Growing in Our Mini Plot

Mini Plot Salad Table Made by My Husband

My husband built a salad table one Saturday afternoon this past spring.  He followed the plans for the Salad Table from the Grow It Eat It Network.  He built it from wood piled in our garage.   After he completed it,  we had a little more space in our garage and a mini plot on our deck.  A variety of crops grew in our salad table this year.  In early summer,  swiss chard, romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce and arugula grew in it.   My son helped me pick  the tender leaves.  The table is the perfect height for him to reach and pick without bending over or standing on his toes.   We ate lots of mixed salads and swiss chard this summer. I sautéed the swiss chard in olive oil with garlic, salt  and pepper then tossed with pasta.  Swiss chard is good in minestrone soup, too.

Wild Fennel

The fall crops are now growing in the salad table.  Recently, this wild fennel shoot popped up unexpectedly.  I learned that wild fennel can be an  invasive plant.  It does not have the celery-like stem of sweet fennel.  Its delicate leaves have a strong anise  or licorice flavor.   Clippings of fennel leaves in a salad are a happy surprise to taste buds.  Along with the wild fennel there is spinach, radishes and two mystery greens growing in the table.   The mystery greens are transplants from my husband’s coworker.   Our mini plot’s first growing season was a success.  It grew some gregarious greens!

The Unexpected Sprouts

A clear blue sky, crisp cool air, warm sunshine plus adventure equals a perfect Saturday in autumn.  We headed for our garden plot this afternoon but had a few diversions before arriving there.    We stopped at a pet store and a fall festival.  We went to the pet store to purchase biscuits for our dog and my son discovered a playful kitten.  My son slipped a thin metal wire through the kitten’s cage.  The cat flipped, batted, jumped and kicked at the bunch of cardboard strips hanging at the wire’s tip.  My son roared in laughter.  He did not want to leave the pet store.  We redirected  him with hope of a hayride at our community garden site.    The Howard County Conservancy was full of activities for its fall festival.   We bumped through rolling fields and woods on a hayride pulled by a tractor with wheels taller than my son.   A master gardener at the compost demo gave my son a bunch of pink and blue balloons.  My son slurped honey from a straw and chatted about bees with a woman from the Howard County Beekeepers Association.  We listened to steel pounding on steel as a blacksmith hammered a hot orange metal rod into a fork after heating it in a coal fire stoked by large bellows.  My son said the banging was his favorite.   While my husband and son lingered and asked questions  in the blacksmith shop,  I finally visited our garden plot.

 

Turnip Seedling

 

Our plot is still producing tomatoes, peppers and beans.  I picked two grocery bags full of red and green tomatoes and peppers.  I pulled out and composted three tomato plants that had toppled to the ground.  Our fall plantings sprouted!  Radish, turnip, spinach and lettuce seedlings  now sprinkle the brown earth in unplanned patterns of curving rows, circles, clumps, pairs and triples.  Some extra seeds must have dropped from my hand during planting.  Many seedlings will need to be pulled out to allow more space for underground growth.

Those unexpected sprouts remind me of our day.   Unexpected adventure and fun popped up despite my plans.  Thank you God, for your goodness and for dropping some extra seeds outside my rows of plans.

The Rain

It started raining early this morning.  We felt the thick air move through our open windows.  We heard our dog whine as he sensed the coming storm.  Then the rain fell.  It felt like water from hundreds of  hoses with nozzles set on “soak” blasting our townhouse.   All day the rain came in mists, showers and  downpours.  The rain caused flood warnings,  some schools districts to close two hours early, a relative’s  roof  to leak,  traffic delays and my hair to frizzle. Rain can be a nuisance in our busy lives, but it is never a bother to my son or to a garden.   The rain gives my son the chance to wear his  big yellow rubber boots,  hold a fancy striped umbrella, and search for the perfect puddle to splash in.   The rain gives our garden the chance  to thrive and grow new crops in autumn.  Last week I planted  lettuce, spinach, turnip and radish seeds in our garden.  They must be  bursting and sprouting strong roots  in all the wet soil.    I hope to see little seedlings peeking out of the ground in our garden plot this Saturday.    Thank you rain.