I came to an important realization last week. This was that if I continued to wait until the conditions improved, and the sun shone brightly, and the night temperatures stayed consistent, and it stopped raining constantly... I might not begin my gardening season until it was half over. My friends, there is no such thing as a perfect Spring, despite what last year afforded us. Nothing is perfect, and this little fact is one of the things I love most about gardening.
Shit happens, and lots of it. There is a strong possibility that my seedlings will be munched by the bunny I suspect may be living under my deck. The weather might stay crappy all summer and cause diseases, rots, mildews and a poor yield. I might muck everything up myself without outside influence. But the truth of it is that without risks, there are no rewards - it's in the uncertainty of this activity of growing that lies the joy of it.
It was with that simple realization in mind that I planted my first 2 veggie beds of the season on Monday, in the pouring rain, with cold-hardy veggies and seeds. I tied up my old, weather-worn bamboo poles into tripods with twine I found in the shed with chilly, damp fingers covered in clay, and prodded peas into the soil beneath in the hope that they will eventually climb to the top. I set out my seedlings, having coddled them since early March, into the mucky dirt in the hope that they'll thrive and will eventually form heads of broccoli and stalks of brussels sprouts. I drew lines into the earth and dropped tiny beet, radish and carrot seeds into the spaces available in the hope that they won't be washed away before they have a chance to germinate. I constructed a crude little cold frame out of u-shaped bamboo canes and an old plastic drop sheet in the hope that it just might help one bed germinate faster than the other.
It was cold.
It was muddy.
It was messy.
I was happy in every moment of it.
And I am hopeful.
|New beds were dug last weekend - good thing!|
Rain, rain, go away... and take this April snow with you too! It's a good thing that last weekend was so productive, because this weekend was a disaster! I started creating brand new veggie beds while the sun was shining last week, and was planning to set out all of the broccoli, brussels sprouts, leeks and onions today. Add to that sowing of some beets, lettuces, radishes and some early carrots and it was promising to be a nice, busy weekend. Hmph - best laid plans, right?
Ah well. While I'm waiting for the weather to cooperate, here's a look at how my veggie beds are shaping up and how I went about creating them...
|The season begins with planning & measuring.|
|My existing soil is lovely, rich and free of toxins or heavy metals.|
|The sod is turned over with a spade and I worked it in by hand, filling in large air pockets.|
|The hand-worked soil looked great!|
|Organic matter like composed manure further improves the soil.|
|The finished bed, ready for planting!|
|One down, three to go. Lola Mo knows it's not as easy as it looks.|
So, if it ever stops snowing, the next step is seeding and planting beds 1 & 2 with brassicas, onions, lettuces, and root veggies, to start. Are you in a more fortunate climate than I? What have you planted so far?
In the near future, I'll share my planning process with you, and discuss the benefit of my 4-bed system. Until then, happy growing!
|Image borrowed from ellaflor.com|
I picture myself standing barefoot in grass; not soft, but smooth like straw. The leaves of the tomatoes are fragrant from the late afternoon thunderstorm that shook the trees for fifteen minutes and then departed to wreak it's havoc eastward. Golden rays now filter onto my face, dappled from the hulking maple in the neighbours' yard. Beans groan on the trellises, twined thickly and begging to be picked... I know what's for dinner tonight.
Kids shout and throw things in the park across the street. I can't see them, but their voices carry to my yard in the humid air, and the dog sits up with ears pricked, but doesn't bark. I bend and pluck halfheartedly at some chickweed in the carrot bed, but at this point in the summer, the plants have won the battle for dominance in the veggie patch and it's little more than idle habit. The garden is a grand and wild spectacle now, with grasses that talk in the evening breezes and coneflowers in a carnival of pinks and oranges that hum with bees. As the storm eases further away, the sun strengthens to awaken the cicadas, and their thrumming songs resume in the trees as they whine to one another.
Sweet summer... you're only a breath away. I ache for your warmth and bounty. When you return, I'll welcome you with open arms and heart.
I love Novella Carpenter. I've never met her, I don't know her personally, but after reading her amazing account of turning an abandoned lot in a bad part of Oakland into a thriving little farm in her book, Farm City, I felt like I knew her.
Well, Novella's in trouble. If you've been following the saga in the blogs, I'll spare you the details, but basically the city of Oakland is slapping her with a fine for unauthorized use of her land and she needs to purchase a $2500 permit in order to sell her produce, or face shutting down the farm. With about $2500 being the amount that she makes in a year of selling her surplus in a pop-up stand, you can see the conundrum. You can read the whole story on her blog here, and if you've got a few extra bucks that you can spare via PayPal, I'm sure it would be appreciated.
Novella is a hero to me, and she's been a source of inspiration to countless thousands of others just like me. If I can help in any way, you can be damn sure that I will.
|Linda at Tree & Twig Heirlooms will host her annual Tomato Days event on the May long weekend this year.|
On the May long weekend, Linda at Tree & Twig Heirlooms will host her annual Tomato Days sale, where unthinkable numbers of tomato seedlings will be available to purchase, along with other started veggies. I won't be able to resist expanding my collection, but for others, the event presents a unique opportunity to get in on the grow-your-own action and to meet others who want to do the same.
Check out Linda's post on her blog about Tomato Days, and mark it on your calendar!