This Year’s Vegetable Garden, So Far
I have to admit I don’t do much with edible gardening. Actually, I’m far more interested in growing food for the birds than for people. Generally, I find ornamental perennials, grasses, and shrubs far more satisfying than vegetables. Also, vegetables want space in full sun, which is in limited supply. (Note: all pictures are Judy’s unless otherwise noted.)
To the extent that we do grow edibles, it’s because Judy believes firmly that you can’t have a proper home without some kind of vegetable garden. Also, we like to have fresh herbs for cooking.
And so we have an irregularly triangular plot pointing south, with a south facing trellis for tomato vines at the base. This is in the front yard, behind the bed with the crabapple tree and the Asiatic lilies, which partially blocks the view from the street.
The tomatoes are pretty happy so far. I’m growing just three plants, each a different variety: Celebrity, Early Girl, and Black Cherry (an heirloom cherry tomato). Celebrity is a determinate tomato, meaning that a certain point the vines stop growing. We’ll see.
Because of the cold spring, I waited until May 22, a week after our average frost-free date, to plant the tomatoes. I might have waited longer, as the transplants sulked in the continuing cool weather. Eventually, though, they started to thrive in the plentiful rain and gradually increasing warmth. Right now there are lots of unripe tomatoes, and I don’t think any will be ready to pick for 10-14 days.
Tomatoes are the only actual vegetables that we grow. The remainder of this patch is taken by herbs and a few flowers.
There’s a patch or oregano (Origanum officinalis). In a struggle reminiscent of the Roman legions trying to keep the Germanic tribes from crossing the Rhine, I am constantly whacking the oregano back to prevent it from overrunning the garden and then the entire neighborhood, seizing all our gold and livestock. It does have flowers much loved by pollinators, though (the oregano, not the Germanic tribes).
There’s some sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) and some Thai basil (Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora) . These are the herbs we actually use most frequently. And there are a couple of patches of thyme (Thymus vulgaris) that we don’t use but that provide more food for beneficial insects.
Then there’s the Swallowtail Buffet – Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) , Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) , and Dill (Anethum graveolens). All three are host plants for Swallowtail butterflies, but I have yet to see a single Swallowtail caterpillar. Very thoughtless of them, I say!
There are some flowers, too. Marigolds (Tagetes patula) around the tomatoes, on the theory that they repel harmful nematodes. Also, this year I planted a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) amongst the herbs. I love the bright orange flowers of this plant!
Are you more of an edibles gardener or an ornamentals/wildlife gardener?