Dirty Hands

I love when my hands look like this.*

Hands like this mean that on a lazy Sunday afternoon after a quick hailstorm, I had a hour or so to go out and meander around my garden, weeding my raised beds, putting a rubber snake named Ken Norman in the strawberry patch to ward off evil birds, thinning out carrots, and transplanting the poor lettuces that were being mercilessly bullied by the much bigger turnips and potatoes (note to self: don’t plant lettuce so close to turnips and potatoes next year).

Oh, what’s that, you say? You wish you could see this garden that I speak of? Well, now you can!

Welcome to your virtual tour of my garden at “The 401” (as I just now decided I like to call mi casa. This is where the magic happens.

As you can see, we have several raised beds. There are seven of those, each one full of soon-to-be delicious fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. In the large front bed–the one with the wrought iron “401” flanked by a couple bushes–we have eggplant, tomatillos, cilantro, blue potatoes, normal potatoes, lemon cucumbers, and mint. The eggplant is more of an idea than a reality right now, but hopefully the seeds we planted will eventually sprout. We need to buy an eggplant plant this week though, or else we will have to wait entirely too long to start having our favorite summer meal–tomato and eggplant pizza.

Behind the big corner bed are six smaller raised beds that I built this spring. Each one is filled with a mixture of sawdust, horse manure, a little compost, and a blend of cow manure and topsoil from Farm and Fleet. I dug out the grass in each box, so they are all deeper than they look.

In this box, we have zucchini in the middle, surrounded by four potato plants in the corners. as the potatoes grow, I’ll keep adding dirt and sawdust that will gradually will fill up the box.

Next, we have watermelon and yellow squash. That’s not all, though. I will be a while before those guys are big and burly, so for now I’m filling in the empty space with various plants that I had to thin out of other boxes–everything from carrots to turnips, green beans to lettuce. Actually, it’s just those four things.

Over here is my most mature bed. This is the one with the big bully turnips and potatoes. Under the trellis are carrots, and climbing the trellis (eventually) are green beans. Oh yeah, and there is a little spinach in here, but my spinach crop largely failed this spring, so I’ll have to try again this fall.

This one is going to be interesting. We have a few broccoli plants–each one of them named Calvin (thanks to Josh Birky, my friend, who originally had the idea of growing Calvin Broccoli, but he doesn’t have a blog, so I get to take online credit for the idea!) I’ve also got some kale in here, a few peppers, and onions. I transplanted more lettuce into this bed as well, so hopefully it will grow and provide many a tasty salad.

This is our tomato and basil bed–or spaghetti sauce bed. Either one works. We have two tomato plants in here now, and more seeds planted (not sure if they’re going to make it or not). A few basil plants scattered around the corners, and we’re good to go.

The last of our raised beds features a miniature herb tower. I have asparagus, beans, a tomatoes, onions, and something else (I forget what it is) planted on the lower level, and in the top box there are four different herbs–oregano, chives, sage, and rosemary. In theory, that top box will be bursting with delicious herbs in a couple months. Right now it’s just dirt.

Here is our little strawberry patch, carefully guarded by Ken Norman the rubber snake. We have about 4 billion little berries forming, a fact that excites me a great deal. Ken Norman the rubber snake, keep those birds away!

As if 18 potato plants weren’t enough (that’s how many are in the raised beds), I decided to plant a few more alongside the house, to the mild exasperation of my lovely wife. She’ll be glad I planted them when we’re eating purple hashbrowns for breakfast this winter!

Fall just would be fall without butternut squash soup. So, we planted butternut squash. Here. Also, Ken Norman the rubber snake says hi.

Last, but certainly not least, here is my little ugly-corner-of-the-yard-by-the-sidewalk bean patch. It may not look like much, but they’re growing like crazy!

There you have it. That is pretty much my entire garden this year. Anyone want to come over for a garden feast in August?

* I may or may not have staged this hand photo. If I did, it was only because my hands were too dirty to grab the camera with and take a picture of them, so I–theoretically–may have washed them to grab the camera, then realized that I had just completely defeated the purpose of grabbing the camera in the first place, so I wiped my hand in the dirt to make it look dirty again. Like I said, maybe that happened, maybe it didn’t. We’ll never know.



  1. Aunt Lynn

    Very cool. Things are coming along. Putting up a wren house helps keep other birds away from your garden. Wrens only eat bugs and they are very territorial. Also, they have a beautiful song. The hole in a wren hose is only the size of a quarter I believe. They are tiny. Other birds cannot get into their house with a small hole.
    On a side note….I have never named a rubber snake

    • Is it too late to put up a wren house now?

      Also, why would you need rubber snakes? You have hundreds of real ones!

      • Aunt Lynn

        No it’s not too late. The males are still building the nests inside and then calling to the females who feather the nest…IF they decide they like it.

  2. Crystal

    I love it. It’s beautiful!

    • Thank you! Our potatoes have grown about 4 inches since I posted this.

      • Aunt Lynn

        Hill the dirt up around your potato plants and just keep the top couple leaves showing. Keep doing this as the potato grows. When it is time to harvest, it will be very easy to dig the dirt away and find the potatoes.

  3. Everything looks great! And I love dirty hands too!


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