With Thursday’s hard frost, another year of backyard gardening has come to an end and it’s time once again to take stock of a hobby that makes zero financial sense if you put any value on your time.
(For reference: my 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011 gardening grades.)
This incredibly versatile green–beyond using it in place of lettuce, you can also use it as you would chard in soups, stews and risotto and even make pesto out of it–rewarded me with bountiful spring and fall crops. My only regret: I didn’t clear-cut the remaining foliage on Wednesday.
These took off beyond my expectations or intentions–a bunch of cucumber plants volunteered in the other raised bed and random spots around the yard, which makes me wonder if the squirrels or the birds helped redistribute them. Making cucumber salad, cucumber soup, gazpacho, and cucumber salsa–not to mention using them as a sandwich condiment–wasn’t enough to use them all up.
The parsley was not as prolific as last year, hence the slightly lower grade. Cilantro did well in the spring, but nothing came of the seeds I planted in September; meanwhile, sage didn’t come around until the fall. Mint, oregano and rosemary were their usual unkillable selves, but basil was yet again nearly a complete bust. Speaking as a quarter-Italian American, that last part really hurts.
I only rarely had enough of this to use as a major part of a salad, but in the spring and the fall I could count on being able to step outside and grab a few leaves to use in an omelette or whatever.
Its spring performance was matched by its weak showing in the fall. But considering what you pay for lettuce in the grocery store or at the farmers market, this still represents one of the best gardening bargains. It’s just not arugula.
Green beans: C+
This grade would have been higher had all of my travel in May and June not led me to neglect the green beans that had gotten off to a fantastic start.
Mindful of my history of heartbreak here, I limited my efforts to buying a couple of plants at the farmers market and trying to grow a few others from seed. The handful of tomatoes I was able to harvest were utterly delicious, even the tiny specimen in the photo at the right; I just wish I’d had more of them.
Bell pepper: F
At least my sunk cost on them was under $2, the cost of a packet of seeds. And at least these are pretty cheap from the right farmers-market vendors.