I haven’t gone out to Dave’s farm this week to work. The spring rains started up Sunday night and continued, off and on, into Tuesday, catching a brief pause yesterday before starting up again today. We had hoped to clean up some of the vegetable beds, pulling the remnants of last year’s crops in preparation for setting out transplants in a couple of weeks, but each evening I waited for word from the boss man, only to hear that it was still “muddy as hell” out in the fields and that I needn’t bother to come out.
And so it goes. Welcome to Spring.
Late last week, at least, on the very cusp of a new season, the warmth and sunshine conspired to draw me outside to work in my own garden patches to get ready for this year’s crops.
I started on Friday with a visit to garden #1, just around the corner and behind a friend’s house. While I wasn’t ready to yank all the weeds and such out of the soil, just to leave it bare for a few more weeks, I did check on the sprouting garlic (top) and the reviving peppermint and lemon balm (above). I harvested small clumps of both the mint and the lemon balm, as well as two small bunches of pac choi that had overwintered well enough to continue growing this spring. What a treat!
Despite the early date, I decided to take a chance and plant the first outdoor seeds of the season. I reasoned that as long as I planted cold-hardy crops, sowed them close to the stone foundation of the house, and mulched them heavily with straw, it would be worth the risk. So I wielded my new collinear hoe to clean up the soil in that area, then laid down a line of fava beans, another of sugar snap peas, and a small row of hon tsai tai (an Asian green) and claytonia (or miner’s lettuce, normally found growing wild). Will they survive whatever late snows and frosts get thrown at them — and thrive? I hope so.
On Saturday, I visited garden #2, in the backyard of my adopted “family” in town. My goal in this visit was to gauge what work might need to be done in coming weeks, to refresh my memory as to what was planted last year (before sketching out a garden plan for this year), and to harvest the remaining root vegetables.
Yes, I still had loads of parsnips and even some small carrots still in the ground. Having last harvested some on Christmas Eve, I never made it back to the garden before the hard freezes of January and the snowstorms of February made me lose sight of the roots completely. Happily, they came up easily this time, covered in thick black mud that smeared across my hands, and I filled a bag with sweet vegetables.
A few green onions lingered in the garden, but again, I didn’t worry about clearing weeds and preparing the beds just yet since I won’t get back to plant seeds for another couple of weeks. It was enough to visit and reacquaint myself with what remained.
Later in the weekend, I sat down with my seed list and sketched out the two gardens, as well as another plot I hope to tend this year. In each, I penciled in last year’s crops before writing in what I planned to grow this year, rotating the crops around and using companion herbs and vegetables to fill in the beds. After that, I designated a sort of grid for each garden and figured out what could be planted first and when. It pleased me to notice that I had managed to place all the early crops together in each garden, making it easier to plan my weeding and seeding in a couple of weeks.
As you might guess from a glimpse of the seed inventory list I shared a couple weeks back, I probably have way more seed than I have room to plant this year. My garden plans, though they look ambitious and spacious on paper, will likely prove once again to handle only so much planting. But that has never stopped me before, and it won’t stop me this year, either.
I might even have to check out a possible new garden plot in town. And I’ll keep my hopes high for this year’s harvest.