How does your garden grow?

There's nothing I love more during this time of year than to stand in my garden and look at all the little plants that are coming back to life. It makes me feel better knowing that maybe there might be sunshine again.

So I do not pretend to be an expert gardener...or even a gardener period. For the past two years I have had a pretty little 3'x3' cold frame that Nick built for me out of scrap lumber and an old window we tore out of our kitchen wall. In that cold frame, I have been growing (or attempting to grow) strawberries, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, and lettuce. From those two years, I have only harvested a handful of strawberries, a few stubby carrots, and some bitter past-their-prime lettuce leaves.

Ever since I garden-sat for my neighbor, and Hood and I had our afternoon snacks in the garden, stuffing our faces with peas, carrots, raspberries and blueberries, I've wanted to put in a vegetable garden in our yard. This year, I set out to dedicate my entire spring break to finally making my dream happen.

On my birthday my parents surprised me by assembling and installing two raised beds for me. My dad slaved away all morning (in the snow) ripping up the grass, and putting the raised beds in place. In the early afternoon, I noticed a huge dump-truck coming up our driveway. My parents even got me dirt! Now I know this is not every girl's dream of having 4 yards of manure-rich soil dumped in her yard, but I couldn't have been happier. The next day Nick took me to Lowes and we bought the rest of the supplies I would need to fill the beds with goodies. Provided I don't do anything too dumb, in a few months I might actually get to enjoy some of the fruits (or in this case vegetables) of my labors. Ah ha ha.

So for the last few days, I have been busy planting potatoes, carrots, radishes, onions, rosemary, sage, peas, beans, and nasturtiums. These have all gone in under the helpful protection of my hoop houses that act as small greenhouses so I can start my seeds earlier in the cool days of spring.

This is what a baby onion looks like. I planted white and red onions. Yum!

These are my "compost garlics". I found them growing in our old compost heap, so I dug them up and transplanted them. We'll see if anything exciting comes of it.

The string-grid system you can see are my guides for square-foot gardening, thanks to my Uncle Andy. Since I am using raised beds and thus do not have to allow for walking paths, I won't be following the traditional row-based harding, but I am instead planting one square foot at a time, to aid in proper space-usage, as well as crop rotation.

Bean and pea trellises.

Check out my fancy way of connecting the plastic of the hoop-houses to the raised beds. I stapled the plastic to pieces of scrap wood heavy enough to weigh it down, but light enough I can still pull them off to access the beds when needed.

I sowed the first row of beans, peas and sugar-snap peas close to the edge (see labels), every month or so, I will sow another crop in a row a little further out. The strings are for all the vines to cling to. My hope is that I will be able to harvest peas and beans throughout the spring and summer. (These may be one of my favorites...)

In addition to working on the raised beds, I finally had the time to pay attention to our flower beds in the backyard. I planted hydrangeas, peonies, ferns and bleeding-hearts.

And no garden is complete without a compost pile. We raked up the remnants of our old heap and plopped it all into this bad boy. Looking forward to some lovely homemade awesomeness to add to my garden in, oh, about a year.