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Growing Things, Seasonal, Vegetables

Vegetable Garden Challenge

Back in May, my husband and I decided to tackle our first undertaking as a married couple and start a garden. Of course, living on the second floor of an apartment building means space options are limited to the one outdoor area we have – the veranda. It’s not a particularly big veranda, and it’s already got plenty of stuff on it – kerosene tanks, emergency exit, sawhorse – but with a hammer and nails, some clay pots and seemingly endless trips to the home store for potting soil, we had a serviceable set-up, just waiting for plants.

Our humble veranda garden. This picture was taken a week ago, and it’s amazing to me how much bigger the plants were when I watered them this morning.

We had a big vegetable garden when I was a kid. I loved it – loved weeding, loved checking on the plants every day, loved how flavorful our fresh vegetables were.

I loved it, but aside from watering and weeding, I can’t say I had much to do with maintainance. Consequently, I don’t actually know much about growing vegetables. So far, our gardening experiment has been a lot of (sometimes expensive) trial and error. For example, I didn’t know (and didn’t bother to research) that tomatoes are tough to grow from seeds, and my determination to stay away from pesticides, combined with intimidation at the mere thought of looking for something like neem oil in Japan, left me with an anti-bug strategy comprising nothing but fervent hopes that the bugs just wouldn’t find our plants on the second floor.

Wee baby cucumbers

They did find them, of course, and I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with aphids. Meanwhile, my tomato sprouts, after almost a month, still have only two leaves (I wound up buying some starts, which are doing much better). But there are signs of hope. It might be a small victory, but on Monday we had our first salad of home-grown greens, and the peppers are starting to grow.

Then the universe, perhaps seeing our feeble but fervent attempts as self-sufficiency, conspired to give us even more than we’d bargained for.

When I mentioned our gardening attempts to a newly-made acquaintance recently, he laughed, and offered (half-jokingly) to let us use part of his garden to grow a few things. Beer subdued any reservations we might have had otherwise, and we took him up on it almost immediately. We haven’t planted anything yet, but so far the benefits have been great – our fridge is stuffed full of green beans, eggplants, peppers and cucumbers, all presents from our garden benefactor.

The empty mound is our newly-adopted garden plot. We haven’t decided what to plant yet. Readers, any suggestions?

Look for more garden-related updates in the future. With any luck, it’s going to be a delicious summer!



5 thoughts on “Vegetable Garden Challenge

  1. Can you grow some watermelons, and then can we have a watermelon smashing competition?
    Also, sweet potatoes and Negi are always win!
    I feel like I am putting in shopping orders… Let me know if you need a hand with the labor!

    Posted by mettanko | July 4, 2012, 1:53 pm
  2. I love that you are going to grow even more now. I’ve heard a saying, “what you think about expands.” It is so true. I remember first learning about that kind of row that is raised up a bit. I learned about when visiting a school garden in Arkansas. They called them french intensive rows. Do you know if that is what your gardener friend calls them? Maybe not, since he probably speaks Japanese.

    Posted by realocalcooking | July 5, 2012, 1:25 am
  3. Oh man so I have suggestions! Basil, zucchini/summer squash, pumpkins, strawberries, chard, kale, broccoli, mustard greens, or sweet peas all seem like they would work in that space. If you grow enough basil for pesto, you can freeze it in ice cube trays and have homemade pesto all year. Also, pickled sweet peas are totally delicious.

    Posted by Ardent Melody | July 12, 2012, 6:50 pm


  1. Pingback: Together in the Kitchen with a Whole Bunch of Eggplants: Eggplant Curry « I'll Make It Myself! - August 12, 2012

  2. Pingback: I’ll Make It Myself!: “Together in the Kitchen with a Whole Bunch of Eggplants: Eggplant Curry” | - August 20, 2012

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