We’ve spent all of our free time over the last week working in our garden, and we’ve got nearly everything planted. We had a dumptruck full of compost delivered, so we spent last weekend with our shovels and wheelbarrow, mixing compost into all of our beds. We did the same thing last year, and I think our alkaline clay soil is finally looking pretty good. From now on, we shouldn’t have to have compost delivered – the compost we create ourselves should be enough in future years.
Last year, instead of tomato cages ,we installed metal stakes in a single row down the middle of each tomato bed, and attached chicken wire fencing (six feet high) to the stakes. The beds are only four feet wide, so we had a row of tomato plants on each side of the fencing, and they all climbed up the fence together. In order to rotate our crops, we had to pull out the fencing and move them to other beds last weekend, which was actually a pretty easy process. We got all of our tomato plants – that had been growing in our hydroponic garden for the last several weeks – transplanted out to the new tomato beds a few days ago. We also had peppers that we transplanted outside earlier this week.
Other than the tomatoes and peppers, we’re starting everything outside, from seeds this year. Our potatoes, spinach, and onions have all been in the ground for several weeks now, and are looking good. Most of the potatoes have sprouted and will be ready to be hilled up in another week or two, and the onions are several inches tall. Everything else got planted over the last week, so most of our garden beds still just look like bare dirt – but soon there will be little sprouts everywhere. (I love this time of year – it’s like magic!) We gave one bed to our three-year-old, and we’ve got six more beds (out of 27 total) that still need seeds (those will be getting planted this evening). I had wondered how our garden process would go this spring, since we knew we’d have a brand new baby right at the start of garden season, but so far we’ve managed to stay on track. I’ve done quite a bit of gardening while wearing the baby in the Moby Wrap, and my husband and I have also taken turns working in the garden and taking care of the baby. It’s a bit more of a juggling act, but so far, so good.
All of our fruit trees are looking good, and we’ve had lots of blossoms this spring, so we might even get some fruit this year. The berry bushes are also looking great, and some of the raspberry bushes have already spread out with new growth in a three-foot circle. Last year we planted three beds with asparagus, and those have all come back nicely, as did our rhubarb, and mint plants. Wouldn’t it be nice if all veggies were perennials?
In early March, I planted seeds for various greens into our cold frames, and we’ve been harvesting lettuce, kale, and all sorts of other greens from those beds for several weeks now. Given that we go through at least one large bunch of organic kale/collards/swiss chard, etc. each day, having the growing season for greens extended by a few months each year is definitely a money saver when it comes to our grocery bill.
We’re going to experiment with straw mulch this year, hoping that it will cut down on the amount of weeding and watering that we have to do. I tried hay mulch in one of our beds last year, and practically turned the bed into a sod farm – the grass seeds that were lurking in the bale of hay sprouted like crazy when they got into the nice moist garden bed! We’ve read that straw doesn’t do that, so we’ll see how it goes.
Anyway, I hope all my northern hemisphere readers are having a good spring so far! Have you got your gardens or container gardens going yet?