Our dwarf pomegranate tree
We have big plans this summer. Big garden plans. Big vegetable garden plans. Last year we grew our first outdoor vegetable garden and while it was wonderful it was not nearly as ambitious as we wanted. This year is completely different. We have twice the space, ten times the variety, and big dreams. I thought that because what we cook, eat, and write about this summer (and hopefully this year as we use food we’ve preserved) will be coming from this garden, it would be fun to occasionally give you a look into how things are growing.
The biggest perk (and selling point) of our sometimes painfully small urban apartment is that we have a backyard. And because we live in the garden apartment, we consider this little corner of Baltimore to be the best part of our home (side note: we’ve declared it an embassy of North Carolina). Last year in the little plot we grew pink ponderosa and beefsteak tomatoes, TWO incredibly fruitful habanero plants, cajun jewel okra, eggplant, royal burgandy beans, hot and spicy oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, and a dwarf pomegranate tree. In the fall we planted spinach, arugula, and garlic. We had a lot of problems last year. It was so hot that most of the plants wouldn’t set fruit until early fall, some plants (cough, habanero, cough) way overproduced while others (like okra) put out only one fruit at a time. It was amazing to eat from our own backyard all summer but we learned a lot.
Scarlet Emperor Beans
One of the biggest lessons we took away from last summer was that it didn’t make sense to divide our limited growing space between all the tenets in our building. We live in a 19th century rowhouse in a historic neighborhood, which is split into a number of apartments. We’re lucky in that our housemates are wonderful people. And last summer a few of us had backyard plots and all grew the same thing. Which meant that we had a lot of tomatoes and habaneros. So this year we’ve decided to garden together. Maximizing the space we’re growing a huge variety that will keep us all in the vegetable way.
Dan’s creation, something for his hops to climb
This year in the backyard we’re growing: washday peas, cucumber, cajun jewel okra, summer squash, winter squash, watermelon, sugar pumpkins, eggplant, jalapeño, bell peppers, roma tomatoes, pink ponderosa tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, cantaloupe, scarlet emperor beans, mint, basil, thyme, oregano, hot and spicy oregano, rosemary, lavender, cascade hops, nugget hops, strawberries, lettuce, red potatoes, a dwarf pomegranate tree, and a mystery gourd (or maybe a watermelon?). In the fall we’ll put in greens, carrots, and another crop of garlic.
This summer is also our first in a community garden. We were lucky enough to get a (huge) plot in Baltimore’s Roosevelt Park Garden. It’s about two miles north of our house, which I learned today is a lovely (if not a bit hilly) bike ride that smells perfectly like honeysuckle. At this garden we’ve planted a variety of tomatoes, okra, squash, melons, cucumbers, and peppers.
For now, we’re thrilled. But this Saturday is Baltimore’s Herb Festival, so I have a feeling we’ll be making some additions. What are you growing this summer?