I hope we’re not in over our heads. In addition to the 30’x16′ raised bed garden Keith and his brother built us last year in the side yard, we came across a deal on a frame for a 24’x14’x12′ high tunnel. I think that is funny, “high tunnel” like we’re going to grow some illegal substance in it. My co-worker asked if we were going to build a trap door. Ah, no. To simplify and keep myself from giggling, I’ll just call it the greenhouse. Keith calls it, “Greenhouse #1.” Apparently we’re planning on more.

Keith and our best friend Roy have been chipping away at building and framing the greenhouse on decent days this Winter.  

Roy and Greenhouse #1

Roy working on the framing

More framing work

This was 2 days ago. Yesterday, Keith did more framing. Then, he broke his toe last night. Work might have to be on hold a bit until that heals up. He’s excited about the project, so I’m sure that while his foot is iced and elevated, he’ll be doing more research on the different options of plastic that we can put on it. Who knew there were so many different types of greenhouse plastic. Overwhelming (and boring as hell to me, I’ll let him figure that one out, he’s the engineer!)

Meanwhile, I dream of lettuce. Lots of lettuce. Speckled, ruffled, green, red, purple, loose-leaf, head, oak-leaf… I want lettuce year-round. We regrettably missed the Slow Food Boston  http://www.slowfoodboston.com/index.cfm  film and discussion about the Dervaes family.  This is what the invite said, “While living in downtown Pasadena, [they] grow over 6,000 lbs (yup, you read it right!) of produce. OK, so that seems amazing in and of itself. But consider this: they do it on less than a 1/4 acre.”  Very cool. We want that. I had not heard about them, but joined their Facebook Fan page and will be reading their blog. We really wanted to attend this, but with the broken toe and threat of a Nor’ Easter, we decided to stay home.

I planned on checking out the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange http://www.southernexposure.com/index.html today to start planning our order, but got distracted by deciding to finally clean and organize my side of the bathroom cabinets. I laughed it off a few years ago when Keith called me a hoarder because we discovered 24(!) tupperware containers of chicken and turkey broth in the freezer – homemade is better than store bought anyday. Seems I made them, but never used them. Today, I found 12 travel sized toothpastes, 4 containers of deoderant, and a squillion tampons. I mean, seriously, they were in every nook and cranny of the the under-the sink area plus the three drawers I call mine. There were all wrapped still, but there were no boxes or packages to be found. Perhaps there’s something to his diagnosis…

I woke up at 2:45 this morning with a crashing headache. Jill at the bar makes a mean Cosmopolitan.  I had 2. I couldn’t sleep, so after taking 3 ibuprofin, downing a full glass of water and eating 3 Fudge Stripes (necessary, you’re not supposed to take ibuprofin on an empty stomach!) went into Roy and Jen’s room (what we call our spare bedroom since they are the usual occupants). I tossed and turned there, my aching brain fighting me as I redesigned the side garden in my mind. I need more room for butternut squash. I planted three last year next to three zucchini plants and the butternut never came up- or so I thought. Once the zucchini was done, I pulled them up and tossed them into the brush pile over the fence and there was this WIMPY, yet very long vine growing underneath with the tiniest butternut squash hanging off the end. It was sickly looking and yellow and reminded me, well, of a deformed penis. (Well, it did. I’m supposed to use my true voice right?! Don’t judge.) I fertilized it and laid the vine across the vacant raised bed to give it maximum tanning time. Too late, it got cold and the little, special penisquash got very flaccid and then the slugs moved in the next day. Ick. I just shuddered, that picture obviously still haunts me.

The side garden is fenced in. It has 5 raised beds, a strawberry patch and a perfectly-placed decorative wrought-iron tower/crop-support/tall thingy that I grew the snap-peas on last year. Love that thing. We bought it at some random side-of-the-road wrought-iron sale about 5 years ago. Some guy in a truck pulled up a piece of field next to the gas station and just put out a whole buncha stuff like my tall-thingy, garden arches, and more. We bought that and a fan-shaped trellis.

Besides the butternut squash, I had a few other failures. (I keep saying, “I” because Keith was in charge of the tomatoes and they did awesome, I handled the choosing of the rest of the crops. More on the tomatoes in a later post.) Corn – nothing, well, not quite nothing, more like miniature renditions of corn. Little tassles, little kernels, growing just 4 inches tall, then drying up. Weird, slightly freaky children of the corn. Red onion from seed became little tiny purple marbles with green tops. I replanted them deeper this fall. We’ll see what happens. Tomatillos. That is a whole ‘nother story. I don’t recall ever eating a tomatillo, but I bought 6 seedlings. By the end of the season, we had HUNDREDS of tomatillos growing off these 8-foot high plants that were staked up like odd gangly scarecrows with little green lanterns hanging off every inch. Hundreds of IMMATURE tomatillos. Inedible. I shrouded then at night in landscape fabric during the first few frosts in an effort to prolong their lives and perhaps harvest one or two. I brought a few in and left them on the window sill, hoping something would happen. They were all lost. I’ll skip those this year. Broccoli was also a failure. I heard that wasn’t my fault though. The farmers at the farmers’ market said that the June rain caused their broccoli to fail. Whew. I loved that I had something else to blame besides my own ineptitude.

So, full circle to my first paragraph, I hope we’re not in over our heads. I can grow most flowers and herbs, but vegetables are fairly new to me and a little intimidating. We had enough success last year, the harvest outweighed the failures, so we’re going to forge on. I ordered stickers to go on mason jars that say, “From the Kitchen of Keith and Jenn.” The thought of a cabinet full of jars with those labels makes me happy.

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