Outdoor gardening has begun!

Hard to believe: I’m 49 years old, and I have never made refried beans before. That was until yesterday. I was feeling pretty bored of my usual set of meals; there were some Insta-Pot-made black beans in the fridge; and I wondered what new I could make with them. I started looking up recipes on the internet and happened upon some basic directions to preparing this Mexican side dish.

I should note that I was not in a good mood beforehand. But once I started the cooking preparation, my frame of mind changed. Why? I love the food creation process (e.g. growing veggies in my garden), and while I am not nearly as good at it, I kind of like the creation process with food (e.g. making something from scratch, whether it be from a recipe or simply throwing some things together to see how they will taste).

Talking about food in its different stages, I decided to plant my warm-weather seeds this weekend — a couple of weeks earlier than the generic advice advises. But I’ve looked at the 10-day forecast, and the lows do not fall below 40 degrees anytime during that period. (You definitely don’t want frost if you’ve planted warm-weather crops.) Funny thing is, I planted my cool-weather crops two weekends ago. The weekend before that, I believe, brought with it snow, lows in the mid-20s, and frozen topsoil. (It’s best to not have a hard frost — below 28 degrees for 4 or more hours — with cool-weather crops.). So, this year, the cold-weather crops were started late, and the warm-weather crops were started early.

Oh, and because the weather was perfect yesterday, I did a little hardening off of my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.

So what should be in this year’s garden (if everything survives the weather, pests, and me)? For cool-weather crops, I have three kinds of carrots, two types of kale, a mixed pack of leaf lettuce, some arugula, a pack of Red Orach, two varieties of spinach, and roughly 40 onion sets. As for warm-weather crops, I have three kinds of zucchini, one golden summer squash, one type of eggplant, two varieties of peppers, five varieties of tomatoes, several different packets of herbs, an tea-making flower, and (to really attract the pollinators), four varieties of sunflowers — from the shorter, bushier Mexican Torches to the towering Titan variety.

I also have three varieties of amaranth, which I haven’t decided if I am going to plant them or not.

While listing it seems (and is) impressive, most years I have even more varieties of some of the veggies listed above — primarily as a way to save myself from losing all of one vegetable to pests. I also usually grow several varieties of winter squash. But last year squirrels decimated each fruit, making me sour on growing them this year. Some years, I also grow beetroot, cabbage, peas and potatoes. The layout just did not allow that this year.

Finally, the arugula popped through the soil a few days ago. The rest of the greens shouldn’t be that far behind.

Garden on, friends!