I grew up hearing that one shouldn’t plant a garden until after Mother’s Day because of the threat of frost, but this year it was impossible to wait that long. As these pictures confirm, I wasn’t the only one eager to put seeds in the ground at the Willie Streeter Community Garden.
This year I am keeping a little notebook with diagrams of what is planted, where, and when. Green and wax beans take the prize for their speed in breaking through the soil. Now if I can just keep the bean beetles out of the patch! (Last year there seemed to be thousands of them. I’m sure they told their friends, “Hey, this plot is very inviting, why don’t you join us!”) Other gardeners take delight in sharing recipes for non-toxic solutions to the bean beetle, and I may give them a try, but last year nothing seemed to work and I spent hours picking them off the plants. It’s a good thing I enjoy being outside!
Onions also have done very well this spring, their green stalks rising up to meet the sun. In some garden plots the lettuce is almost ready for the table, but mine will have to wait a bit longer. When I was a child I hated garden lettuce with its frilly green leaves drenched in home-made dressing. We only grew one kind, nothing fancy for us, no Arugula, spinach or buttercrunch. Now I’ve come up in the world and we’re not only growing all of these, but we also have a salad spinner. It makes eating a healthy diet so much easier.
When people hear that we have a garden, they often ask what we’ve planted. It feels rather pedestrian to tell the truth–beans, tomatoes, beets, radishes, lettuce, squash, onions, and herbs. To change things up a little, we planted some kale this year, but that’s probably last year’s trendy crop. Oh well, everyone says kale chips taste great and are full of vitamins. Last week I also picked up a package of heirloom tomatoes from the garden shed. I know, they should have been started weeks ago, but there’s still a long growing season ahead. A friend grew them last year, gnarly and odd-colored, but meaty and infinitely delicious.
Last year the plot next to ours remained untouched, so we volunteered to use it as part of the “Plant a Row for the Hungry” program. Items grown go to Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, a local organization whose mission is to increase “access to healthy food for all people in need in ways that cultivate dignity, self-sufficiency, and community.” What a positive program for our community. Later this summer a cooler will appear in our garden shed where gardeners can deposit produce they wish to donate.We could do it that way, but I really enjoy taking the beans, tomatoes, squash, and other items to Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, having them weighed, and seeing “the Hub” filled with people eager to eat veggies. It’s one of life’s little miracles, taking a garden plot, planting, harvesting, and seeing people walking out the door with bags full of red, orange, green, and yellow produce.
Happy gardening, everyone!