Monday, May 9, 2011

Rambling: Garden Space

I've rarely had a lot of space for vegetable gardening. When I was very small, I remember trying to grow carrots in a flowerpot. When I was a bit older, a friend and I started a small garden in my back yard, but I remember each bed being perhaps the footprint of a laundry basket, and I think that there were only four beds. I don't recall whether we stayed interested long enough to see anything sprout; the friend seemed most interested in digging the watering trenches.

In adulthood, Himself and I had a twelve by twenty-five foot plot in a community garden, and while that was enjoyable, it was our only garden, and therefore I promptly filled the ends with roses and rosemary and a bay tree, all of which grew enthusiastically. This left us, after paths, with perhaps 150 square feet of space for annual vegetables. Fun, but not really enough room for a big block of corn, much less corn plus pumpkins plus tomatoes plus beans plus... well, you get the idea. Then we moved into The Best House Ever, but Himself has a great fondness for lawn, so the vegetable area is both smallish and limited in sunlight.

But this year, and likely next year, and not inconceivably for a few years after that, I'll have access to a fair-sized back yard's worth of garden space, more than I've ever dreamed of before. Enough that I worry that halfway through the summer we may need to declare failure and plant half of it with a cover crop and just mow. But I'm not spending much time worrying; I'm spending a lot more plotting what to plant. For the first time in my gardening history I can seriously consider pumpkins, and melons, and winter squash, and more than three tomato plants, and enough strawberries for more than a token taste now and then.

Since my access to this garden is for a limited time, I'm taking it as my opportunity to find my favorite varieties. When the time returns that I have room for only one pepper plant, or one tomato, or a dozen heads of lettuce, or I have to decide whether any melon or squash at all is worth the space, I'd like to know what my very favorites are.

And that means starting seeds--also something that I can do this year for the first time. We've added a tiny greenhouse, roughly the size of a double closet, and I'm already well on my way to filling all of the space available with plants in progress.

It's exciting. Assuming that it happens, there will be Pictures.