Kalyn's Kitchen

Friday Night Photos: 2009 Garden Update #1 (Friends from last year are back.)

Green onions in gardenOne part of spring that’s rewarding is venturing out into the garden to see what perennials came back from last year. In Utah, there are always a few casualties, but because I’m usually pretty haphazard about clearing away the plants in the fall, lots of years I have garden “volunteers” where old plants have dropped seeds. This year I’ve been slow to get started on the garden for a variety of reasons, including house renovations that have left torn-up sprinklers all over the yeard. I’ve only planted a few things so far, but there are quite a few friends back from last year. Above are green onions that came up (or survived the winter?) in one of my herb beds. I was afraid they’d be bitter, but I used a few of them and they actually tasted fine.

Any of you Utah Food Bloggers who live around here, stop by and get some of this glorious tarragon. I just got the raised beds in my garden last year, and I’m amazed at how having this super-fertile soil has pumped up the plant growth.

I experimented with growing fennel next to the fence, and it didn’t really produce much during the season last year, but now I have two bushy fennel plants that came back. (Don’t know much about fennel so if anyone knows if it’s a plant that takes a few years to come on like asparagus, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.)

I also have two rows of swiss chard that either lived over the winter or started from seeds that dropped in the fall. I’m guessing the lived all winter though, judging by how they looked before I cleaned them up. The chard is a little bitter, but I haven’t had the heart to pull them out, and I’m also wondering if I could cut them back and have the new growth be good.

Next to the chard are two rows of this red russian kale that I liked so much last year. It definitely survived the winter because the stalks are thick and gnarly, and the kale is a little bitter too. (If any experienced gardeners know if I can rescue these plants with a vigorous trimming, please speak up.)

There are quite a few perennial herbs that don’t winter over in Utah, but this purple sage survived beautifully, and in the left corner is some Greek oregano that’s also happy as can be. I trimmed these a few weeks ago and they’re filling in nicely.

Of course nothing can prevent mint from coming back, even when you neglect it terribly and plant it in a part of the garden that hardly gets any water. This is peppermint, and I’m going to cut it way back because I’m planting some larger-leaf spearmint farther down the fence. (If you’ve never grown mint, don’t put it where it can spread out or it will overtake your entire yard. I have a plantic barrier that keeps my mint from traveling.)

Finally even though it’s a rather fuzzy photo (and the bird disappeared by the time I went inside to get my telephoto lens) but this woodpecker has already taken up a perch on the electric pole that’s in my neighbor’s yard by the southwest corner of my garden. The contractors tell me he comes back over and over all day, pecks at the wood for a while, and then flies away. I’m guessing this means there are bugs living in the pole, but whatever the reason, I love seeing birds in the garden.

This is the first garden update for 2009. When there are more updates, you can see them by clicking 2009 Garden Updates.
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    17 Comments on “Friday Night Photos: 2009 Garden Update #1 (Friends from last year are back.)”

  1. Rosemary is ok as long as the roots don’t freeze; I have a large plant in my flower bed next to the house, and a smaller one out in my garden. Some grass clippings around the smaller one keeps it from freezing during the winter.

  2. Genie, I always love to see what came back!

    Sophie, you’ll love having your own garden. Most herbs are perennials, or at least biennials, except for a few things like basil and cilantro.

    Bob, they’re just regular green onions. I’m jealous if your rosemary winters over. I never seem to manage that. Good to know about the chard going to seed the second year. I think I’ll plant some new rows next to the old ones.

  3. Are those Egyptian onions? Do they get a small bulb on top? I have a patch of Egyptian onions out back that I have been harvesting for several years now. I have also had good luck with oregano, sage, and rosemary wintering over.
    I get quite a bit of chard from the year before. It tries to go to seed in the second year, but you can sometimes get quite a bit of young leaves before it gets too bitter.
    I am gardening out in West Valley City, so our weather is probably quite a lot like yours, unless the elevations differ greatly.

  4. How exciting! I love seeing other people’s gardens.

    This is my first year of veg gardening so it’s nice to know that you don’t have to start from scratch every year.

  5. That’s awesome, Kalyn — I’m really impressed at how much came back! I could never get anything to really overwinter properly in Iowa City except for my lavender and, of course, garlic.

  6. Lydia and Pam, thanks for the reminder about Chives! I don’t know why none of mine came back. I’ll look for some seeds.

  7. Looks good! All of my herbs come back every year, except for basil. Chives are the biggest bully of my herb bed, they are everywhere.

  8. I love seeing things come up in my herb garden in the spring — my chives are back, as is the thyme, garlic chives, and tarragon. I’ve lost my Greek oregano, which is supposed to overwinter here in Zone 5, for the second year in a row. Gave the sage bushes a hard prune, but they are recovering nicely. I envy you your fennel; mine seldom survives the winter, though I see occasional shoots of bronze fennel here and there.

  9. I worked in the garden a little more today, so I have a few more things planted

    Cooking Canuck, send me an e-mail and we’ll figure out how to get you some tarragon! More than enough to share!

  10. Free food! How cool is that. I’m impressed, what with your brutal winters.
    This year I have volunteer onions (irrepressible) and… celery! So funny.

  11. Kalyn, looks like your garden is off to a fine start and you’ll be cooking with the fruits of your labours soon!

  12. I recently received some fennel plants from a neighbor who was dividing hers. I’ve no experience with it, but have 4 plants doing nicely now. I’ll keep you posted with their progress. I’ve got to get a photo for you of the over-wintered cilantro that’s now 2 feet tall in my garden. I’m making salsa and pesto like crazy. It seeds prolifically here.

  13. ooh i love your garden!

  14. My husband has just built me a raised vegetable bed and I am so excited to have my own little wonderland of vegetables. Your tarragon and fennel look beautiful. If you’re looking for someone to give tarragon to, I’m game (I live in Utah).

  15. That has been my experience with fennel: the second year, third maybe you’ll get a good bulb, mine showed up wonderfully last fall.
    Your tarragon, wow, that is beautiful, mine always seems to languish.
    Purple sage is my all time favorite returner! Just gorgeous glorious stuff.
    Love the woodpecker. We have a cardinal I’ve been try to get a photo of but he’s too easy to spook.

  16. Going to the farmers market tomorrow for some nice spring onions! I really enjoy the fresh spring greens too.

  17. Well, the only things that survive in Minnesota (at least in MY garden) are the chives and rosemary and dill. Oh yes, and mint! I’ve got regular chives and garlic chives and they’re both just gorgeous.

    My other herbs I put in pots and take inside until spring.

    I think the chard and kale are probably “gonners” but you never know. Cut them back and see what happens.