Saturday, March 10, 2012

Weekend Cooking: Springing Forward, In More Ways Than One

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Tonight we turn the clocks ahead one hour, springing forward. (If this comes as a public service announcement to you as it did to me the other day, then you're not alone.)  While I'm not a fan of the lost hour of sleep this weekend, I do welcome this change of the seasons. More sunlight? Bring it on.

We're also springing forward in a different kind of way. We found a house! We're beyond thrilled. We are so cramped for space here in the apartment, even with the majority of our things in storage. As regular readers of the blog may recall, we put an offer in on a house in late January, only to find during the home inspection that there were many costly problems a-lurking. (Mold, and lots of it. All 25 windows needing replacing. A buckling garage wall. The list went on.)  Then came a second house, whose owner wanted a full price offer and nothing less (which ours was). Finally, this house came along and it was everything we wanted and then some.

Among the and then some things is a vegetable garden. As in ... a HUGE vegetable garden that resembles a small farm. (I'd post a picture of this garden I'm acquiring, but since it's technically not mine yet, I feel sort of funny about doing so publicly on the blog. If you're my Facebook friend, though, you know what I'm talking about.)

I'm told there are also apple trees. And pear trees. Blueberry bushes, too.

I see lots of pies in my future.

The thing is, I'm so not a gardener.  I know very, very little about keeping any of these things alive, which I'd very much like to do because I like the idea of eating locally - and you can't get much more local than one's own backyard. Also, these owners clearly put a lot of work and time into this and I would at least like to try my hand at this garden before dismissing it outright and saying this isn't for me. I mean, I know we don't have to keep this garden but there is something about the whole thing that I love. (It's a nostalgia thing; my dad spent weekends working in our yard.) I like the idea of trying to do this.

I have a sense that this is my next book.  (Whenever I'm finished with the first one, that is.)

I say I'm not a gardener, but the reality is, other than throwing some tomato and pepper plants in the ground one year (they turned out pretty good; we ate them and we're still here) and calling myself a gardener, I've never really tried.

But, still, let's not kid ourselves. I'm out of my league here.

So, even though this is a huge garden plot, I've decided to start small. Baby steps. A few plants and crops for this first season (but which ones???) and we'll see how it goes. (There's a compost bin, too, which The Husband is absolutely NOT thrilled about, given the smell of such things.) We'll be in the house at the end of this month, a few weeks before the last frost date in our area.  (Do you still go by that even if it has been such a mild winter?) So while I won't have any seeds started indoors, there might be time to plant some things. (Right? That's the correct strategy, right?  Here in the Pittsburgh suburbs, we are apparently in Zone 6a.  Aren't you impressed? See, I'm learning already.)

So, while I spend time that I should be packing on Pinterest looking at gardens, help me out here. Are you a gardener? What websites, blogs, books, crops, etc. would you recommend to someone new at this?

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Libby Rodriguez said...

Wow!! How exciting! The fruit trees are going to blossom and smell and look great! So, look up French intensive gardening or square foot gardening. I hear that those are pretty similar things and that they are the way to go... You don't have to roto-till. You just spread some newspaper and then put dirt on top and then plant. SOUNDS easy (famous last words)!!!!

Anonymous said...

skippys vegtable garden looks like a good blog and she is in zone 6.


Beth F said...

We've gone through stages. For a few years I had an herb garden with 60+ varieties. We've also grown all kinds of veggies -- from asparagus to pumpkins. It's so satisfying. Mr. BFR even had grow lights set up for starting plants indoors.

We now do a CSA, but just the thought of your property makes me want to garden again. :)

Lisa Gradess Weinstein said...

I would love to grow vegetables but I am concerned about all of the little critters that inhabit my yard - squirrels, chipmunks, etc - would the veggies survive?
Good luck Melissa,

Marg said...

Congratulations on the house!

I have a big area in our backyard that I am doing nothing with. My long term plan is to put in some raised garden beds and grow vegies, but I do wonder if that is a bit too adventurous seeing as I can barely keep plants alive and the existing gardens under control!

Peggy Ann said...

I live just north of Pittsburgh! We don't have a lot of room but Hubby has put in 2 beds where flowerbeds should be but we put vegetables there and I plant my herbs in the front flower bed mixed with some flowers. Here is my Irish Boxty recipe

Christine said...

Melissa! Congratulations on your new home! :)
AND on the garden you inherited with it! I am GREEN with envy!!! I love gardening. I'm not exceptionally good at it, but I love learning about it, experimenting and trying really hard at being good at it. lol!

I used to have a decent sized suburban backyard garden that I grew from the ground up. Well duh.. I mean that I dug up grass and added soil and compost and lots of sweat and heart until it was decent. Then we did a home renovation and addition in 2008-09 right where my garden was! I've been dying to re-establish it and every spring say THIS is the year and every year I don't! Will this year be the year? I hope so. Like any week now I should get started. [I'm in zone 6 in NJ]

Anyway, lucky you for having apple pear and blueberries. My neighbor has a pear tree and does nothing and has beautiful pears in late summer. I know because the squirrels pick them in their yard and hop over the fence to eat them in mine! LOL!

I tried blueberries in my little postage stamp yard, but I don't think I get quite enough sun. Yummy.

Deer and rabbits are problems here, so gardens need to be netted or fenced. It sounds like you're in a rural area and would likely face the same critters?

I suggest giving your gardening ego a boost the first year and plant things that are easy and prolific and would turn your summer meals into something extra special. Herbs are fantastic for just that.. basil, parsley, chives, rosemary, oregano, dill, sage, tarragon, etc.. some are annuals and others perennials so do a little homework first so you plant the perennials in permanent spots. Some of them may already be there from the previous owner. Then for vegetables, sugar snap peas are a spring treat and very easy... cherry tomatoes grow like weeds and require close to no care. String beans are easy, too!

I have had a compost pile for about 13 years now and it NEVER smells bad. EVER. It always smells like yummy dirt. The key is to have plenty of dried, brown material all year long... especially in the summer when there's not a lot of brown stuff in your yard. I mulch leaves using my lawn mower in the fall--[and this time of the year, too because there's always leaves around after the winter under bushes and in corners]--and pile them all up in the compost pile. It looks huge for a month or so in October, but is half the size by spring and then nothing by September.

I subscribed to Organic Gardening magazine for years and have maybe 3-4 good gardening books on my shelf. Learned most of what I know there and from friends.

Good luck! You're going to have SO MUCH FUN!!!!