It never ceases to amaze me how much the garden grows in only one month. Though it feels like not much has changed in my life—still editing, still wedding planning—my little sprouts have shot upward at an astonishing rate (especially in the case of the corn we planted this year.) I love picking lettuce fresh from the garden for salads, and grilled chicken tastes even more delicious when it’s marinated with olive oil and herbs. The tomatoes are still green, but the strawberries and black raspberries are juicy and sweet. Here are some photos that Dad and I took over the past week.
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:
Along with the usual suspects like pepper, lettuce, basil, and parsley, this summer’s garden featured a new arrival: lavender. Inspired to grow the shrubby perennial after seeing a recipe for lavender-infused cod, I decided that it could be an interesting herb to cook with, bake with, and maybe even use in a homemade soap or perfume. But before I could do anything, I had to learn how to grow it. The plant is flourishing nicely now that the season is winding down, though it doesn’t look quite like the French field below.
A little more than one month ago, I planted herbs and veggies in my backyard garden. Some hardy sprouts from last year returned on their own, like the lemon-scented thyme and flat-leaf parsley. Other favorites needed to be replanted, including purple basil and two pepper plants. I also introduced some new crops: Swiss chard, dill, lavender, plain sage (as opposed to last season’s pineapple sage), cinnamon basil, and three varieties of lettuce.
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).
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.
When sharing some herbs with my friend Beyza today, I realized I didn’t know much about thyme, except that it does best in a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Curious about where the herb originates and what it can be used for, I decided to make it the next garden plant that I would research and learn some facts about. And it turns out that thyme has quite a history!