From commentor Currants:
I grew up in a family with a huge vegetable garden, and I hated everything to do with growing vegetables, especially green beans, with a flaming passion. For a long time, I grew only flowers—because, having grown up in the country, it was an opportunity to be outside, doing something. (And who doesn’t love planting bulbs: such great return on so little effort!)
Then in my late 20s, I met someone for whom gardening was fun. When it wasn’t fun, or when he didn’t want to do it, he didn’t. No compulsion to weed–instead, it was his excuse to take a break from his office. No compulsion to pick and use every single thing he grew, no threats about how appreciative we’d be to have that food in the winter, and best of all, no overgrown, overcooked mushy vegetables to face down on the plate.
Today, my friend and his wife have an urban condo with herbs in windowboxes in the summer, and I’m the one with the garden. I’ve had gardens that included vegetables and flowers, even one year spent in a 7th floor apartment in France (it was in the south, there was a terrace, I had window boxes and fresh parsley and arugula and radishes year round). These days, I’ll try growing just about anything outside (in my zone, 6b, a few miles W-SW of Boston), and this fall I’ve started experimenting with hugelkultur (http://www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur/) on a minor scale–we’ll see how it looks in the spring. In recent years, the garden has expanded and now includes 6 raised beds (4×8), an asparagus bed, rhubarb, and an exterior bed that currently has leeks and (soon) garlic. There’s also an herb bed, for thyme (creeping, German, English), oregano, cilantro, savory, rosemary (tarragon, parsley and dill are elsewhere).
Last year, both because I was insanely busy and because the friend mentioned above had suggested it, I covered my carrots and left them in the ground until early November. When I started digging, very few carrots remained. It looked like an abundance of slugs had infested the new beds, which coincidentally were where the carrots were. Then I went to dig the celeriac in the older beds and found the same problem. A bit more digging, and the real culprits fled the scene: the fattest mice in the neighborhood. I don’t mind critters getting some of what I grow, but I do mind when they get most of it…
In September this year I went out to dig some carrots for a recipe. They were planted in small groups in different beds, and the first dig of the spading fork showed that the mice had already begun. They start at the top–severing the greens–and work their way down. I stayed out in the rain and dug ALL the damn carrots. (Turns out I’m competitive after all.) Took me a few hours–and naturally, by the time I was finished, the sun had come out. By then, I had about 40 lbs of carrots to store, or cook, or…something. Carrot curry, carrots and hummus, roasted (and/or caramelized) carrots, spicy pickled carrots, plain old pickled carrots, and boy, am I tired of carrots.
So, the photos: carrots, carrots, carrots…. Plus: cranberry beans on the tray drying (no photos, but black beans turned out well this time too), green beans on the counter before cooking (the purple ones look pretty, but Fortex pole beans are the best: they take up little space, stay tender even if you miss them/dont have time to pick and they keep growing, and they keep producing all summer).
Then there’s the overall autumn yard/garden photo (pear and lilac in the near front, leek/garden bed outside the fenced area, low-hoop covered beds in the front and asparagus in the back, the tall feathery stuff). The coverings are intended, among other things, to help reduce the volume of pine needles that get into the beds. Inside them, peppers and eggplants are finishing their season, while kales, collards, fennel, radish, chard, and parsley begin or continue theirs. If I’m efficient this week, I’ll get the tomato detritus out of the remaining front bed (not yet hooped), and plant a bunch of lettuces, just to see how far we can get this fall with our own greens.
After that, it’s back to the attic with growlights and seed packets—and maybe I’ll try growing a winter-supply of basil this year up there. We’ll see.