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Naturally Curious


Expanding the Backyard Garden

Raised Garden Beds, Spring 2022

I have been gardening to some extent for the past 15 years. We have moved a few times, so I have had rectangular gardens in the backyard and have done potted gardens. For the past few years, we have had two raised gardens. I have enjoyed it, but I'm somewhat of an unruly gardener, as you'll see. I did end up pruning my tomato plants, but that wasn't until July. I have a very hardy sorel plant that took over about ¼ of the garden last year.

My husband and I wanted to expand the garden for several reasons. However, that will require discipline (mostly on my part). He builds the garden beds and fills them with soil and compost. I do the planting and maintenance.

I did some pickling and made tomato sauce last year. I to do more canning this year. It may even come in handy someday (you never know what will happen with the economy). My primary focus in the past has been tomatoes, herbs, lettuce, and zucchini/squash. I've also had cucumbers, peas, kale, arugula, etc.

Tomatoes, Summer 2021

This year I am trying my hand at companion planting and expanding our vegetables. We now have four raised garden beds and two raised herb gardens. I will try broccoli (already seeing signs of problems!), cabbage, cauliflower, peas, beans, tomatoes, tomatillos, carrots, parsnips, kale, radishes, onions, and shallots. I also mixed in alyssum, marigolds, sunflowers, and sage, where there are suggested companion plants. We will see how that goes, and I'll write more about that later.

Herbs are my favorite. I planted mint (in a pot because it takes over everything), thyme, dill, cilantro, culantro (almost looks like dandelion but tastes fantastic and is the first time I have planted it), a few varieties of rosemary, basil, lavender, sorel, and chives. I'm hungry just thinking about using them in our dinners.

I have three mini-greenhouses on our back porch for starter seeds. They are all blooming. I also planted seeds directly in the gardens. So far, this spring has been significantly warmer than last year. We had frost into Memorial Day weekend last year. This past week and the forecast for next week will be above 50 degrees at night. Fingers crossed, we are past the frost!

To make this all work, I have to do things differently. My husband built me a trellis system. That will require more pruning this year and early in the growing season. I also want to take advantage of multiple plantings for the lettuce, carrots, radishes, peas, and kale. We did that last year, but I think we were late in the growing season. We harvested the tiniest carrots late last fall. They were delicious but not enough even to make a side dish.

We live close to Lake Erie, so we have a short growing season. Next year, I need to start our greenhouse growing much earlier in the season. I've already learned a lot this year because I have spent more time researching and watching YouTube videos on the best methods to optimize your garden. I know I have a long way to go, but I plan to enjoy the journey.

Unruly Garden, Summer 2021

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