Friday, April 19, 2013

And Again: "Spring?"

    A month ago I was complaining about how cold March was. Now it is a month later and everything seems exactly the same. True, the crocuses and then daffodils finally made it up. I can even see a few tiny tulips. And the grass is a bit greener, though much of the forsythia is just now starting to pop.

     Still, one has to pay attention to notice the changes from a month ago. Many of the tasks I laid out for us last month can also still be done today. This is probably a good thing, since the cold kept many of us indoors in any case.

     One exception is bed preparation. A month ago I mentioned how you can tell if your soil is dry enough to till your flower and vegetable beds. As luck would have it, my neighbors had a new clean-out installed in their drain that involved digging a big hole in the middle of their yard. I wandered over, grabbed some dirt from the pile and discovered that it was the perfect consistency for tilling.

Post flood beds-- a bit lumpy but unbowed

     Thanks to this sheer accident I was able to till my beds during the last week of March -- mixing all the compost I had added from my drum into the bed last fall. My wife Wan and I have fun in the winter devising a new, revised map for our garden based on our experience from the year before. In March we were ready to bring the map outdoors and build our raised beds within the 22'x 28' veggie patch.

Early broccoli and Brussels sprouts

     Given that our springs are frequently cold and wet, I like to use raised beds. Raising them gives the new seedlings better drainage and allows the soil around them to warm up more quickly. Beds that are higher than the pathways also helps provide a "no feet allowed" zone to keep plant roots happy. I usually make my beds three feet wide and leave a full two feet for pathways. It is always a good idea to provide walkways big enough to keep the gardener happy as well as the plants. I cover the plants with re-usable landscape cloth and use the extra to cover the beds where things like tomatoes will go later.

     By April first I had planted snow and sugar snap peas, rapini, romaine, radishes, parsley, chard, and spinach in addition to the broccoli and friends. Most of these survived the recent flood. Any casualties will turn out to be seeds that can easily be replaced.

     Those of you who did not jump when you had a chance will now have to wait 40 days and 40 nights for the floods to recede. Well,... maybe not quite that long.