Thursday, September 22, 2011
the most amazing backyard garden i've seen
I promised more about J's mom's garden and on this rainy, muggy day I feel I could use a little sunshine, so let me lay it down.
Sharon has been an amateur gardener for all her life. It started with house plans, exercising her green thumb in the limited space of her home. She has a knack for plants, something she noticed when friends started bringing her their sick houseplants and Sharon was always able to nurse them back to health. Eventually, Sharon moved to the country(ish). She lives in a sweet little house on a corner lot with her husband Andre west of the west island.
As Sharon's collection of indoor plants grew, the plants themselves began to outgrow the house. She takes them outside in the summer and the space inside was becoming cramped. Andre built Sharon a solarium on the back of the house so she could take proper care of her plants throughout the winter and begin all her seeds for her garden in the early spring.
Sharon's outdoor garden beds now practically equal her house's interior space. She grows everything, without fertilizers or chemicals of any kind. The first bed in the main garden is almost entirely spinach. Sharon says it's taking over and she'll be pulling lots of it out in the fall. The only thing that can stand up to the bully-spinach is the equally aggressive dill weed.
Together they grow green and healthy. Whenever I go outside she tells me to pick more spinach. I think I'll go for one big harvest and then turn it all into spanikopita...
All of her salad greens are thriving. She has butter lettuce, red and green leaf lettuce. The leaves are small and supple. It would be a sandwich maker's dream to have that kind of a garden. "Hmmm, this could really do with a few tomato slices and some lettuce. Oh I know, I'll walk right out my back door and get some." Mind you... if I were the sandwich maker, I might be inclined to hire an assistant to get the cucumbers... they're prickly.
What impresses me most about her garden is the nightshades she grows. I've heard about people buying pepper plants and the like, but not Sharon. She grows peppers (hot and sweet) and eggplants of all kinds all from seeds.
I've never even seen some of the varieties she grows. There were albino eggplants (are they still aubergines?) and little mini globe ones. To see them all so healthy and thriving is a marvelous sight.
Andre even built Sharon an arbor for grapes. Much of that was lost in Hurricane Irene. I've never experienced a weather system like that, coming from the prairies. I haven't been back to her garden to survey the damage since, and Sharon said her sunflowers really took a beating from the wind and rain.
On the other side of the yard Sharon dug a big mound for her squashes. She grew mini watermelons this summer but they weren't doing very well. As far as I could tell that was a lot more watermelon than I have ever grown so I say they look damn fine to me.
Also growing in the squash patch: green and yellow zucchini, patty squash, butternut, and acorn. Oh yes, and in the middle of her flower beds in the front she's got a great big pumpkin growing slow and steady.
I forgot to mention the tomatoes. Holy ketchup, does she have tomatoes! Big red ones, round yellow ones, weirdly shaped pink ones, red cherries and grapes. They sort of pop up between the cucumbers and all along the fence. Sharon says she starts so many tomato seeds each year that she eventually loses track of which one is what.
The only thing better than a wonderful mother-in-law is a wonderful mother-in-law who has a bountiful garden and wants to share it.
Here's to Sharon and her green thumb.