Gardening in my yard

by Danny Zawacki

Gardening is easy when you have a plot of land to do it. For years, I was stuck container gardening. It worked, but it wasn’t perfect. Last year I even went and bought a Garden Tower because I won a decent discount on one. I wanted to build a garden tower for much cheaper, but we had a neighbor who complained about how ugly it would have been. Anyway, container gardening just doesn’t produce the quality plants that good old-fashioned soil does.

View of half the garden

View of half the garden

This year, I tried to start small and see what worked and what didn’t work. I put in the following plants:

  • Tomatoes
  • Leeks
  • Garlic
  • Potatoes
  • Chocolate Peppers
  • Orange Bell Peppers
  • Kale
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Squash
  • Poblano Peppers
  • Muskmelon
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Beets
  • Beans
  • Tobacco

Not everything that I planted has come up or has lived.  Those that didn’t come up are: Muskmelon and beans. Those that haven’t lived are: Beets, Beans, and Tobacco. We’ve had a decent amount of rain, so a lack of watering isn’t at fault. Some of it also is that half my garden is heavily shaded and not all plants put in there like that.

The house also came with a very established grape-vine. I need to work on a better system for growing the vine because it’s taking over my garden. But we’ll have plenty of grapes this year and Ellie and I might have to take up wine making (we have a hunch that they’re wine grapes because there’s a shelf in the basement labeled “’97, Not ready yet”). We’d rather they’d be good grapes for making jelly or compote.

Grape vine

Grape vine

Also, on the property line there’s a few black raspberry plants which are a year or two on in their growth and I’m trying to cultivate them into hearty plants. We had black raspberry plants growing up at my parents and they’re better than raspberries and black berries in my opinion. This year we’ll only get a few handfuls though.

Our neighbor has strawberries overtaking her front lawn. We were walking one evening and she asked if we wanted any plants. She dug up 7 or 8 for me right on the spot. I transplanted them and I think I only lost two plants. We haven’t gotten any berries out of them yet, but I’m hoping they’ll produce and if not the there is always next year. It’s nice having yet another variety of fruit coming out of our yard.

Chocolate Pepper

Chocolate Pepper

The list of things growing goes on and on. I haven’t completely abandoned my container gardening. In some cases, it’s essential to keep the plants going. In particular, I have a coffee plant and two lemon trees I’m trying to grow to the point where we can get some berries off the coffee plant and lemons off the two trees. They’re both probably a ways off, but all three plants have thrived this year outside. Previously, I kept them clinging to life in my greenhouse. For our cold winters, they’ll be moved under the grow lights in the basement.

And finally, I haven’t forgotten about the garden tower. Ellie and I made the conscious decision this year to focus it on herbs. We only had so-so luck with it last year. Some things grew really well and others didn’t. I’ve since come to the conclusion that it was because of not enough water. This year I’ve soaked it once a week and the plants are just drinking it up. We’re also using it for composting like we did last year. I’ve pulled out all the compost I put in last year and it’s just gorgeous, organic fertilizer. In the garden tower this year, Ellie and I have planted the following:

  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Basil plants (two varieties)
  • Oregano
  • Mojito mint
  • Sage
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary

Ellie also told me she bought a few more herbs today, but she didn’t mention which ones yet. I’ll find out later today.

Finally, in the same container I had luck in last year, I have some transplant tobacco plants which are thriving. I was nervous to put them outside because they had exclusively been grown in the greenhouse and then the basement. I thought they would go into shock and I’d lose all my tobacco crop for this year. It looks like I’ll have a similar harvest about what I did last year. However, this year I’ll take better precautions to prevent the batch from being consumed by mold like it did with last year’s batch.

Squash, with kale, peas, and tomatoes in the background

Squash, with kale, peas, and tomatoes in the background

All said and done, I think we’ll have a good year for the garden. It was a rush job this year. I didn’t want to start any plants from seeds because we knew we would be moving. And then after we moved in, I had to reclaim the garden. It was covered in weeds and the thickest patch of burdock I’ve ever seen. I’m still doing my best to rehab the garden. I have some plans to further improve the soil and keep the weeds at bay, all naturally, of course.