Herbs have a way of becoming overlooked in the garden. Totally necessary, totally delicious, they are the first things people gravitate to due to their familiar form and their evocative scents. But at some point in one’s gardening life, they become relegated to supporting roles, humdrum foils to the Brandos and Streeps that are heirloom Brandywine tomatoes and Japanese eggplant. But you still gotta have ’em, you’re still gonna have to make dinner in June, and anyone starting out in gardening will have at some point in their tenure started with a windowsill full of these tasty gems.
In mid-October, we had plenty of undiscovered pole beans which had gone unpicked and had dried in place. Here are a few on the right, with fresh ones on the left.
A few other things–flowers, Shishitos, even Asparagus berries– were available for seed saving. I hadn’t planned for this at all but it seemed like a good thing to try. The beans came out easily. I planted them in 2015.
There’s one spot in the garden beds that didn’t do as well as the others in terms of heavy metals on the soil tests. Through research, testing and various practices, I’ve been able to keep these metals out of the food we eat and out of our bodies. I am fully confident that these strategies are working. However, I’m still very interested in further reducing the issue and risk, and testing and learning along the way.
Introducing: Indian Mustard.
I’m committed to improving the soil in my spot, a spot which I’ll be stewarding for a long time, I hope. In 2014 I decided to try cover cropping, resized for the urban garden.
Green Manure is one term used to describe planting species which will improve the soil quality. They do this while they are alive by lossening the soil, adding nitrogen to the soil, and preventing weeds, and they do this when they are dead by breaking down and creating first a layer of mulch, and then compost.
A few of the unwanted guests in the 2014 season.
The twin nemeses of this urban gardener. Are they collaborating in their dark ways? Morning Glories, beautiful as they are (and they are lovely to behold in the morning as they unfurl, only to close their blooms by afternoon), really have a way of sneaking into anything they can and strangling whatever grows there. Squirrels took a large share of the produce this year and last. For some reason in 2015 they found other realms to ravage. Typically they take a bite of a nearly ripe tomato or cucumber and discard it, only to do the same thing to another one and another one. Very inconsiderate.
2014 was the first year that there was enough food coming in from the garden that we sometimes had more than we could eat. Witness our pole beans, of which we had a couple of pounds a week of harvest for a few weeks. We ate them, we dreamed about them chasing us, we gave them away… eventually we couldn’t handle any more.
A few photos of urban visitors from the 2014 season. Neighbor’s cat.