The garden was planted a little over a month ago, and I’m amazed at how fast things have grown. Since this is the first garden I’ve ever had, I don’t have a point of reference for plant growth patterns; I suppose they’re growing at typical rates that just seem fast to me.
The arugula is ready for harvesting, so last week we had a peppery arugula salad with pear, prosciutto, goat cheese, olive oil, and honey. It was great to be able to pick a few dollars worth of produce that started out from a $2.00 seed packet.
The red cabbage and cauliflower leaves are as big as my hand; they’re in the front of the first box. Carrots and rainbow chard, also in the first box, will probably be ready in two to three weeks.
There are five tomato plants, and one has about six tomatoes growing on it. The others are starting to bud and should be bearing fruit soon. One of my favorite scents is a tomato plant (or a tomato fresh off the vine); I find myself lingering by the tomatoes when I water the garden, and will rub one of the leaves to help release the scent.
I’m excited about the fennel. A single organic bulb is around $4.00 at the grocery store, so growing it in the garden saves money. The fronds look like a miniature forest right now.
The cucumber plants are flowering, and one of the pepper plants has flowers and the start of a promised mammoth jalapeno, according to the plant name tag.
The zinnias are getting taller, and are even more vibrant than ever.
I use a watering can and water from the cistern at the bottom of the raised beds to water the plants. Reusing rainwater in the garden means less fresh water is used outside (as long as the cistern contains enough water; the hose has been used as backup a couple times). I’ve come to enjoy being outside watering and tending to the garden—it’s calming and has made me pay attention to the soil, the progress of plant growth and the condition of leaves/vegetables, and insects that inhabit the raised beds. It’s a whole new ecosystem to learn about and explore!
Learn more about our project at www.thenewnorrishouse.com.
The New Norris House is a design/build effort from the University of Tennessee's College of Architecture and Design. Began in 2009, the home was designed and built by UT students in collaboration with Clayton Homes. The built project is now complete and the final phase of the project has begun. A team of 4 people (2 living in the home, and 2 graduate researchers) will rigorously document the experience via qualitative assessments and quantitative measurements, posting results to this blog.