I did my first real digging in the garden for the season. I’d like to say it was a big session of planting or even working in compost, but it was some less glamorous maintenance. The garden committee, during the annual checking of the corner posts decided to also start policing path encroachments again (there had been some hub-bub last season around that topic.) So it was that my pathside edge where I had sunk boards to slow weed encroachment was torn out and tossed into the plot. The previous gardeners had apparently expanded the garden a bit and I just continued on the tradition.
It only took about an hour of digging and fiddling around to get the boards reinstalled in compliance with the rules—or so I hope. The bare soil along the path now will be seeded with Dutch white clover for the pollinators. I even found some concrete pavers I used to make a welcoming entrance to the plot. Of course, I also restrung that green rope to make it clear that the welcoming entrance is purely visual. It was nice to get into the soil. It’s perfectly moist and friable right now. The veggies are going to love it. I would rather have been working with them, but this was a good warm-up to the season, which has been slow this year. I was reminded once again that the muscles I use to dig are different from the ones I use to lay around and read all winter.
I’m trying to learn a little Spanish to make our expeditions to Latin America more fun and in the process I learned that the Spanish word for spring, the season, is primavera which literally means “first green.” So appropriate. I had my first green salad from the garden the other day and it was so satisfying.
I went to the fridge with the intention of using up the last of the salad mix we’d purchased at the farmers market a while back (a while back) and found it was past its best-by date, to put it delicately. Fortunately, the rain that we’ve been having off and on had broken for a change and the sun was out so I went up to the garden to see if I could find something to put in a salad.
Yay! Green! This is the baby butterhead lettuce, which I like to call Baby Butthead. I had sown it rather thickly so I took the opportunity to take out a few whole plants. I want some to get big enough to make some wraps.
Black kale. This stuff looked so dark and beautiful against the…
Green Oakleaf lettuce.
There’s also red Russian kale. You may have noticed the flea beetle damage on the kales. This is nothing compared to what they do to arugula. I think they’re past the stage of being really vulnerable and a few holes don’t bother me. I just make sure to rinse well.
There was also plenty of spinach. I picked baby leaves and the larger ones from the plants I overwintered. You can see the volunteer dill that has sprung up in the spinach bed. I picked a bunch of that to mix in, too. I’ve discovered how adding a pinch of a fresh herb really brightens up a salad.
I picked and picked into the little bucket I had brought, gently snugging the leaves down as I went. When I got home I started unpacking and washing it all and discovered I’d harvested way more than I thought. I did three salad spinner loads of mixed greens and three of the spinach! So far I’ve had two, very good and fresh big salads and soba noodles with steamed spinach. I’ve got enough for at least one more big salad, several sandwich toppings and I think tonight’s dinner will be a spinach frittata. The leafy goodness is here and I’m going to chow it down every chance I get!
What’s coming out of your garden and into your salad bowl that you’re excited about this season?
A few weeks ago I started testing dozens of packets of seeds and was pleasantly surprised at the results. Most had high rates of germination including the ones most near and dear to me, the tomatoes. Another survivor, which came as no surprise, was the snap peas. Once the testing was over, I just couldn’t bring myself to discard the sprouted seeds so I potted them up. They’re a nice little bit of early gardening and when they’re a little larger I’ll enjoy adding their tender shoots to a salad.
I don’t need to tell you that this past winter felt interminable. It started early. It went deep. And when it should have ended, by my estimation, it lingered. I can almost count the number of good spring days we’ve had so far on one hand. I’m willing to try anything at this point to make the wet, gray weather stop.
Fortunately, some good folks took on the tasks that will ensure that winter is truly over and we can move into what may be left of spring and on t0 summer.
Bells were jingled, sticks struck together, handkerchiefs waved and the Betty gave me a poppyseed cookie.
The May Pole was erected (this is all about fertility, after all) and the revelers manned the ribbons.
The Green Man, who I think might have been quite handsome under all that foliage, watched over all.
And the Winter Witch was dealt with properly…
Let’s hope that everything was done properly and the bad mojo of winter is bound up for good. Now it’s the Maiden’s turn.
I’m taking this as evidence that it’s already starting to work. The cherry tree began blooming the very next day, the latest it ever has. The bees and I are very pleased.
(These cherry blossoms are actually from two year’s ago. Today’s flowers are a sadly meager display)
This afternoon with a nice block of time at my disposal I decided it was time to visit the garden. Naturally, as I left the house it was snowing. Doesn’t even surprise me anymore. Fortunately it was just a brief, dry bout and then it was done. The wind has continued, though.
When I got to the plot it was looking decidedly better than the last time I shared it. The snow is all gone and the top of the soil has thawed everywhere except under the straw bale I stored on one of the beds.
It was time to start actually gardening, I suppose you could say, though my accomplishments were modest. I started by hauling away the remains of the sunflower border I planted along the main path. Some of the stalks had fallen across the path and were making something of a barrier. I’m going to plant the same kind of barrier this year to discourage uninvited guests but with a shorter variety. Some of last year’s plants exceeded ten feet.
Next I pulled the straw back from my spinach overwintering experiment.
Green! I actually wasn’t too surprised to see live plants. It took several years of finding surviving spinach plants among the spring crops I was sowing or transplanting to realize I could probably carry a crop over intentionally. Even after the particularly brutal winter we had they seem to be doing just fine.
The bed where I left two rows of plants looks essentially as it was last fall. I didn’t plan too well so it’s where the onions will need to go in soon. My plan is to transplant the spinach to their correct place in the rotation. They can take it.
Finally, for fun I popped out back just now to get a picture of my first Helleborus to bloom this year. As luck would have it, a dry sleety snow is falling again. Oh, well. It’ll end soon enough and warm up enough for the honeybees to come out and visit the flowers.
You already know it and you’ve heard it a dozen times by now, but this weather is insane. The extended stretch of unseasonably warm weather is wreaking havoc with all manner of botanical timetables. Case in point: our Sargent cherry (Prunus sargentii) that we enjoy so much every year is blooming a full month ahead of schedule. Whatever “schedule” means anymore. Still, it’s welcome beauty.