May 25, 2012
The oaks have fully leafed out and now their pollen is coating everything outside in a layer of yellow, sticky dust. Its that time of year. When the days are long and everything takes advantage of the extra light to grow and grow and grow. The annual grasses and wild flowers appear to have have speed as their number one agenda, growing at least a foot in the past few weeks, trying to go to flower and then seed before the soil moisture runs out.
The garden is greening up too. The peas and potatoes are long past germination. The spinach, arugula and lettuces have been filling our salad bowls, along with the radishes and overwintered kale, and the cabbage and broccoli is in the midst of a growth spurt The array of beets (mangel beets, sugar beets and regular eating beets) have all germinated and are growing well, as have the carrots and turnips. Despite the seemingly cool weather, even the corn (this year I am just planting the Painted Mountain variety) has already germinated--with a record surfacing date of May 18th. The parsnips and rutabagas have finally germinated as well.
The heat loving crops have all mostly been transplanted: the tomatoes, eggplant, summer and winter squash, sweet potatoes. Just today, the basil went in and I seeded the beans.
To put it bluntly, my primary goal with this year's garden is to grow as much food as possible, while maintaining diversity, with as little work and water as possible. I want to be able to divert my energies into perennials this season and still have time for other projects, but I also want a productive garden. If I want both more time outside the garden and lots of fresh food, I am forced to become more efficient. And after few seasons of dry-land gardening under my belt now, I am better able to be so.
By the middle of April more than 75% of the main garden was planted. Which means that most of the bed space is devoted to plants that get an early start to their season and thus able to take advantage of the spring moisture (such as potatoes, garlic, carrots, beets, parsnips, peas, broccoli and cabbage, cooking and salad greens). The remaining crops (tomatoes, eggplant, basil, summer squash, winter squash, beans and sweet potatoes) all have been transplanted or seeded in the past week.
Now it's time to watch, water and weed (and sneak in the occasional nibble).