Early Spring Garden Update

Well, it’s been awhile! My handy dandy Witch’s Datebook marks today as a good planting day. (That’s actually the whole reason I get these datebooks! They tell me the best days for harvest and planting, all throughout the month, so that I don’t need to keep track of the Moon and other influences.) Yesterday, I scrounged around huge volumes of seed packs in order to create a polyculture blend for an early spring crop in the cold frame, along with fava beans to fix nitrogen in the Bed Bed before I try growing Faery Tale Pumpkins there this summer. I soaked the seeds overnight for planting today:

Fava beans on the right, and on the left, Alaskan peas, Lucullus chard, spinach, golden and chiogga beets, two types of turnips, two types of carrots (including a short growing Japanese variety), Ching Chang Bok Choy, tat soi, a less fun to say kind of bok choi, two kinds of radishes, lettuce mix, and some Red Russian kale ... all interplanted for early greens to thin and eat while the others grow to size.

Fava beans on the right, and on the left, Alaskan peas, Lucullus chard, spinach, golden and chiogga beets, parsnips, two types of turnips, two types of carrots (including a short growing Japanese variety), Ching Chang Bok Choy, tat soi, a less fun to say kind of bok choi, two kinds of radishes, lettuce mix, and some Red Russian kale … all interplanted for early greens to thin and eat while the others grow to size.

Our cold frame’s looking pretty ragamuffin these days, but I’ve opened it the past few days to get some rain. The soil is nice and fluffy, dark and rich. Although many of my plants died in the weeks of minus 15, the dried leaves have begun to rot down and enrich the soil:

If you look carefully, you can see garlic, thyme (currently purple but with some green at the base), spinach, parsnips, beets, and some carrots.

If you look carefully, you can see garlic, thyme (currently purple but with some green at the base), spinach, parsnips, beets, and some carrots.

This Red Russian kale looked dead, but it has come back to life with the warmer rains. I left some of the other plants in there, just in case. You can see parsnips growing behind the kale.

This Red Russian kale looked dead, but it has come back to life with the warmer rains. I left some of the other plants in there, just in case. You can see parsnips growing behind the kale.

We've also got sprouts of corn mache (miner's lettuce) and, I think, spinach, that I planted early last week.

We’ve also got sprouts of corn mache (miner’s lettuce) and, I think, spinach, that I planted early last week.

I put an orgone puck near the peas, because I realized after planting them that they are probably too close for comfort to the garlic. Hopefully the orgone will strengthen them. :)

I put an orgone puck near the peas, because I realized after planting them that they are probably too close for comfort to the garlic. Hopefully the orgone will strengthen them. πŸ™‚

I also tried an experiment called "over-wintering," just letting Nature (almost) take its course on normally self-seeding herbs. I haven't seen any signs of life yet, but it's still pretty cold. One container (of corn flower seeds) always looks dry, even though the rest show damp soil. Mysterious!

I also tried an experiment called “over-wintering,” just letting Nature (almost) take its course on normally self-seeding herbs. I haven’t seen any signs of life yet, but it’s still pretty cold. One container (of corn flower seeds) always looks dry, even though the rest show damp soil. Mysterious!

I spent much of last fall mulching out a huge swath of weedy front yard. The last few days of winter included hauling over concrete slabs from the apartment complex next door. These will eventually look orderly, as they line the edges of raised beds and demarcate paths:

Almost finished the edging. It's a circle with three entrances wide enough for my wheelbarrow and for meandering once we have edible ornamentals to admire. You can see the last part of Mount Mulchmore towards the upper left.

Almost finished the edging. It’s a circle with three entrances wide enough for my wheelbarrow and for meandering once we have edible ornamentals to admire. You can see the last part of Mount Mulchmore towards the upper left.

The Bed Bed (a reclaimed Sleep Number Bed Frame) filled with compost and leaf mulch and planted with fava beans. The wire at the top went over the bean seeds to discourage squirrels, who may have unearthed all the tulips I planted last fall. :(

The Bed Bed (a reclaimed Sleep Number Bed Frame) filled with compost and leaf mulch and planted with fava beans. The wire at the top went over the bean seeds to discourage squirrels, who may have unearthed all the tulips I planted last fall. 😦

Indoors, we’ve got a newly arrived and as yet unassembled Garden Tower on our porch. David will be helping me assemble some indoor growing systems this weekend, so that I can get seeds started for warmer outdoor transplants. This Garden Tower holds 50 plants in 4 square feet of space! How cool is that? I bought it to demo for Goshen, but I am now glad for the extra space, since I realized I need to take care of the bindweed problem in a newly mulched out area where I intended to grow pumpkins. Instead, I’ll be growing Mexican Marigolds, which supposedly excrete a chemical that’s toxic to bindweed. No more bindweed nightmares to wake me up in the morning like last summer! I’ll be killing it with flowers.

The Garden Tower Project

The Garden Tower Project

We’ve also got a new faery addition for our window, a lovely gift from two sweet friends:

Faery Toadstool

She’ll be happy near the still blooming Christmas Cactus and a pink geranium — at least until it goes outside for the summer. Until the morning glories start climbing their decorative trellises, I always appreciate prettier views. When growing, our yard sticks out as an oasis of color, food, and riotous flowers and herbs, all the more surprising for the industrial and run down nature of some of the nearby buildings. A local gardener whom I very much admire recently announced that ours was “the most improved yard in all of Goshen!” That warmed my heart. It’s a lot of work, but I’m happy to spread beauty anywhere, especially where most needed.

The most encouraging part of today’s rag tag gardening adventure? I accidentally dislodged a little carrot while moving around mulch to plant my seeds. I didn’t know how this little guy would taste, being so immature, but I decided to give it try:

Very early carrot, accidentally harvested from the cold frame

Very early carrot, accidentally harvested from the cold frame

The verdict? Sweeeeeeet!

8 responses to this post.

  1. so enjoy hearing what you are doing with your garden Laura. it’s fun, I learn new things and I love the pictures you share as well. a labor of love on many levels. thank you Dawn

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  2. Posted by Raven on March 29, 2014 at 1:21 am

    Loved the photos! I love it when plants from last year pop again up after winter. You’re making great progress… and the stained glass faery is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your garden projects with us.

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  3. Thanks, Dawn and Raven! Yes, definitely a labor of love, with a hint of mad scientist artist visionary thrown in. πŸ™‚

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  4. Posted by Kieron on March 29, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    “Mount Mulchmore.” hahaha I’ll have to remember that one! πŸ˜€ In picture #4, that’s definitely spinach sprouting on the left. πŸ™‚ An elder who was raised on a farm taught me to soak seeds intended for planting in rainwater the night before to give the seeds a head start. Also, she taught me to try to plant as close to the full Moon as possible because the Moon increases the water content of everything that’s planted, which is what you want in growing things. She *also* pointed out that we tend to have precipitation in some form or another around the time of full and new Moons, because the pull of the Moon in relation to the pull of the Sun tends to bring moisture or storms. Of course, there are always going to variables and factors that create subtle changes… it takes a lifetime to notice everything. πŸ™‚

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  5. Thanks, Kieron, yes, I’ve noticed that about the Full Moon, too, and usually like to plant when the Moon is waxing. I like this calendar, because it lists other days when the Moon is in an Earth sign or otherwise auspicious for planting, because sometimes, things happen and you don’t get to planting by the time of the Full Moon! Or … the seed starting kit you order takes nearly 4 weeks TO SHIP! Anyway, I had read that waning Moon is an ok time to plant root veggies or fruits with seeds inside, so I figured, I’d give these ones a whirl to get in on the spring rains and a week of warmer temp’s. Glad to know that one plant is spinach. I’ll have to trust the other is miner’s lettuce/mache, but I’ve never planted it before. πŸ™‚

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  6. Posted by Sophia Sutton on March 31, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    Very sweet indeed! Nice work, Laura! love, sophia

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  7. Thanks and love, Sophia! ~ Laura

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