Hartley Magazine

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July- In The Garden

Following life for a year on the sixth floor of a city apartment, my husband and I recently relocated to the ground floor– a house in more rural surroundings. Having the space for a vegetable garden once more was high on the list of conditions we sought when searching for a new home. What follows is a report from the new garden.

We couldn’t move until late April, so we had to forego early spring greens. And when the trees leafed out in early May, there were some surprises—a little less sunlight than we’d hoped. But the trees, mostly very old sugar maples, cast lovely shade on the house, and as summer heats up, I know we’ll appreciate this also.

We dug the garden space where lawn once grew. So my husband dug the sod into squares, and we initially made piles of them along the planting beds. Once tomatoes were planted, I lined the rows between them with these decomposing sod “tiles” and so far they are making an excellent mulch. I’ve turned them over to expose a new surface each time they’re moved. Eventually, they will just become soil. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality of that soil beneath the lawn—and even dug up an old plastic label for corn, suggesting that this was a pretty successful garden at one time.

We harvest our first sugar snap peas in a few days. So far we’ve also eaten plenty of lettuce—Renee’s Garden’s Heirloom Cutting Mix and Summer Bouquet– and arugula, with parsley, cilantro, and basil as well. Renee’s Garden’s Profuma di Genova basil, which I grew for the first time this year, has wonderfully large fragrant and delicious leaves. (www.reneesgarden.com)

This garden is smaller than many we’ve had over the years, so every inch counts. The sugar snaps and three kinds of beans I chose this year are all climbers—to conserve space. We’ve had fun erecting a variety of trellises for them. Some are primarily bamboo and string, but I’ve also tried out some new metal grids from Gardener’s Supply (gardener’s supply.com). Now that I’ve harvested an entire row of cilantro, I can sow Orient Wonder Yard Long Beans (www.territorialseeds.com) for a later crop. These Asian beans thrive on hot weather, so they’ll be happy in the days ahead.

Needless to say, the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant we’ve planted will enjoy the summer’s heat too.

Now that we have a garden once again, so will we.