Whew! Spring is always a busy time for gardeners but I made it even busier by not completing the projects and chores in the garden last fall. I did manage to finish gopher-proofing 7 of the 9 raised beds, protect the beds with straw mulch, plant two beds with 4 different garlic cultivars. The biggest project, a large flat squash bed using the sheet mulch method did not get started. Our wicked winter of over 100 inches of snow hit earlier than I planned and to be honest, I just closed the gate and greenhouse until the snow melted. Last year was one of transition and frustration.
Spring has barely arrived – it took forever for the snow to melt and even longer for it to warm up enough to think about seed-starting and planting. At 42 degrees this morning, it’s hard to believe that the summer solstice is only 11 days away.
INTERNS: This year I am lucky to have two wonderful interns who come on Wednesdays to help in the garden in exchange for some education, a portion of the harvest and some medicinal herb making & learning. They are worker bees and have helped me move forward with a variety of projects.
IN THE GREENHOUSE: Seed-Starting, Germination & Seed Hoarding
I admit it: I am a seed hoarder. When the seed catalogs arrive in winter I always order too many seeds. My seeds are not always treated well: They get tossed into plastic bins, left in the hot greenhouse during the season, eventually finding their winter resting spot in the freezer. But after several (ok, more than several) years, I simply had too many seeds and likely many had lost their viability.
It was time to empty the seed bin so we spent several hours in the greenhouse seeding trays filled with seed starting mix. We started with the oldest seed first and worked our way through all of the old seed. And then we waited.
Greens, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and onions germinated quickly though the number of plants was smaller than I hoped because of old seed. Fortunately, I have new seeds for future succession plantings.
I traveled in early spring so did not start tomatoes & peppers under lights. And that proved to be a poor decision. Several attempts to start nightshade members failed. So I called a grower friend who had lots of heirloom tomato starts and I traded medicinal herb salves for 8 tomato plants. No pepper plants this year.
Purple basil, anyone? Must have been 100% germination. Friends and family can expect purple basil infused vinegar this holiday season! Genovese & lettuce leaf basil – one plant each. Lots of lemongrass germination though it is clearly waiting for the heat to arrive. A few dill and only two parsley plants.
Flower seeds? Nada! Going to try again this week with the remaining seeds.
GARDEN: Planted and Growing
All nine raised beds are planted:
o Two beds in garlic that will be harvested in mid-July. Radishes and carrots are planted in between the garlic rows. Summer squash starts will go into these beds.
o One bed in peas that have had the hardest time germinating (very unusual).
o One bed in lettuce & turnips- directly sown
o One bed in Lacinto kale, Frizzy Lizzy mustard and Dragon Tongue mustard. Red onion starts are planted around the edges of each bed.
o Two beds in broccoli, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts. Edged in green onion starts.
o One bed in yellow storage onions.
o One bed in fingerling potatoes. I don’t normally grow potatoes because I don’t eat them much but I bought a bag of organic fingerling potatoes that I put in the pantry and then forgot about them. When I pulled them out weeks later they had sprouted so into the garden they went. You can’t plant non-organic potatoes because they have been sprayed to prevent sprouting.
o Strawberries and raspberries were moved to a bed that is not gopher proofed but it appears they don’t like the woody crowns and roots. At least so far…
o A neighbor dropped off 12 free asparagus plants and they were planted into the former strawberry beds.
o The squash bed got started and planted: Laid concrete mesh panels to keep out the gophers and then sheet mulched to create the planting bed. A layer of cardboard that I had been storing in the barn, a thick layer of composted horse manure, a layer of straw, a layer of native soil, a layer of more horse manure and topped with a layer of commercial compost. I then planted sunflower seeds in the back, amaranth plants next, then another row of sunflower seeds (smaller sized) and then my Red Kuri squash plants, using seeds I saved from last year.
My hugelkultur bed is the new home for my tomatoes and tomatillos. I have summer squash and cucumbers germinating for the THIRD time: mice in the greenhouse ate the first set of seeds, so I moved the seed trays out to table in the garden (uncovered) and the birds ate the emerging seedlings and so now they are covered!
Frizzy Lizzy for salads - Dragon’s Tongue for stir fry & salad
Green onions - Radishes
Mint for tea - Chives & blossoms - Lemon Balm - Oregano
Rhubarb (upcoming post on Rhubarb Shrub & Rhubarb leather
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