By Genevieve Rajewski
Although Nate and I spend a lot of time, food-wise, mulling what meat to cook and where to get it, this winter we were all about the veggies--the amazing ones we hoped to grow. For us, dreams of yard farming was the perfect mental getaway from the many feet of snow outside.
We considered two approaches, both involving raised-bed gardening for soil safety’s sake. (We live in a 100-year-old house in an older neighborhood, so we have to assume the soil may be contaminated with the lead paint and leaded gas fumes that were so prevalent once upon a time.)
First, we thought about hiring Green City Growers to come consult on where best to build a raised bed and then to construct it and get the seeds started for us. (I read in Edible Boston, that they can do a starter garden for $500, but somehow we never got the timing of a phone consultation right.)
Next, we thought about buying a raised-bed system like the one our friend Simone just installed. It is gorgeous and--no surprise given Simone’s green thumb--already off to a productive start.
But as grandiose as our garden dreams were, in no scenario did we ever think we’d actually have the time or construction skills necessary to build a raised system ourselves. Yes, I am sure we could slap something together that would technically hold the weight of soil and plants. But would it be polished enough to not trash-ify our front yard? Doubtful, and that's the only part of our yard with enough sunny space left to grow vegetables.
Amusingly, using the front yard was the most contentious part of our farming plans when we mentioned them to family members--not so much for appearances’ sake, but because they (as true, suspicious Massachusetts folk) all assume that passersby will steal the veggies. Is that even a real risk? I’d love to know if that has actually happened to anyone.
(I, on the other hand, was convinced that planting veggies out front might give us an opportunity to chat with neighbors and people walking by as we worked—and even to make a few new friends if we ended up with enough food to give away. Of course, as a true Masshole, I am sure I’d never ask the names of any of those people, even if I liked talking to them everyday. But I digress.)
Ultimately, Nate and I decided that we were perhaps being a little overly ambitious, given that we’d never grown food before. So we decided to start small and to just use our new patio and back stairs for container gardening.
Right outside the kitchen door, we now have a window box full of basil, thyme, oregano and sage; a huge pot of rosemary; and individual pots of mint, parsley and dill. (I have pillaged the parsley so much already that I plan to plant more next year; the dill I’d love recipes for as I love the taste but have too much crop already.)
But I am most excited, if cautiously optimistic, about our vegetable plants: fanfare cucumbers; crookneck summer squashes; and three kinds of tomatoes (including the heirloom varieties Brandywine and Cherokee purple) paired with marigolds.
All this leaves me wondering what are you growing? How’s it going so far? What are you going to do with the results? Has anyone found vegetable gardening to be their next step after joining a CSA?