Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Garden Update

The weather has finally given us a beautiful weekend to work in the garden. Our snow is still melting in some areas, but now we have a decent area to play with. We planted two types of carrots, Nelson and Bolero, in a bed that we had just spread with our overwintered red wigglers and their casings. I've read that this is the best food for carrots and last year our harvest was improved by the vermicompost. The overall worm population in the garden is really remarkable. They've broken down all of last year's goat hay mulch into a rich substance I am tempted to call soil. However, they have also done some damage to our vegetables, so I made an effort to run the chickens over some older beds prior to planting.

Adjacent to the carrots, we planted two types of parsnip, Javelin and Lancer (OP), along with some burdock and radishes. I first read about burdock on a blog called "Living the Frugal Life" and I'm anxious to see if this root vegetable, similar to parsnip, will give us another spring dug treat to rely on during these starving months preceding the summer's bounty. The sandy nature of our soil should make it easy to store more root vegetables outside instead of limiting ourselves by what the refrigerator crisper can hold. The overwintered parsnips that we dug last week were gorgeous and a welcome addition to our meaty dinners.

Sugar snap and Oregon Giant snow peas went in just behind the carrots. I have a bad habit of not leaving enough space between rows because I'm always worried we'll run out of room for everything planned. This is going to catch up with me this summer when I need to weed the carrots. Whoops!

It took most of the weekend to transplant our starts of broccoli, red cabbage, kale, and chard. Immediately after planting, we installed row covers as a defense against cabbage moths. I also put in three varieties of edamame and some purple bush beans. It's much too early here for beans, but we're trying fava beans, which are very cold hardy, for the first time this year and I foolishly grouped all the "beans" together. Hopefully they will germinate before rotting in the cool wet soil.

Some blue potatoes went in a very sandy spot behind the asparagus and next to the compost pile, so I can top dress easily throughout the season. These originally came from the grocery as baby roasting potatoes, a few years back. Last year, the uneaten spuds began to sprout and I dug them in just to see what would happen. We were impressed with the yield and vigor of the plants. With such a small space to garden, it's impossible to grow all our own potatoes and I'd rather plant something with a more efficient output, but at the end of the season fresh potatoes are delicious and fun to dig. In some ways, it just wouldn't be a garden without a potato row.

This weekend among the quiet but familiar beds and sprouting raspberry canes, with so much gardening and backyard farming ahead of us, I actually began to wonder where the winter had gone so quickly. Such a break gives us a fresh and hopeful start to an improved season of eating.

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