Friday, March 13, 2015

the beginnings of spring in the garden

Well, spring seems to be arriving early this year, and I am super happy about that. As I get older, the gray of the winters here are getting harder to deal with and I really start craving sunshine towards the end of winter. This winter has been particularly hard due to all my anxiety about health issues, so all this early sun feels especially good.

These photos were taken a couple weeks ago of our over-wintering garden. We planted the first seeds of the year on President's Day, lots of sugar snap peas for the kids' bean teepee and some forget-me-nots and johnny jump-ups in pots on the porch. In the fall we spread cover crop everywhere, and left some hardy plants in the ground. Our garlic and shallots are in there, nestled amongst cover crop, and our sorrel, swiss chard, beets, carrots, arugula, kale and parsley all made it through the winter with no covering.

Every year the garden becomes more fine-tuned to our needs and the kids get better at not squishing the plants. I love parsley and want lots of it, so I spread it generously throughout the yard and am thrilled to have endless amounts of it available. Same with arugula, which ends up always being a perennial for me. We saved a lot of different seeds from last year as well. This year there will be tons of sugar snap peas (which are pricey at the market and everyone loves them), fava beans, beets, lettuces, arugula, spinach, and kale. Radishes and carrots too, because they are fun for the kids. I always want to plant tons of herbs as we can never get enough- basil and thyme are popular around here. I also want to try to grow more flowers, practically none of the flowers I planted last year grew; I think due to a bit of neglect and kids walking all over them.

We have a herb bed in the front part of the backyard which is being taken over by oregano. Every year I try to rein it in, but this year I am hoping to get to it early enough that it doesn't dominate the space by the end of summer. We have a couple strawberries in that bed too that I need to move back to our giant strawberry bed to consolidate them all. That back bed is also one I want to work on. Last year it was garlic, shallots, and strawberries- with a marionberry in back and a lot of flowers and lemon balm. It is pretty rocky and the soil is not ideal, so I want to slowly get most of the rocks out and improve the soil so we can grow lots of veggies in there too. I am planning to take out the marionberry, as it takes up a lot of room, is super thorny, and doesn't fruit much at all. There are so many blackberries everywhere in the northwest, I don't feel like I need them in my backyard.

Since the chickens are gone, and we aren't interested in having them again at this point, I think we will deconstruct the chicken yard and slowly turn it in garden space. It has some limitations, as it is under a giant fir tree, but I think there is definitely some usable space. I would love to plant another plum or cherry or nectarine tree under there. I would like to add some currants out front and maybe a few more elderberries along the grape trellis.

It's supposed to be rainy this weekend, but I am hoping to get most of our early spring seeds in the ground before we head down to California for a couple weeks.

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