This post is at the request of my dear friend Plato, fellow gardener, poet, and blogger. I have also provided links to various recipes that I have made using these beauties.
It’s almost time for our big trip back home to the northwoods. It’s been a long time since I lived in a place with year around gardening climate and I took full advantage of our stay in San Diego. It is probably the very best place to grow vegetables of all kinds. Great weather and abundant sunshine. Water is a problem, of course. I set up drip irrigation and it worked out quite well. If I were a permanent resident here, I would definitely look into in gray water drip irrigation system. I used a planting calendar from UC Extension.
And a shout-out to my local neighborhood garden center. Armstrong Garden Center is an employee owned enterprise with terrific customer service and a fantastic array of products. Sometimes I just want to curl up in one of their outdoor aisles among flowers and plants and lay there until I die.
I cannot even begin to describe what gardening means to me and how much it gives me. It would not even be wrong to say that gardening makes me a better person. It grounds me to the earth. As a very cerebral person in a cerebral job, gardening reminds me that I am of the earth. It forces me to pay attention to something outside of my head and nurture the stuff of life. Having fresh, delicious vegetables or beautiful flowers is a nice side bonus.
Things I grew
Double Green Thumbs
- Tomatoes – super successful, we haven’t bought tomatoes at all since last May. Here is a recipe for quinoa tomato pulav. And quinoa balls in tomato sauce. And a fresh tomato-cucumber bruschetta recipe
- Okra – super success, although once the weather cooled off, the game was over. Thank goodness for the local Indian grocery store.
- Eggplant – same as okra, abundant harvest just from four plants until December.
- Cucumber – fantastic for summer. I made many a salad, raita, refrigerator pickle, and kootu. I even posted a recipe with my cucumber.
- Cauliflower: I grew two types, regular white and purple heirloom. Easy to grow from seed. Protect from slug. Cauliflower recipe here
- Radish – easy to grow from seed and in containers, does not require a deep container. Wonderfully fresh and delicious in salads. Viyan loves it in salad, so a real bonus
- Lettuce: Needed protection from sun and heat. Growing them in containers made it easy to move them to safety when necessary. We haven’t bought any lettuce since October.
- Mustard greens – great, easy and successful. I must post my recipe for Sarson ka sag. I can eat it every day for the rest of my life if necessary with no complaints.
- Swiss chard – beautiful in containers. I have posted a recipe with my swiss chard.
- Spinach – I love spinach and so I never let it bolt. Haven’t bought spinach also in months. I have posted more than one recipe cooked with my spinach. One more.
- Beets – not too successful but good enough. I loved the young leaves in a salad as well. I have a recipe for a fake bruschetta and a beet-lentil salad.
- Potatoes – I have a separate post on it. It was pure adventure. We have a recipe for what we call Famous Potatoes that I must post sometimes.
- Red and green onions – wonderful cannot-kill plants. Even the darkest thumbs can try these. I used my red onions in the lentil pulav I made recently. I regrow my green onions in water multiple times.
- Celery – I love celery for soups, stirfrys and in green juice.
- Kohlrabi – my first time and I love the vegetable. Easy to care for. I know I have a recipe with the kohlrabi.
- Green peas – requires tender care but so worth it especially because Viyan loves to snack on them.
- Fava and green beans – abundant harvest. Some care required. Next time I would plant them in the ground for nitrogen purposes.
- Ghost and habenaro pepper – easy, wonderful.
- Fenugreek – I use it a lot in Indian cooking. If you like it, easy, go to the Indian grocery, buy the seeds, toss them in the ground, sprinkle water and watch them grow. Very, very easy to grow. Fenugreek is wonderful for milk production you are a nursing mother. And I think, beer too. Each to her own.
- Herbs – basil, oregano, mint, tarragon, cilantro (plant them deep). My last year’s find was orange thyme which I absolutely loved. Successful herb gardener, I be.
- Butternut squash – failed attempt due to travel, still I got a couple.
- Cabbage – I think it is too expensive to grow from a plant. I would try from seed.
- Broccoli – excellent harvest but expensive to grow up from saplings especially when the local farmers markets are full of fresh ones. I would try from seeds the next time. I must post my broccoli in cheese sauce recipe.
- Strawberries – yum, yum. Plant them with onions and no slugs will attack. But never leave them alone with your partner/spouse who could kill them (inadvertently of course) especially when they are laden with baby fruits that you were so looking forward to when you were away.
You black thumb, you!
- Brussel sprouts – utter failure. I should have started them way earlier. Viyan and I love brussel sprouts. Here is a great recipe for roasted brussel sprouts and black beans salad. Outrageously delicious. You must try it.
- Spaghetti squash – total failure due to travel neglect
My tips for a successful garden
- Have a green thumb. I am kidding. You can have a green thumb if you are willing to get on your knees and pray to the plants. Become a friend of your plants. In fact, I would encourage you to be their best friend. Then they will tell you their secrets before the secrets become dangerous to their health and wellbeing. Much like raising children.
- Good soil. I know a lot of people get their soil tested etc. I didn’t. Again, my green thumb helps.
- Weed proactively.
- Mulch, mulch, mulch. Especially in water-starved places, this is very important.
- I used a good organic plant food which was very effective.
- We have snails in the yard. I cannot bring myself to kill another living being, so I used to pick them up in my little garden shovel or a spoon and relocate them in the canyon until I discovered a snail poison for the perimeter which worked really well as a repellent. I didn’t see any snails in my garden after I started using it.
- I use a neem oil pesticide spray for all my plants. Perfect, organic, safe option.
- Really, pay attention to your plants and weather forecast. Harvest your greens before they bolt and stuff like that. Your plants will thank and reward you with abundance.
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