Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Recap of the First Year

So it all began over a pot of tea in December of 2005. J. had just moved from Atlanta and was living in an apartment just down the road from me. She was happy to be in Asheville but complaining that living in an apartment she didn't even have ground for a tomato plant... Me, I commiserated that while I had plenty of land to garden, I had no energy to get it started. We decided to pool our time and resources to get a garden going together.
We made our lists of what we wanted to grow and ordered seed from the Cooks Garden Seed Company in short order. By February we started our seeds...tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, was SO exciting!
We spread
4' X 4' squares of old carpet out on the lawn to begin killing the grass. On Easter Sunday we rented a tiller and had a tilling party. We tilled a 47' X 24' area right out in the front yard. As well as a large bed to plant the strawberry plants I had gotten on Freecycle!
There was a post on Freecycle that week by a woman who said that she was tired of the weeding and up-keep on her strawberry bed and would someone please come and dig them up!
Well I got about 75 June-bearing plants. They transplanted well and are thriving.
We also planted our first 25 Asparagus crowns. Following instructions in one of our many gardening books, we prepared our asparagus bed deep to really establish healthy plants. As I planted each crown I said, "You will feed my family for the next 20 years! Thank you!" There was a real sense of ritual in planting asparagus. I had read that Thomas Jefferson's Asparagus Beds were still producing! That is inspiring.
So in the end we had 50 tomato plants and had an amazing harvest. The frozen and dried tomatoes fed us throughout the winter and until the harvest began again! We had lots of peppers and even a good crop of eggplants. The seeds from Cooks Garden were great. They offer great mixes of seed variety packs so we were able to grow a wide variety of both sweet and hot peppers without having to purchase lots of seed to get the variety. I really like that.
By the end of that first season I had planted 5 blueberry bushes: Patriot, Jersey and Bluecrop. We did battle with the rabbits and a few ground hogs, installed a fence and I built a number of raised beds. I also accidentally got an extended season....growing well into the winter with kale, arugula, swiss chard and a few hardy lettuce varieties. I still had these things growing and used some row covers to keep them going. We had greens from the garden all winter-long.

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