Friday, May 9, 2014

Garden update- May

Every spring i get eager to start planting early, but the weather never quite cooperates. With our low flow well, i can not irrigate and so i am very dependent on the rain. Without a working tiller i've been turning the soil by hand. It is heavy with clay and very dry, so i've had to wait for the rain to soften the soil enough to turn it and pull the weeds.  Too much rain and it's a muddy mess that washes all the seeds away. So i often find myself obsessing about the weather and waiting for those perfect days to plant and work outside.
We were still getting freezing temperatures the second week of April, so some of my cool crops were planted later than i like.  Last year i was enjoying my first salad near the end of April, but this year i'm just beginning to pick fresh greens the second week of May.

Another week and i can start putting my summer veggies out. i have 30+ potted tomatoes i've grown from seed. Most every thing else i seed directly in the ground.

My spinach is finally big enough to pick. i like to pinch off some of the baby leaves for salad, and allow the rest of the plant to continue growing. i sow spinach seeds in a few different gardens and stagger the plantings so that i am harvesting it for a extended time. It's a cool weather crop, and does well in partial shade. It tends to bolt a little slower when it stays cooler during the day. Spinach freezes well, and we eat a ton of it, so you just can't really plant too much.

My loose leaf salad greens are ready to be picked. This is the red and green oak leaf lettuce. i also planted a red romaine, a speckled head lettuce, majesty lettuce, red salad bowl, Black seeded simpson  and a mesclun  mix.  Lettuce also does well in partial shade for extended season growing.

We've been working on asparugus bed for several years. i add a few new crowns each year, and we are constantly building up the soil. It still seems like we never have enough. :) Although the plants are doing well, and producing lots of spears,  it still takes about 1 week of collecting spears before i have enough for one meal. 

First harvest of 2014, a bit later than usual.  We've been eating a bit crappy all winter, so it's really nice to have a homegrown salad and fresh asparagus for dinner. i've been working on my strawberry patch this spring and am hoping it does well. Most of the plants are just flowering, but i did find a couple red berries.  

The little morels i found behind the house a few days ago. i've found 43 this year, which is a record for me. i've never done an serious morel hunting, and tend to only find them when i'm not looking. :) Always a treat and exciting to find.  We are getting a lot of eggs right now and are able to share them with a neighbor which is always nice.

We are supposed to get some rain this weekend, so hopefully i'll be spending the next few days getting the rest of the garden turned and planted. i have broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, purple potatoes, swiss chard, peas, garlic onions, beets and kale planted and starting to come in.  i planted some summer squash yesterday, and am still trying to figure out where i am going to plant everything. Last year we were hit with late blight that affected the tomatoes and potatoes in all of my gardens, so i need to figure out a different place to put them this year.  i also have voles in my sweet potatoes bed, and the one of the other gardens so i have to find a new place to put sweet potatoes and other root vegetables as well. 

i've been reading that castor oil is a good deterrent for voles, so i'm going to try that. They really did a ton of damage last year, i found tunnels in my raised beds and in almost all of my gardens. i think part of this is because i didn't have a cat outside patrolling the area.  Tom typically hung out by those gardens and was quite good at catching the voles. Last year we were in the camper, and although Tallulah was outside a lot during the summer she stayed close to the camper and so she wasn't spending any time in the gardens that the voles were in. Now that we are back in a house, she hangs out closer to the garden and i'm really hoping she helps control the vole population this year.

Every year we are faced with new garden challenges. i'm really hoping we can get through a year without the late blight, which is just devastating. i bought floating row covers, so i'm going to try using them on broccoli and squash. Cabbage worms and vine borers are always a problem, and the row cover should help with that. 

We have a lot of projects we are working on this spring, and i hope to try and document some of them (i'm never very good at that. ).  Right now, just getting the garden in is the main goal.  


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