Last year, we weren't around for most of May because we were in Singapore. We left just as the garden was starting to take off, and because of that, we are especially happy we stuck around this time to see our plants growing by leaps and bounds. Here's a look at what's been making me smile all day :)
Zach with trays of loose-leaf lettuce. We made ourselves a little salad "bar" with lettuce, kale, pepper cress, spinach, arugula, and pea shoots. All these plants have relatively shallow roots, so we are growing them in trays that came with our other planters. By staggering the planting, we've been able to have a steady supply of salad!
The herbs are growing slowly but steadily. We have a great supply of cilantro but are currently struggling with the parsley. We also got tired of waiting on our Chinese chives (also known as garlic chives) so the one we have is a transplant.
|top row (L to R): silver thyme, chives, dill|
middle row: (L to R): cilantro, lettuce leaf basil, thai "Siam Queen" basil
bottom row (L to R): oregano, Italian flat leaf parsley, Chinese chives
Swiss chard of the "Bright Lights" variety. It's been fun to see these grow. So far, no pests. I hope they stay that way. If you have a great recipe that calls for swiss chard, please email us! We need ideas!
The biggest change in the garden this month took place in our raised bed. We harvested a round of veggies, pulled up whatever had bolted, and tilled in the rest. We then planted eight pepper plants -- two chocolate peppers, one purple pepper, one yellow pepper, one red pepper, one green pepper, and two shishito that we started from seeds.
And then there are carrots. Two different kinds -- tender sweets and little fingerlings. Right now, all we see are the bushy tips. I need to read up on how to know when to harvest.
We are growing four tomato plants, half the number we had last year. Since the sweet baby girls did so well for us last summer, we decided that we needed two more of those this year. We also have a roma and a bush hybrid champion. Tomatoes are such great plants to have around. Summer time would not feel right if we didn't have some fresh tomatoes to harvest!
Mints. We use the orange and peppermint variety to infuse water. It is hard for me to drink 8 glasses of water a day but when we have infused water, I can drink a gallon! Mint has good amounts of antioxidants and when you drink it infused in water, it helps with digestion too.
|top row: orange mint (L), peppermint (R)|
bottom row: cat mint from Zach's mom (L), Vietnamese mint, also known as laksa leaves (R)
One of our goals for the garden this year, is to grow as many of the "dirty dozen" vegetables as we can. So even though I had read that it is hard to grow celery, we are being adventurous and giving it a shot.
We have significantly increased our number of fruiting trees and shrubs. Our blueberries, raspberry bush, and strawberries are at least two years old now, and they finally have fruits on them! Now we just have to make sure the birds don't get to them before we can! We also acquired an improved meyer lemon tree and are trying to grow watermelons vertically. Our greatest surprise has to be our dwarf mandarin peach tree. We weren't expecting any fruits, but it looks like there are going to be at least a dozen!
|top row (L to R): raspberry bush, blueberry, strawberry|
bottom row (L to R): watermelon seedling, peach tree, improved meyer lemon
Flowers! I am so happy we decided to grow some flowers this year. We have a great collection of violets and pansies, a colorful mix of snapdragons, some begonias and double impatiens for the shade, and marigolds as pest prevention for our tomato plants! We have plans to add a basket of red petunias in the coming weeks because I've been spotting hummingbirds in the garden ...
|top row (L to R): pansies and violets, snapdragons, begonia|
middle row (L to R): french marigold, some other kind of marigold (whose name I forget), white double impatiens
bottom row (L to R): blue sky salvia, lavender, "opal innocence" nemesia
And speaking of flowers, we also have some nasturtiums (golden moon and peach melba). I feel bad admitting that we only have these because we are using them as aphid baits.
If it sounds like I am paranoid about bugs, slugs, insects, and worms living off my plants, it's because I am. Zach can attest that I spent two agonizing days organizing our garden. I read extensively about companion planting, and was trying to place friendly plants next to each other while keeping the hostile ones at a distance. I thought I had succeeded, but then this happened ...
Our blue lake bush bean plants, that I had affectionately dubbed "Mr. Strong Bean" and "Mr. Even Stronger Bean" succumbed to nasty leaf miners and flea beetles. We pulled them up immediately. I was keen to start a new batch but Zach decided we are done with beans for now. We'll try beans again next year. In the meantime, we are going to continue working away in the garden. I know this has been an excessively long post. Thank you for reading!
p.s. here's my May mini garden update
p.p.s. here's our garden back in April