Sunday, May 8, 2011

Best Garden EVER!

So, I don't really want to brag or anything. And I certainly don't want to tempt fate. But our garden this year RULES. And it's only May! To be truthful, there is like nearly nothing going on in our garden at this point in time...well, except for these completely AWESOME tulips. And all of the other pretty stuff down below. But we are just getting started, and oh ho, I can see the potential!

This year marks our third year in this house with this yard. Or, more to the point, this is our third year as gardeners. Our first year, we got a bunch of books and vigilantly read seed packets. We cringed each time we had to thin a plant ("But that's a future tomato! I don't want to thin the plant down to one strong stalk!") But we got tougher and smarter. We learned about how you should stake a tomato plant BEFORE it gets unwieldy and huge, and we also learned that artichokes will not, under any circumstances, grow in the heat of a Brooklyn summer.

The following year we got married, so while we did plant a garden, we didn't really tend to it at all, and it became the most chaotic mess I've ever seen. An epidemic of a vine called purple bells crawled over every square inch of the yard, which was pretty in the morning when the flowers were open. But, um, wasn't exactly what we intended. To revisit last year's glorious disaster, click here (you'll need to skip past the GIANT cucumbers).

 But this year, we're already doing things better than EVER. Our smartest choice so far has been to not plant all of our flowers from seeds. Instead, we went out to the nursery like normal people and bought flowers that are already flowers. Look! Insta-pretty! We got a ton of dahlias and marigolds and things like that, and now we will be able to tell which are the flower plants and which are the weeds. (That, incidentally, was our number one problem with growing flowers from seed. Everything looks like a weed when it's little!)
The buds on our apple tree (or possibly cherry tree) opened up into these ecstatic white blossoms. The tree is now in its second summer and it is starting to fill out and  look a little bit less wimpy. Well, except for the flowers, of course.
Our tulips are fresh and dewy. (Actually, that's water from the hose. But isn't it nice to think of it covered in morning dew drops?) And behind those tulips is our broccoli plant that came back to life after winter, and which we then let go to seed by accident. (Note to self: eat broccoli quickly.) So what's the deal with broccoli anyway? Is it a perennial, or are we just lucky? Anyone?
 And as an amazing stroke of fortune, our double tulip came back! This tulip made a miraculous appearance last year. ( I believe I described it as a daffodil giving birth to another daffodil.) But what I didn't know is that it must be a genetic thing in the bulb. So, like, as long as I keep this bulb in the ground, it will always come up as a double daffodil. Isn't that fun? I mean, it's like having an old friend...who lives in your yard, in the ground,  and comes out to see you like once a year. Ok, this is starting to sound a little creepy. You know what I mean, though.
Speaking of creepy, we're also growing potatoes this year! A new adventure! I actually first learned about growing potatoes while editing the to-be-published totally amazing book The Bust DIY Guide to Life (in bookstores, fall 2011). I could not believe that the sack of creepy looking old potatoes in my pantry that I've been trying not to think about for the last 6 to 8 weeks can actually be turned into a potato plant. But it's true!
So here's what you do. You get out those creepy old potatoes, with their gnarly tubers and erupting buds, and you cut them up into chunks with at least one tuber/ nub per chunk. Then you fill a bucket or pot (something with drainage holes...we used this old wooden basket) with a few inches of dirt, toss in your potato chunks, and then cover it all with a few more inches of dirt. For the next month or two, keep piling on a few more inches of dirt every week or so, each time a tuber peeks through the soil. When the container is about three-quarters full with dirt, let the plant grow. It's supposed to be pretty! Then in the fall, you can start digging for taters. Supposedly, the top part of the bucket will have the smaller fingerling taters, and the ones on the bottom will be big. Weird, right? You should try it! This is the time to plant them if you want to join me in this adventure.
But to take this back to a classy place, I'd like to leave you with this image of a tulip. Orangey-red tulips are my absolute favorite, and somehow this year, this is the only one. Which makes it, well, a little special. So I hope you enjoy this little peek inside of the one pretty orangey-red tulip. And I also hope you have enjoyed this little peek inside of my backyard. I'm sort of smitten (if you couldn't tell.)


  1. I really, really love the blossoms on the apple tree. Are you really sure that it's an apple tree? Also, that was quite an amazing potato plant in your pantry-- did it speak? momme

  2. I really want to do the potato thing but I fear I'd fail at that, and then feel like an especially big garden loser.


  3. Erin, you can really barely fail at this at all! I nearly failed this week because I let the potato tubers turn into leafy plants, but then I covered them up with dirt and we'll just see what happens. Worst case scenario: you ruin a bag of old potatoes. Not so bad.