Sunday, May 25, 2008

Here we grow again

Herbs. Vegetables. Weeds.

Sometimes I still get these three confused as far as my little garden is concerned.

During the Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada, I did my slightly belated spring gardening. I pulled out recognizable weeds and dead plants from last year... tilled the soil...added topsoil...

I turned my two small plots into one. You see, when my father-in-law created these two plots 4 years ago, he put a 1 ft gap in between so it would be easier to reach the plants. I thought I could use this space for more plants instead. So now my vegetable/herb patch is about 4' x 4' in the middle of the yard. Everything is still within easy reach from any side.

I am very pleased to see how my thyme and sage have grown. My Italian parsely plants are lusher too and many new growths have sprouted. The dill has come back to life! And so has the marjoram.

I felt bad the rosemary did not survive the winter. So now it's parsely, sage, marjoram and thyme. It doesn't sound right. I must get rosemary! (I already have.)

What else should I plant this year? I wondered. I've had enough of brocollini. They don't yield that much flowerettes. I decided to get snow peas, curled parsely, onions, and French tarragon. I should've planted English cukes too, in that way I have Italian, French and English--my European ensemble.

I am also delighted that the little lavender I planted last fall is thriving. I expect it to grow and spread out. It reminds Gino of Provence. I look forward to having fragrant lavender blooms in the future.

When my blossom buddies, Merry and Terry, recently asked me about my gardening, I proudly told them I have planted new herbs in addition to existing ones.

"So what did you plant?" asked Merryblossoms.

"I planted snowpeas--"

"That's not herbs," she butted in. "That's a vegetable." She was teasing. She's the same friend who realized I couldn't tell a weed from a vegetable when I volunteered to help her weed her yard some time back.

Last Saturday, after coming home from overtime work, I decided to layer wet newspapers under the little rocks and soil that serve as the pathway around my garden plots. I read in many places online that this is an effective way of preventing the growth of weeds by smothering them. I thought I would try it.

When hubby buddyblossoms checked what I was doing, he was quite impressed. I was very proud to add that many vegetables have sprung in one corner, even though I wasn't sure I planted them.

"If you didn't plant them, maybe they are not vegetables," he pointed out. Good point. But what if I had thrown some seeds in that area a long time ago? For me, anything that doesn't look like dandelions or wild grass must first be assumed as vegetables. I always give them a chance to show their true nature.

As for dandelions, I don't know whether to categorize these as weeds or vegetables. Their young leaves are edible, but they grow too fast and if left unattended can overtake any patch of land. I don't want them growing in my garden. I can eat them with other greens that you buy in packs from the the supermarket, but in their natural environment, I can only regard dandelions as grass.

My tiny garden is full by now. Yesterday, I got two small tomato plants to go with my onions. I might still be able to squeeze in garlic so I can have a garlic-onion-tomato combo that are often sauteed in Filipino dishes.

Except for the snow peas, onions, tomatoes and peppers, my plants are mostly perennials. I have some flowering plants too -- pink-and-white-striped petunias, a rose plant in a pot, a hanging basket. My tulips have faded to sprout again next spring.

Every day, I look over my garden and I am very pleased. Now I understand what my mother used to say of her many tropical and flowering plants, "Nakakabusog sa mata." (A feast to the eyes.) Although I am growing mostly edible plants, I am already content just looking at them. Using them for food is a bonus.

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