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It’s been a month since we talked about the Vintage Garden and I have good news and bad news.

The bad news comes first-the peas and spinach didn’t come up. I bought new seeds and planted again. No peas. No spinach. I don’t know where the seeds went actually. I dug into the ground after about a week and they were no longer there. Birds? It made me sad. I’ve never had a year where I couldn’t get peas or spinach to grow. Boo.

See how some of the tops are missing? Darn rabbits.

See how some of the tops are missing? Darn rabbits.

The lettuce and parsley did come up and they looked beautiful. But two days ago, I noticed a few of the tops of the lettuce were missing. Though my garden is surrounded by fence, we’re also surrounded by rabbits… and I bet they figured out a way in. Little stinkers.

So I harvested it. Yummy salad time! I’ll make a vintage dressing and post it here soon.

Green and beautiful... it'll make for delicious salads.

Green and beautiful… it’ll make for delicious salads.

Then my birthday came and I got this…

My new, beautiful, granite mortar and pestle. Thanks mom and dad!

My new, beautiful, granite mortar and pestle. Thanks mom and dad!

And I realized-hey, I can use that extra space to grow herbs for awesome sauces and marinades and pestos and salsa using my mortar and pestle! I was happy again.

Here’s more good news-I got six awesome vintage gardening books from my library. They were published between 1901 and 1942.

My collection of books, borrowed from my library. Good, interesting, sometimes alarming tips!

My collection of books, borrowed from my library. Good, interesting, sometimes alarming tips!

My mother looked through them with me right after they came in. She can verify that they are, in fact, authentically old-she has an allergy to mold and mildew, and couldn’t spend much time looking through them. We did come to one conclusion on our first perusal… it’s no wonder people died young. We were shocked at some of the suggestions for fighting off pests… several of the books suggest sprinkling things like kerosene, lead, and arsenic on your plants! I’ll do a separate blog on the books coming soon.

Meanwhile, I got to work planting the rest of my garden. I got everything in a week later than I wanted-thanks to a wet May, a hectic schedule, and a raging sore throat that left me the will to do nothing but eat popsicles and sleep for a few days.

Alas, I recovered. And I went to Home Depot with a couple of comp cards from materials we returned after our big roof project. I bought lovely flowers for my front yard-and some new varieties of vegetables for my garden. Because I figure, if I can’t get the tried and true stuff to grow this year, maybe that means it’s a year for new things.

Look, one of my plants came complete with its own worm!

Look, one of my plants came complete with its own worm!

Here’s more good news-the strawberries we planted last year have fruit. And one is nearly red! I LOVE BERRIES. Seriously. I notice several of the plants also have runners… so I’m hoping my patch grows over time. I’ll do a blog just on the strawberries at a later date this summer.

Can't wait to harvest these!

Can’t wait to harvest these!

First, a big thanks to my hubby for tilling my last two garden beds. I could not have turned them by hand after my illness. That was a huge help! Also a big thanks to my little green thumbed nine year old daughter Ella, who was a huge help to me in the planting process again.

You’ll remember it was Ella’s idea to go super-vintage and use fish to fertilize our plants. This was something she remembered from this year’s lesson on Native Americans. History.org confirms that the Native Americans planted their corn with fish-some records suggest the corn seed was actually put into the mouth of the fish and then planted. That, my friends, was the first organic fertilizer.

So after I bought my plants, the search began for whole fish. I called every meat and seafood market in my area, including Jungle Jim’s. I learned a secret. Most of these stores no longer fillet their own fish-it comes to them already done. So, no whole fish or even fish heads! Guess where I found whole fish? Wal-Mart. I bought six frozen whole Tilapia, with eyes and everything, for $6. Not bad.

Yes, they were stinky.

Yes, they were stinky.

Ella and I cut the fish into three pieces each to make sure each plant got a portion. Then we set to work!

We dug our holes, and put the fish in the bottom. For the tomatoes, I also threw in a few egg shells that I’ve been saving because tomatoes need calcium to reach their full flavor potential.

I love Ella's face in this photo. I kept telling her, "this was your idea, kid!"

I love Ella’s face in this photo. I kept telling her, “this was your idea, kid!”

The tomatoes got both fish and eggshells-the other plants just got fish.

The tomatoes got both fish and eggshells-the other plants just got fish.

Tomato plant goes on top!

Tomato plant goes on top!

So what did we plant this year? I have three kinds of tomatoes-super sweet cherry, early girl and an heirloom variety called Mortage Lifter! There’s a great story behind it. One of my favorite websites, Beekman 1802 explains this tomato was “bred around 1929 by a gardener named Marshall Cletis Byles. Marshall, who went by the nickname “Radiator Charlie,” owned an auto repair garage in Logan, West Virginia. When his business suffered during the Great Depression, “Radiator Charlie,” decided to earn extra money by selling the best tasting tomato variety he could breed. It took a few years, but Charlie finally bred his perfect tomato. He advertised that one single plant, with its 1-2lb fruits, could feed a family of six. He sold enough seedlings in four years to pay off his mortgage-in full.”

I also put in mini-eggplants..

Mini eggplants!

Mini eggplants!

Sweet basil..

Sweet basil. Seriously, does anything smell as good as basil? I think not.

Sweet basil. Seriously, does anything smell as good as basil? I think not.

Rosemary…

Rosemary, for use in chicken and bread!

Rosemary, for use in chicken and bread!

Mini-sweet peppers…

Mini-Sweet Peppers. My girls love these and their pretty expensive in the store, so if I can get them to grow, it'll be a money saver.

Mini-Sweet Peppers. My girls love these and their pretty expensive in the store, so if I can get them to grow, it’ll be a money saver.

And nine Stonehead cabbage plants!

Allegedly, this variety of cabbage is compact and disease-resistant.

Allegedly, this variety of cabbage is compact and disease-resistant.

Now the fun part begins! I’ll post periodic updates as I try and keep my little garden thriving and alive until harvest!

The full garden-hopefully it'll fill out and be fruitful!

The full garden-hopefully it’ll fill out and be fruitful!

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