This small garden has taken off and creeps forward a foot or so every year. It has a variety of flowers in addition to ground cherries, lemon balm, sage, thyme and lovage. This summer I'm ready to add some marigolds, dill and rosemary.
I was out working in the front yard gardens today and it is great to see many plants growing already. The loveage and chives are doing well and I harvested some of both that I will make into a salad dressing tonight. My seed starting has gone well too and the marigolds are just waiting for our last frost date before making their appearance out in the gardens.

Writing about this garden brings me back to the Urban Garden Project. They had an interesting post on Front Yard Gardening in case you are thinking of giving up the lawn. If this sounds interesting to you, you are already lawnless or even if you plan to keep your lawn, I would love to read your comments here.

April 10, 2009

Growing potatoes

Do two people really need 20# of seed potatoes? Apparently my husband and I believe that we do! Last year we grew Purple Viking and they were very good. They made especially tasty mashed potatoes but we enjoyed them roasted over the fire pit as well. We ran out of them in January but they stored that long fairly well. We also planted some Russets. We hadn't planned on that but our co-op had some on sale that were sprouting so we grew those too.

This spring we will plant Carola, Adora, Mountain Rose and Rose Finn Apple along with Purple Viking. It sure looks like a lot of potatoes to grow in a small area but it works well. Last year we used five Smart Pots and a 4x4 raised bed for potatoes planted in a mixture of leaves, grass and soil. We hilled more of the same mix on top as they grew. We really liked the Smart Pots because we just had to pour them into the wheelbarrow at harvest time. The russets were planted right into the soil in one garden and then hilled with more soil later.

I know that spuds are cheap at the grocery store but there are so many fun varieties to try that we will only get by growing our own. Next year 30# of seed potatoes?

April 5, 2009


What a difference a few hours makes. I worked the night shift, went for a snowy bike ride this morning then went to sleep. I woke this afternoon to SPRING, or at least what passes for spring here. I went for another short ride. It just feels great to be back to outdoor riding. The picture was taken with the nearby Chippewa River in the background. Not even a hint of snow was left on the ground. I also made it out to the gardens to continue preparing the raised beds and listen to the birds singing. A good day!


Just another beautiful spring day. Looks like a great time for a bike ride! Maybe I better bring out the mountain bike tires again. I thought I could retire them for the season. Well at least the snow is likely to be gone by later today. That is the best thing about spring snows.

After a short ride, it's nice to head down to the basement to check on the seed starting projects. The dill, parsley and basal look great. It is still about 5 weeks til our last frost date but it is nice to see some green. I hope things are a little more springlike in your neck of the woods!

April 1, 2009

We have a plan!

It snowed overnight, the skies are gray and the temps are in the upper 30's. Not a great day to work outside but nice for planning and dreaming.
Gardening and yard work became much more fun once we decided to reduce the amount of lawn we have and add raised beds. However, I have been too busy with school to really use our gardens to their full potential. This summer will be my first in a while without homework so I am planning on really having fun with gardening. We especially enjoy growing fruit and vegetables. Here are the areas we have to work with. I hope to report much tasty success with this years projects:

The Fenceline Garden: Has wild blue lupine, lovage, red currants, black currants, blueberries, raspberries, ground cherries and rhubarb. With a little luck I will get some butterfly weed to survive and thrive next to the lupine plants. I also plan to add some coral honeysuckle.

The Triangle Garden: is new and will have raspberries planted along with miscellaneous vegetables.

The sunny part of the 4 Tree Garden has elderberries, raspberries, lovage and horseradish and I will plant swiss chard. The rest will be ferns and other shade lovers.

The Postage Stamp behind the deck has hollyhocks, bee balm and false dragonhead.

The middle of the yard is our raised bed gardens. The blue squares and rectangles represent what we already have. The purple shapes are on my “dream list”. I’m told by my builder/husband that they will appear late this summer or next year.

The diagram is a little rough and not to scale but it gives some idea of what we are working with. We also have 2 garden areas in our front yard. Overall, we don’t have a lot of space to work with but it is not bad for an in town property I guess. I can’t wait to post the tally of this years crops. The hardest areas to work with have been the shady spots. They still need work but have been a nice cool place to escape to during a warm day of yard work.

Thanks for visiting!