There is no doubt summer is here! Hallelujah! Well, kind of. I’m so thankful for the seasons, and all they bring and beautiful things we enjoy from their personalities. But summer is probably my least favorite time of the year. It’s hot, humid, streets are crowded, airfare sky rockets, and the hustle and bustle is just a bit overwhelming sometimes. Spring, fall, and winter? Yes, bring them on all day, every day. Summer… meh. I can take it or leave it. Until we get to benefit from the temperature and the natural course of life.
This spring, as we enter summer today/tomorrow, has been extremely busy with a plethora of projects and fantastic work, both professionally and personally. The biggest personal one at home has been building our first ever garden! Oh my goodness me, how exciting. The yield has been so satisfying and delicious to say the least. But.who.knew.so.much.work.goes.into.this.right.here.???
If you’re a Flanboyant Eats reader you know this isn’t our official first garden. My parents started one in the backyard a few years ago. They were only potted herbs, though. But that planted the seeds to grow a real one.
I know I’m meant to live on a farm. Own a ranch with lots of horses. Maybe some cattle; not too many though. Some chickens that hatch eggs. Have the cutest Wellies and finally have an appropriate environment to wear my real Stetson cowboy hats. Oh because yes, I have three from 12 years ago.
This idea of living on a farm has always attracted me, but it’s become more and more poignant in the last 4-6 years as my work in the culinary field have taken me to dairy and beef farms out west, in Mexico and France, where I’ve mingled with farmers and cattle. I’ve seen some nitty, gritty stuff. And I’ve been sharted on. In all the ding, dung, and cow carcasses, I’m still all about it.
This city girl will go country in a minute.
But until that happens, a home grown garden will keep the dream alive.
This is all my dad’s work, really. I’ll be totally honest. I’ve just supported him and helped me him here and there, consulting, watering, cleaning, cutting, and storing. Even in that, I was unaware of the amount of work it involves to grow just 12 crops.
Cucumber grows wild and out of control.
Radishes don’t like to cooperate. They aren’t growing really big.
Parsley and cilantro dance really well together and behave so nicely.
Garlic? We have no idea what’s she’s thinking.
Collards are flirting with us.
Scallions are show offs.
Tomatoes are MIA.
Fennel has disappeared as if we never planted her.
Onions? What? Who cares. She’s been out.
A buttery lettuce came out of nowhere but so tasty.
This Swiss chard is scrumptious.
And a few more I’m forgetting to mention.
So while it’s all been wonderful tending to the soil and learning as we go, fixing our irrigation, adjusting our mini landscape to accommodate for proper lining, and praying for water in moderation, and building some barriers so the deer can keep away, it’s been some work. We’ve been challenged with figuring out some mysterious occurrences along the way. Like trying to diligently identify what creatures are tearing up the cucumber and collards. We’ve not figured that one out yet. So we pulled them before they ate them. Rather us than it, right?!
And more recently, I did properly conclude the white webby stuff on the top layer of the soil is nothing but mold due to moisture saturation, ie. too much rain. We got slammed last week. That just means we have to go back to adjust our draining system. Again.
See! It’s not all just plant and pull.
This is no joke.
BUT! The most important thing is that we’re growing our own food, though a small amount, comparatively speaking, and we’re putting our food on our table, knowing exactly where it’s coming from.
And that’s worth it all.
Now it’s just time to share our haul with family and friends, because surely, the four us here at home can’t possibly eat all of this (it’s way more than the pictures suggest), before it goes bad. But I’ve been having equal fun teaching my had how to store fresh vegetables and herbs.
And what a great father/daughter project!
A happy Cuban in DC, playing the part of a true campesino.
A proud Cuban in DC showing off his crop!
A humble Cuban in DC, acknowledging the work full-time farmers put in to make sure we get quality foods.
And this is a partial view of our garden, planted at the entrance of our driveway, for all our neighbors to enjoy as they walk their dogs in the morning or take a relaxing evening stroll. It’s a great conversation starter before and after work! They all want to know when to expect their goodie bags.
I’m so, so proud and excited for my dad. It’s his therapy and his idea of beautifying their house. Plus, my dad is a salad snob and now there is NO excuse for not having a fresh one every day. I had my first one two nights ago and I just devoured it. What a difference.
Welcome to Herrera Gardens. Where Life is Good!
** Make sure to read my new magazine B! Inspired, a lifestyle magazine for the person looking to live the best life! Our preview/soft launch issue now online and available for download.
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.