Watch My Garden Grow

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I can’t believe it’s already the end of July. The summer is passing in front of my eyes and I’m not even sure where the days are going; I’ve been juggling additional fact-checking work at the magazine I copy edit for with trying to be outdoors as much as possible, squeezing in time for family (my grandparents just visited from Florida) and friends (we had a board game day, a restaurant-week dinner, Todd’s coworkers’ wedding, and a trip to Mystic, CT). And of course, I’ve also been gardening.

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Garden haul, early July 2017

This year we wanted to focus more on veggies, less on herbs, and so far we’ve been pretty successful (though our lettuce hasn’t been as abundant as in past years, possible because we started them from seed rather than buying the already semi-grown plants sold in Home Depot like we normally do. My dad rigged up a growth lamp in the garage, and it was a lot of fun to watch them sprout up a little more each week; unfortunately, that process also left them a little weak and they’ve been struggling to produce.

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Lettuce (far left), with various herbs, peppers, and beans in the beds, and cucumbers and squash climbing along the top.

I also think we may have gone a little overboard on squash. We love to roast and grill the butternut squash our garden produces every year, and this year we tried some other varieties as well, like yellow summer squash and orange-y crook-neck squash. In fact, I just picked a crook-neck this morning and am planning to make crisps out of it—that’s my healthier alternative to snack on potato chips!

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A still-growing butternut squash

We also have cucumber, which I’ll use a bit later today in a tomato-watermelon gazpacho, eggplant (though they haven’t fully matured yet), peppers (accidentally bought hot banana peppers instead of mild—eek!), tomatoes (the yellow cherry tomatoes are coming along best; our bigger plants seem to be yellowing for some reason), snap peas and green beans, and some kind of fuzzy bean that must have been mislabeled when I bought the plants. I could have sworn that sprout was a Japanese eggplant when I planted it! And don’t forget our fruits: strawberries, blueberries (though they refuse to ripen; I have to research why), and blackberries (we didn’t get as many this year as in past years).

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Garden bounty, picked this morning!

I also have a pumpkin plant, which is really stretching its roots along the backyard fence. I know it’s a long shot, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a little pumpkin in the fall.

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My pumpkin patch

 

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Spring/Summer Garden 3.0

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My very first backyard garden originated from a desire to eat locally, to self-sustain in some small way. Growing primarily herbs and a few tomato plants, I discovered a love for gardening; few activities left me as centered as digging my hands into the dirt or plucking leaves I knew I would cook with later. Last year’s garden saw the addition of a lettuce bed, which really flourished throughout the spring and well into the summer. I loved taking salads made with backyard lettuce to work for lunch, especially if I could also include some ripe homegrown tomatoes.

This year, for my third garden, I’ve followed last year’s layout—lettuce in the shady bed, herbs in the sunnier planter. But I did move all of my veggies to the side of the house, since it gets much more sun than the backyard. And we have lots more variety in our herbs and veggies this year! To help me grow them successfully, I plan to resume my “Growing My Green Thumb” posts (so far I’ve learned about purple basil, Italian parsley, thyme, and lavender) throughout the spring and summer. But until then, here’s an introductory photo tour of what I’m calling Garden 3.0:

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Lettuce bed.

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A Tour of My New Spring Garden

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I’ve been weeding and planting and nourishing and coaxing for the past several weeks, and now I’ve taken the first photos of this year’s garden. To my surprise, some of the herbs from last year’s garden grew back on their own—and the thyme persevered throughout the entire winter beneath the snow! Others I discovered at Home Depot and knew I had to try out, like chocolate mint and swiss chard (one of my absolute favorite leaves to use in a salad).

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Exploring New York: The Bronx Botanical Garden Orchid Show

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I’ve been so busy planning for my move into the apartment downstairs with Todd in May and getting back into my editing career that I haven’t had much time to blog lately. But I did squeeze in a trip to the Bronx Botanical Garden, located only one convenient mile from my house. Once there, I saw that the orchid show was in full swing. I had never visited the collection in the past; why pay $25 just to see orchids in the conservatory, I wondered, when the rest of the grounds offered plenty of flowers and exhibits for free? But with the sun shining, the temperature inching toward 80 degrees, and the poem The Orchid Flower by Sam Hamill in my mind, I decided to just pay up and find out what all of the fuss is about—and I don’t regret that decision one bit.

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Restaurant Review: Moon Star Grill in Riverdale

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One of my best friends has lived in many places, including Mexico, Oregon, and Chicago. Luckily for me, she’s back in New York for a while—and that means we get to try out a ton of great restaurants together. This weekend, Todd joined us for dinner at an Asian-fusion gem, Moon Star Grill, in Riverdale, New York. This sleek spot features high-quality Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, and Japanese offerings in a setting so friendly and serene that we lingered much longer than planned, sipping hot Jasmine tea and nibbling on chilled pineapple chunks.

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My Garden, One Month Later

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On June 12, one month had passed since I last updated you on my garden, just after planting. I spent part of this weekend weeding and pruning and watching and watering. Then I blended some purple basil (1 cup), Italian parsley (1 cup), and thyme leaves (0.5 cup) with olive oil (1.5 cup), vinegar (0.5 cup), lemon juice squeezed from half of a lemon, and a teaspoon of sugar to make a tangy yet flavorful salad dressing. Later, I helped my dad plant some more seedlings he found in the shed; I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if they grow. For now, I offer you a mini photo tour in celebration of my garden’s one-month birthday.

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