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

 

Spring Garden 2017

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The weather is finally getting warmer, and I can’t wait for the 70-degree days predicted later this week. I’ve been getting outside more often. We recently completed our second attempt at the TD five-borough, forty-mile bike tour, ran our favorite chocolate 5k, and visited the Chihuly exhibit at the New York Botanical Gardens (more about all of those in posts to come soon). And just yesterday we finally got in the garden—weeding and pruning and turning the soil and adding a bunch of new little plants that I can’t wait to watch grow!

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We haven’t yet transplanted the ones that dad’s been nursing from seeds because they’re too small, so we saved some space for them in our second planter. We have our usual herbs: sage and lilac and chives and mint that all resurfaced from last year, as well as some sweet basil, purple basil, parsley, cilantro, and dill. This year we really want to have more of a veggie haul, so we focused a bit more on those: snap peas, green beans, red and yellow bell peppers, five varieties of tomato, three types of eggplant (black, white, and Japanese), two types of squash, onions…and watermelon!

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I’m not sure that the watermelon will actually grow very well, but we figured it couldn’t hurt to try. It would be so awesome to have a fresh-from-the-garden watermelon! We’ve also got blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and black raspberries all growing on the side of the house; I’m hopeful that the black raspberry bush will actually start yielding some fruit this year. I’m excited to start taking care of the garden and spending the rest of the spring with my hands in the dirt. And I can’t wait to hear what everyone else is growing this year!

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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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Recipe: Simple and Healthy Flounder Bake

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Because Todd knows that I like to eat healthy foods that are easy to prepare, he recently bought us the Skinnytaste Cookbook, based on the popular blog of the same name. It contains so many delicious recipes that rely on bright vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains.

Now that Lent has arrived and some of us can’t eat meat on Fridays, I want to share a simple fish recipe from theSkinnytaste Cookbook that Todd and I really enjoyed: a broccolini flounder bake. As usual, we modified this version a bit. We cut out the cheese and oregano, added onions and piled on extra tomatoes, and served it over a rice medley.

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My Garden, Almost Two Months Later

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I spent some time weeding and trimming my garden this weekend, and my mom used some of my herbs as seasoning for grilled corn during our Sunday barbecue. I can’t believe how big some of my plants have gotten since I first planted the garden, and even since my one-month update. A couple of plants are even starting to bear some veggies! I wanted to share some pictures of it with you so that you can see how much it has grown in the nearly two months since planting.

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