Welcome to Garden Booyah

I grew up a farmer’s daughter, but much of my adult life has been spent in the city. That is until the fall of 2008, when my husband, Randy, and I bought a house on an acre of land just outside the city limits south of De Pere. Truth be told, I really wasn’t up for the move. While I wanted to find a place out in the country and get a bigger space for our growing family, I wasn’t thrilled about moving for the third time in less than 10 years. And the house Randy found needed a lot of TLC. I needed convincing. A walk around the yard one summer evening as the real-estate agent tended to other business in the house helped do just that. A neighbor’s garden beckoned me closer and I saw his thriving tomatoes, strawberries and asparagus.

Garden with our house and garden shack in background

It was enough to make my mouth water – I could easily see my own garden sharing space next to his. We moved in on Labor Day weekend, had a beautiful fall and I fell in love with our new neighborhood. Three and a half years later, while our house still needs a lot of rehabbing, I’ve come to enjoy it and the freedom the property allows me to garden to my heart’s content.

We moved at the end of the growing season, so I had all winter to think about how I was going to tear up the backyard for a garden. It had once been a cow pasture, so I was pretty sure it would be fertile ground for fruits and vegetables. One spring morning, I rented a sod cutter and spent the day creating a 30-foot-by-40-foot garden space. Randy helped buy and haul old railroad ties to border the garden, as well as install fencing to discourage the neighborhood gang of deer.

That first year, my garden consisted of what I had always wanted to grow: tomatoes, potatoes, sweet corn, beans, peas, raspberries, asparagus and strawberries. The corn grew tall, but the ears molded on the stalk. Neighbor Jack told me he had no luck trying to grow corn, but I didn’t listen. What berries the strawberries did produce were small and hard – and the birds got them anyway. I didn’t realize how much patience it takes to grow asparagus. On the other hand, I had enough tomatoes to eat for lunch, supper and a snack between. And the peas and beans produced several tasty meals. The raspberries even had a few berries that first summer.

2010 was the year of weeds in my garden – not exactly the spice of choice in my garden booyah. It was a hot, wet summer and I just could not keep up with the weeds. Most of my potatoes and onions rotted in the wet ground. Tomatoes were so-so. But I had enough beans and carrots to freeze and the raspberries produced a few more berries than the previous summer.

Last spring, my lack of patience got the better of me and I tilled under the strawberries and asparagus. I planted pumpkins in their place and got much more satisfying results. Sixteen pumpkins of varying sizes made cute jack-o-lanterns and delicious roasted pumpkin seeds. I tried lettuce, too, and was surprised to get enough for a salad for work every day for 3-4 weeks, topped off with fresh cherry and grape tomatoes. The tomatoes, along with beans, peas, carrots and raspberries helped put fresh fruit and veggies on the table daily all summer long and drew raves often from my in-laws, who spent the summer with us.

Now, the countdown is on to this spring – the last frost date for Green Bay area is May 10-16! It’s time to start thinking about what worked last summer and what I can improve on this summer. I can hardly wait to work the dirt and share my “garden booyah” with you!

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