What if you could plant a root in the ground, kind of ignore it, and get tasty spears of green goodness from it for years afterward? Well, you can. Asparagus is a perennial vegetable, which means it comes back every year on its own. Once established, an asparagus bed will send up fresh, nutrient-packed shoots with very little work on your part. It's the ideal situation for a lazy gardener!
This is our third year trying earnestly to grow as much food as we can, and it's been our best year yet. Anthony and I have both made a metric ton of mistakes, but we've learned from them. We experiment, measure the results, and change the approach if needed. Now, three years into this food garden thing, we're really starting to get somewhere. Case in point: We've been eating food from the garden nearly every day since the beginning of April 2022. I keep a food journal, and in it I note whether each meal included food from the garden. So 'G' if one meal contained garden food, 2G for two, and 3G if all three meals contained garden produce. Most days since April have clocked in at 2 and 3G's. Speaking of G's, if this spring had a garden star, it would be the greens.
You know that bittersweet feeling you have when you get to the end of your favorite novel, and you're reluctant to leave the beloved world of the novel behind as it ends, but you're satisfied for the experience? I felt the same way when I finished Paige Embry's Our Native Bees.
This year marked the first time we've reached for three full harvests throughout the growing season: early spring, peak summer, and late fall.
Sharing the wonders of nature and a love of gardening with children is easy with Usborne Books & More. A division of Educational Development Corporation that also includes Kane Miller books, Usborne Books & More is a line of titles made available through independent consultants directly to consumers. They are not sold in stores, but through these small business owners. I am one of these small business owners. I became a consultant because I am passionate about spreading literacy to as many families as I can, but also because I truly love these books. My family are avid nature lovers, and I was looking for books that could keep my two young girls engaged and spark in them a love of nature and learning. An Usborne title Peek Inside The Garden got us started on our journey. It is now available in this boxed set with other wonderful titles of the same series. From there it was easy for us to continue building on what our girls had already learned from this first title to so many more available through Usborne Books & More. Here are just a few current titles the children in your life will grow to love.
When we began growing annual vegetables last year, we came to the task with at least some experience, but we certainly had a lot to learn. Still, I'm amazed by how much food we're getting already out of our little 1/4-acre homestead habitat.
We made an unsuccessful attempt to germinate Walla Walla sweets in 2020 - Anthony grew up in 'the city so nice, they named it twice' - but that arid landscape is quite different than our steamy Midwestern climate. I cast around for an onion variety that would work much better here, and you can imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon a variety of perennial onions. Most vegetables, and most onions as well, are annuals, meaning you have to replant them as seeds each year to get a new crop. But perennial onions, also called potato or multiplier onions, are the gift that keeps on giving. You can keep some of the bulbs, replant them each year, and they'll multiply into neat little bunches of more bulbs!
"Take one down, pass it around..." OK, so we didn't exactly begin with 99 bulbs of garlic, but 65 is a lot of garlic bulbs to have on hand. Our basement smells like a pizzeria! We harvested this bumper crop just before the 4th of July: 65 bulbs of 'Silver rose' garlic, a soft-necked variety*, which we had put into the ground on October 31 (ooo, Halloween!). The order had been for 60 cloves to plant, so how we ended up with 65 bulbs at the end is unclear. Maybe there were a few extra in the order? At any rate, we had 100 percent return on our investment in those 60 cloves.
Last year we got a very late start on our vegetable gardening, so we didn't enjoy much of a cool season, outside of some arugula and a heaping supply of chervil. But this year, I was determined to plan things better. Armed with this extremely helpful vegetable planting calendar from Gateway Greening, I updated my sowing schedule, shifting everything earlier.
Let me tell you a weird story about our cat. We had some problems with water seeping through our basement walls. When this happens, the water is muddy. Even if you clean it up, it leaves a very fine silt behind. One place that ended up having a pretty thick layer was behind the furnace. It was out of the way and hard to get to, so it just sort of built up. We fixed our gutters and created a water garden in the backyard. Our roof runoff fills some drums, and then when they overflow, it runs out to the water garden, as does a French drain to draw water away from the basement. After we did that, we haven't had any problems with water in the basement. But that silt just set back there getting dryer and dryer. One day I realized I had not needed to clean the cat's litter box in a while. He seemed OK. He wasn't lethargic. I thought, "Maybe that silly cat is pooping somewhere other than in his litter." I looked and looked and looked and finally found a nice pile of poop behind the furnace in that lovely soft silt. Well, I guess you can't really blame the cat. The silt is a soft as down, and the furnace makes that spot nice and warm. But still I had to clean up the cat poop and then clean up the silt. The cat went back to his liter box and all was well.