Spring gardens are pretty easy. Cooler temps mean fewer weeds and pests, making the spring garden a less daunting introduction to the season.
Previously I have had cabbage worms bothering my kale, but not so far this year. Since putting the plants in the ground, we have consistently gotten about an inch of rain a week, so I haven’t had to water more than a couple of times. I’ve also only fertilized once with liquid fish fertilzer and then yesterday used organic granules on the collards and kale. Maybe my plants would be bigger if I’d pumped them full of miracle grow, but organic gardening on the cheap is my thing. I want to produce a lot of food while using few resources. And any amendments I do use should enrich the long term quality of the soil.
I’m grateful that this garden and I have been really lucky. Everything is growing beautifully right now.
1/21 leafy greens seeds started (84 days); 2/17 transplanted, also snowpea seeds and green onion seeds; 3/11 strawberry bare roots in (35 days), also beet carrot & turnip seeds
The moon is barely a waxing crescent. It was new just two days ago. I recently learned that waxing is for above ground crops, waning for below. Crescents are for leaves and gibbous are for fruits. So I guess I maybe should have waited a week or so for the snow peas but oh well. Also, plant when the moon is in an earth or water sign, never fire or air. The moon will be in Pisces until noon tomorrow when it moves into Aries.
Last year my dad told me to plant by the moon (using the Farmer’s Almanac website). I told him that I didn’t have time for that nonsense, but ended up with a lot of germination trouble. (Sorry, Dad.) With a little planning it really isn’t hard, so I’ve decided to try and plant by the moon this year.
January 20th I started my leafy greens and today, with the help of Tilly (the tiller) and Gordon who spent 2 hours with Tilly earlier this week, the babies went into the ground.
So it doesn’t look like much now, but it’s very well spaced and I think the plants will be huge and lovely soon enough.
I transplanted collards, broccoli, kale, chard, lettuce, mizuna, and arugula. Also planted seeds of green onions and snow peas.
Silas helped me for a little while and gleefully proclaimed, “This is just like 2016 when we spent a lot of time in the garden together!” Five minutes later he started whining that he wanted to do something fun and ditched me to go into the house. (Yes he describes his memories by year and yes it’s weird.)
Tomorrow morning Gordon and I are installing his lovely addition to the chicken coop.
We ate some kale fresh, gave a lot to the chickens, but largely my spring crop was ignored. The day I (finally) processed the chard, I already knew that the kale needed attention. And that was over a month ago.
My lovely abundant garden is a weedy mess. It’s time to start working on fall stuff (which will likely be minimal because I’m wearing down) and I really need to get in there and do some cleaning. So I started with cleaning out the kale.
The kale was tough and may not come out very good but we are going to eat it, damn it!
Outside we washed it, pulled it apart, and deveined it. Then I brought the big washtub in and began processing it, batch by batch. I scooped up big bowls full, chopped it, sorted through it, washed it in a vinegar bath, transferred it to a plain water bath, then steamed it. After finding two cooked baby caterpillars, I freaked out and sorted through all the steamed stuff again, and washed it a fourth time before packing my jars. After two pressure canning batches (and about total 12 hours of kale fun) I was still quietly and secretly fretting over the amount of suprise protein that may be in the jars.
But then I read this article and felt a hell of a lot better! My cans are probably worlds less buggy than the ones I buy. And they are poison free, to be sure! I tell my kids to eat earthworms if they ever get lost in the woods and so if they find a caterpillar, I’ll just tell them it’s their survival training.
To invest in something – your money, your time, your learning, your effort and care – and then to take risks with it, is either stupid or brave or maybe it’s science. Well whatever it is, it happens every single go-round with this gardening thing.
You do your research, plan your steps, make your purchases, set it all up for success. But once you actually begin and cross that threshold, shit happens. It’s inevitable and so therefore is the risk factor. What to do now? Something or nothing? It’s a risk either way. And so here you are: weeks into a project where time really matters, staring into the face of a likely failure that could definitely affect everything going forward into the season.
Gardening is not for the faint of heart.
If you gardened your whole adult life, from the time you are 25 to the time you are 75, you would only get 50 practice runs. Imagine that in the context of a musician or an athlete. Nobody would be any good. So here we are, the make it or break it lot, the do or die bunch, the “eh fuck it, there’s always next year” sort.
There will be failure, death (of the plant sort), trial and oh-so-much error. It’s just how it goes. In order to do it, you have to be willing to lose what you’ve worked for because chances are pretty good that you may.
So here I am. Brave woman. Disturbing roots and replanting seedlings deeply. Hoping my Chinese Cabbage doesn’t immediately bolt when I put it into the garden (I read that was a thing). Hoping my skinny leggy mustard greens and bok choy don’t rot when I bury them better.
But truth be told, I’ve never had any problems with transplanting anything. The good broccoli plants I have now (that did survive the ice and snow, by the way) were initially leggy newborns that I re-planted up to their scrawny necks. So maybe I’m not that risky and brave. Maybe I have a bit of experience on my side. Either way, this old lady gets a feeling that teeters between exhilaration and terror during these dealings.
To elaborate on the ice/snow storm frozen broccoli/brussels outcome, we have some burned leaves but that seems to be it. Maybe the ice coating protected my green babies, but we got down to 12 degrees F two nights in a row and everything survived.
(Notice how healthy and green the weeds look. Wtf.)
Back to my present endeavors.
Three trays now hold various brassicas, herbs, and flowers. Here’s what I’ve got going so far:
And here is their normal home:
I was working with two lights initially and just added the other three a few days ago. Hopefully it helps with future legginess because I estimate having three more 50 cell trays before spring comes.
…I’m curious to see what happens to my garden after this. The kale, brussels sprouts, and broccoli have done very well up to now. We’ve been into the twenties on several occasions, but have never had precipitation. Also tomorrow night is supposed to drop to around 10. I’m in zone 7b and will soon find out just how much my babies can take.
think thou needest effing light before your first true leaves arrive? And why dost thou still stretch out for the daytime skylights in the mudroom after spending all night under a grow light in the basement?
Why don’t my plants seem to follow the rules? Little brats. They are cute with their little baby broccoli selves, though. Maybe it’s just because broccoli is a floppy baby anyway?
Do I have the energy to plant a fall garden? Can I hack up the grass and move my decrepit containers and amend the soil and have a round three for 2016? Is it worth it? Will the slugs and caterpillars demolish all of my brassicas before they’re even much of anything? Will planting in the actual earth be worse for pests than even my containers were?
My dirt seems way too full of life as I hack it up. Grubs and beetles and random freaky looking guys. My hamstrings and shoulders get destroyed after only an hour or two. Why the fuck don’t I have a tiller yet? Too lazy to ask for the help in getting one I guess. I’d rather hack, hack, hack.
Except I’m tired and I haven’t been hacking very much.
Is this going to happen? Motivation is low due to the shitty little harvests following high hopes over summer. I loved it, I did. But is it time to rest now instead of hacking up the earth to meet a seasonal deadline?
Don’t know. Leggy babies after a half-hearted planting waiting for my broken body to fix the dirt in the heat makes me question it for sure.