This season has been cold and wet, and we think our about two weeks behind normal. I’m trying to pay more attention to the environment than the calendar to know when to plant things. Our plum tree is finally blossoming, and dandelions are starting to bloom. The pear tree and the young fruit trees are still at bud stage.
Heather planted peas yesterday. She also transplanted kale from the cold frame to the open air garden.
The onions are taking root and starting to grow shoots.
We’ve been slowly harvesting “perpetual spinach” (a type of chard) from one of the cold frames. I’ve also enjoyed harvesting the abundant dandelion greens.
The months of February through June were a series of time-delayed successes.
I learned, relearned, and forgot what I learned–then remembered it again.
All this is to say that today is June 7th and we have fresh sugar snap peas, new spring kale (as opposed to the old flowering kale from last year), orach, green chard, and lots of robust plants that we’ll harvest over the summer (like carrots, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, shelling beans, cucumbers, squashes, and peppers) .
This post is also to say that I will be taking up a new hobby next winter. This winter my hobby was “planting seeds too early and watching them die.” It was tedious.
I learned this winter that if you plant seeds that need to be in their pots for more than 2 weeks, you need to have a bigger pot. I used tiny cells and 90% of the seedlings died. I also learned that just because last April was hot didn’t mean that this April, or May or June (so far) will follow suit. It’s been a cold + wet spring. Even the cold weather crops languished.
Our family loves being outdoors–and we’ve hiked and backpacked together for many miles. Someone once asked me a question on one of our backpacking trips that I think can be applied to gardening:
Do you hike to camp, or camp to hike? (Not that it’s relevant here, but I’m a “hike to camp” person. I love getting hunkered, cozy and settled under a tree.)
So, when it comes to gardening + eating fresh produce, which do I love more–being in the garden or eating the food from the garden? Do I live to garden, or garden to live?
Both. The fresh produce feeds me physically and working in the garden feeds me spiritually. I love the cycle of sowing + reaping. I love the being surprised by scrappy, vigorous volunteer plants. I love watching seedlings reach toward the light while building a strong root system underground. I find physical and spiritual nourishment in both the garden and the harvest. It’s no surprise that throughout God relationship with mankind, he chooses to show his love for us in gardens. It’s a place where I feel gratitude, peace, and abundance.
Good news! All of the peas I planted in our garden waaay back in February are now sprouted. Hello and good morning! I will never plant peas in February again. I will always plant them in early to mid March. February is not the time to plant anything in the garden. February is a time to plan, learn, teach, prepare, and organize.
I decided to plant fava beans today, as a cover crop. I put them in the tomato row and the pepper\cucumber row. It’s my first time putting down a cover crop. I sowed “Sweet Loraine Improved” fava beans.
While I was wandering around the garden, observing and thinking, I saw happy clusters of some friends I spent a lot of time with last summer. They were orach seedlings! I loved orach last year because it was happy in the cold, happy in the heat, it was tall, generous, soft, and never bitter. It sometimes goes by the name “mountain spinach”. We bought a pack of orach seeds last year that had five different colors of orach. I think all five colors sent out their seeds, and we will be flush with orach in a few weeks!
I have a few 1020 flats of seedlings that I think are going to go to the greenhouse. Our greenhouse isn’t cooled or heated. It’s my first year with a greenhouse, and I’ve already killed off a few flats because i wasn’t sure how warm or cool the greenhouse would be. Now that it’s March, we are above freezing on most nights. I think I’ll move my cool weather crop seedlings out. I don’t know if I can move my warm weather seedlings out yet. Maybe I’ll try.
Even though I spent a lot of time putting together my garden plan and mapping out where each vegetable would be, I have to be flexible. The orach volunteers ended up on the tomato row. Maybe a couple tomato volunteers will end up on the greens row. I could dig them up and transplant them. But maybe this divine chaos is what I need in my garden and in my life–allowing beauty and life to grow wherever there is space for it.
Sometimes with gardens it’s easy to feel like you’re so far behind. Like “It’s already June 3rd and were not harvesting peas yet!” True–other years we harvested peas around this time, but last year at pea harvesting time we had zero garlic, a culinary herb garden the size of El Salvador (so teeny tiny, very very small, not big at all), and no overwintered greens. This spring has been very good to us, even though we have no peas to show for it. Our garlic all sprouted and grew, I harvested from the culinary herb garden all winter/spring, and we ate kale +chard all winter/spring like it was going out of style (because it is going out of style–orach is kinda the new kale).
We have no fresh peas yet, but it was the weather’s fault. Nothing more boring than hearing people talk about the weather (except for hearing people talk about video games or Avengers movies), so I’ll keep this short. April was supposed to be cool and wet, but it was freakishly hot and dry. So, no little pea fruits yet. Hopefully we’ll have a harvest before Thor’s hammer of heat withers our little pea shoots like spawned lava in Minecraft.
Lots of work in the garden today. We seeded peas and carrots. We transplanted six plugs of leeks, two Juliette tomatoes, a habanero pepper, and a Thai pepper plant, as well as six snapdragon plants. Heather transplanted a anise hyssop plant in the herb row. We laid down two more soaker hoses and watered. Things have been really dry lately for springtime. Today involved lots of weeding, cultivating soil, and raking.
We picked our first ounce of beans today. 😉 The beans that were barely alive are now looking quite healthy and should produce a good crop. The first cucumber and pepper should be ready this week. My peas are almost done for the season. They weren’t nearly as productive as last year but still provided some good table fare. The chard and kale continue to produce like gangbusters.
I seeded some carrots and spinach along the center of my row. The peas have been giving us a sparse harvest, and the beans are barely surviving, let alone growing. On the other hand, we’re harvesting plenty of chard and kale.
Trying to keep up on what Heather has been planting…
The carrots she planted on April 11 didn’t sprout. She replanted today.
Half of the beans that she planted on April 17 didn’t sprout. She replanted today.
She transplanted a gypsy pepper plant today.
Miniature slugs have been eating several of our garden plants the past couple weeks. We have been picking them off and they seem to be diminishing, but not before doing a fair bit of damage to my peas.
I harvested the last of my peas, and I’m going to remove them from the pods and dry them. I pulled out the plants, too. In their place, I planted (from west to east) rainbow mix carrots, danvers half-long carrots (north), chantenay carrots (south), some marigolds by the tomato plant, bloomsdale spinach (north), cylindra beet (south), calabrese broccoli (north), and chioggia beet (south). I also tried running some twine around my tomato plant on the east end to get some of the tomatoes off the ground. In doing so, we accidentally harvested some green tomatoes.
I got my first handful of beans a few days ago. We haven’t been able to keep up with the pea harvest of a pound every few days, so I’ll plant half as many next year. My kale and chard are very healthy and producing well. My Mortgage Lifter tomato finally has some blossoms that have become fruits. Overall, my garden row hasn’t needed much watering.
I got my first kale harvest (4 oz). I found one green worm eating some kale.
My peas are looking fantastic. I picked a few today, but I think I should have enough to be part of dinner tomorrow or the day after. I added a one-foot-high fence for them to climb. I probably could have added something taller.
My second planting of beans is up, and greener than the first planting, which is yellowish.
My Mortgage Lifter tomato seems to be recovering and greening up.
The peas that I direct-seeded have caught up with the transplanted ones, and they’re healthier. Today I planted an Early Girl tomato plant that I got at the Ag Fest, and 10 blue lake bush beans. The soil on my garden row dries out quickly and can absorb a lot of water.
Heather planted a few Oregon sugar pod peas on her row and transplanted two tomato plants of unknown variety from the Ag Fest.
In the back corner of the property, one of our douglas fir trees got mowed down. It was the one that wasn’t doing well anyway. We planted another one in its place that we got at the Ag Fest. We also planted two lodge pine trees that we got at the Ag Fest, and we mulched the trees with wood chips.