May is an interesting time in my garden. While colder climes have beds bursting with lettuce and carrots and radishes, my fair weather vegetable garden sits nearly empty, waiting for seedlings to go in the ground or emerge out of the ground.
Gardening in Los Angeles, it’s a blessing that our seasons are so long, with fall and winter vegetables thriving outside from October through April. But by the time the last leafy green has bolted, it’s already too warm to plant a typical spring veggie, yet still too cool for summer crops to fully flourish.
Despite my food garden being a mishmash of leftover crops, May is a beautiful time to be outside. Everything that was dormant is alive again.
Growing by the entrance gate, the deciduous grapevine that I purchased a few months ago is no longer looking like a wintry twig.
My winter savory, lemon thyme, and tricolor sage are all blooming.
My chocolate mint is happy.
The first baby figs are starting to emerge.
My Vietnamese herb bed, which has now become an intoxicatingly fragrant tía tô forest. This green-leaf and purple-leaf herb is also known as perilla or shiso. Somewhere in there also stands a Vietnamese coriander and Vietnamese mint, which I’ll eventually dig out at the end of the season. Last year, when my two (yes, only two!) tía tô plants flowered, I wondered what would happen if I let them reseed freely on their own. Well, hundreds of plants later, now I know.
A view of the upper and main levels of my vegetable garden. Pictured are the remnants of winter, with onions and garlic soon to mature, and the last heads of radicchio bolting.
A view from the other side. To the left, Perpetual spinach chard and komatsuna have been planted in their new bed. French marigolds are scattered throughout the garden to deter pests, and my other beneficials at the top of the picture, anise hyssop and tansy, are growing like crazy.
The incredibly lush Victoria rhubarb is practically busting out of its 4×8 garden box! This was planted by the previous homeowner and I’m guessing it’s a couple years old. I see a long summer ahead with rhubarb jam, rhubarb syrup, and rhubarb crisp. Yum.
It might sound strange, but I love the smell of finished compost being raked over the garden. It’s earthy, fresh, and full of life.
The first edamame seedling has sprouted. When stir-fried with garlic and chiles, it’s my favorite beer munchie.
A gorgeous head of Purple of Romagna artichoke. I can’t bring myself to pluck it off and eat it.
Moving further down the hill to my mid-level garden, my lemongrass is still looking as wild as ever. Hopefully I can start harvesting it this summer!
Another bunch of bananas in bloom. With my four banana trees, I think I get bananas nearly year-round.
A bed of bunching onions and leeks ready for harvest.
Down in the lower garden, the Eureka lemons are ripening. Ooh, my mouth just puckered thinking about their tartness!
And way down at the bottom of the hill, creeping spurge and other persistent weeds are taking over my lower yard. Eeek. Once this level is cleaned up and built out, it will eventually have an outdoor shooting space for my fiancé, a photographer. I’m also trying to decide on the whats, wheres and hows of putting in a few more plants and trees to make this space more productive… it’s definitely a work in progress! (But then aren’t all gardens?!)