Victory Garden 2021 Underway!

I’m about two weeks late getting my Victory Garden in this year … because life. But, over the weekend I got everything underway and I suppose the best upside to the delay is that we’ll get veggies into the fall. Optimism, right?

I sketched the layout in my garden journal and started seeds in early April. None of my shishito or cucumber seeds took (boo, hiss), but the okra, green beans, cucumbers, and bell peppers were successful. I amended my seedlings with tomatoes from the Carrboro Farmers Market, and cucumbers and rainbow chard from Country Farm & Home. I’ve also started a second batch of shishito seeds this week and am transferring the balance of my karma patience points their way. In my raised beds, I’ve got butter crunch lettuce, the chard, and herbs (cilantro, basil, oregano, sage, thyme); in an open spot on the side of the house, nestled between batches of irises and camellias, are some potatoes that my friend Johnny gave me. And back along the edge of the woods by my husband’s honeybees, we’re growing watermelons because the chickens love them as much as our son does. The final prep will be a little patchwork to the landscaping fabric in the main garden because over the winter that asshole June Carter Cash, who loves to fly the coop and hang out in the garden abutting the chicken hut, scratched it up — but otherwise, Victory Garden 2021 is a Go!

What are you planting this year?

Lavender syrup

Lavender is one of my favorite plants … it’s an herb, it’s a flower, it’s a perennial, it’s a mosquito-repellent. It’s Mediterranean, and makes me think of our trips to Rome, Spain and France. If I close my eyes and walk through the lavender in our gardens, it transports me back to some of my very favorite memories with my very favorite people. Growing and caring for lavender is very easy, and best of all, now is the time to plant it! I discovered through trial and error (which I probably could’ve asked about) that it’s best to leave the lavender as it is in the fall, rather than trimming it back for the winter. If you trim it back, it’s done. Kaput. But if you let the branches and leaves get dried and dead looking, surprisingly, they green-up in the spring. Lavender is great for clipping and bringing inside, and either enjoying in a vase with water or letting it dry. Once dry you can sew it into eye masks or add it to potpourri (that’s old school). Or, if you’re like my son, make lavender syrup for coffee and to drizzle over vanilla ice cream. I also like a dash of it in a glass of Prosecco. 🙂

Lavender syrup:

Clip a handful of lavender leaves and flowers (equal parts of both). In a saucepan, add 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and the lavender, and bring to a boil. Stir it regularly until the sugar dissolves (about 4 minutes), then turn it off and let it steep for half an hour. Pour into Ball jars or pretty glass containers through a strainer, and let cool completely. It’ll last for about a month in the fridge, so I find it’s better to make it in small batches so it doesn’t mold before I can use it all.