My kitchen garden has changed a lot since I last gave you a tour in April. The early spring crops like radishes and spinach are past their season, the warm weather crops are growing like crazy, and we are eating more salad around here than we really care to. And by we, I mean the humans and the chickens.
This is a fun time of year to be a gardener. The hard work of preparing and planting the garden is done and the hard work of harvesting and preserving the harvest is a few months away. In the mean time, I can putter around the garden, planting flowers in pots and playing with the chickens, and just enjoy the peace it brings me. Not to mention, eat a lot of salad.
Here’s a photo tour of my kitchen garden in May.
Early May in my kitchen garden
Nothing says spring like that first radish that you pull from the ground and eat on the spot in the garden. Radishes are one of the quickest and easiest kinds of vegetables to grow. I planted radishes on March 21 and harvested them May 3. That’s six weeks!
Early May also brings flowering fruit trees. We have a pear tree in the backyard that feeds us. This crabapple tree by the front door feeds the birds … and the butterflies.
Food in the garden
It’s crazy how quickly things grow when the days get longer and the frost is out of the air. The photos above and below are of the same cabbage plant taken three-and-a-half weeks apart.
If I am counting correctly, I currently have 23 different kinds of vegetables growing in my kitchen garden. If I count all the different varieties of vegetables (like 5 varieties of tomatoes and 8 varieties of peppers), that number increases by dozens.
There are still a few things left to plant. We wait until June to plant winter and summer squash and melons in an effort to thwart the squash bugs. (The theory is to wait to plant until after the first bugs hatch so they don’t have any squash plants to host their reproductive efforts.) Vining plants are quick and prolific growers, so waiting until June to plant doesn’t impact the harvest.
One of the things I am most looking forward to is fresh garden peas. I grow both the snap and shell variety. I should be eating the first snap peas by sometime next week.
Did I mention we’re eating a lot of lettuce? There are two more varieties not pictured above.
Wild food in my kitchen garden
We planted cilantro on purpose exactly once, I believe. Ever since then, it’s come back on its own, and if we aren’t careful, the stuff will take over the whole garden. I do let some of it go to seed every year because the white flowers are so pretty, so I suppose it’s my own darn fault.
In any event, May is a big month for cilantro around here, starting with adding cilantro to guacamole and tacos on Cinco de Mayo and then to everything else the whole rest of the month. What we don’t eat or preserve, I feed to the chickens.
The health benefits of cilantro to chickens – and humans – include antioxidant and anti-fungal properties.
Pretty things in the garden
My husband planted Columbine seeds last year. They took forever to germinate and didn’t do much of anything after he transplanted them to the garden. But his efforts were rewarded all month with these showy blooms in three different colors.
We live in Iowa, not the tropics, which is why we were amazed to find this orchid growing wild along our nature trail a few years ago. It’s come back every year and is like having a little piece of of Key West – my favorite island paradise – in our own backyard.
Fred is the newest member of the family (at least until the two pullets come in June), and I think he’s awfully pretty (okay, handsome). One of his favorite spots to hang out it on the soft grass outside the garden.
My kitchen garden: A wide angle look