Before my family moved when I was in middle school, we had the best backyard garden. My dad had taken care of it for years, tilling the earth full of compost, leaves and grass clippings, and once, even a pick-up load of horse manure. The soil was so fertile, and our yield usually proved that. We’d have plenty of tomatoes, squash, zucchini and eggplant. Sunflowers would line the back row of the garden, along the fence. Sometimes, we’d add corn there too, though usually the squirrels would get to it. My sister and I each had our own sections for a few years, and we’d try out our green thumbs with carrots, or watermelons, or pumpkins.
But our favorite was the potatoes. You never knew what was happening under the ground. Plants would be growing – and then dying – in our view, but the actual potatoes were hidden far away. Late summer, my dad would get out shovels and a pitchfork, and we’d start pulling the plants up. “Look, look, baby potatoes!” we’d squeal. The tiny ones were always the best, we thought. Our parents would grill them up for dinner, and they were the perfect size for us kids.
I don’t have a garden now in my backyard – and I think it’s a little late to start tilling up the ground and getting it all ready. But I do have plenty of pots, including some nice wooden boxes my dad built out of some wood he recycled from an old bookshelf and bed frame.
Last night, I started some beets, radishes and onions in one of the deeper pots. My grandfather, who used to fill his gardens all spring and summer with many vegetables, recommended placing radish seeds in the same rows as the beets. They sprout faster, marking the rows for the slow-growing beets. I’m not sure if I’ll actually keep the radishes or not, but it seemed like a good idea.
I also buried some onions around the edges of the box. They’ll start sprouting green onions that can continually be cut and used to cook with. I love green onions in most everything – especially eggs. Tom’s not a fan of onions, or green things, and jokingly calls it grass.
I’ve also sketched out some rough plans for the rest of my container garden. I may be a little ambitious. But I’m hoping that it all pays off.