Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The First Seedlings Started

Chives or Ramps?
As the first drops of rain begin to streak my office windows, and through the closed windows I can hear the noise of the flock of blackbirds hanging out in the trees and yard outside, I sit down to write. I've got fresh dirt under my fingernails. The garden has begun! Actually, I'm not so sure it deserves an exclamation point. I started two flats of seeds today: three kinds of cabbage, two kinds of onion, and one kind of broccoli. I dropped in about 25-50 of each variety, and have them under plastic, one flat in the bedroom, the other in the downstairs bathroom. I expect to plant these little guys into the garden in about a month or so. I also started some dandelion and purslane. I am very excited about growing these two varieties of greens. I remember living in Greece and eating fresh dandelion greens, stewed with a little vinegar, olive oil and lemon... so delicious! And I've been reading about purslane for years, have never tried it, but ran across an Italian heirloom with large green leaves, so figured I try it out. I'm starting just a few plants of each, and am going to grow them indoors over the next month to see (1) what they look like coming up (so I don't accidentally weed them in the garden!) and (2) to try them out in recipes so I can give folks recommendations at the farmers' market.

Irrigation Tubing I pulled from the garden.
Over the past few days, I've been devouring organic gardening books. I feel like I'm cramming for an exam, which as a dear friend said yesterday, "you are." I think I've got my timelines down: when to plant the seedlings in the starter soil, when to transplant them to the garden, when to direct-seed other varieties. Of course I know all of this is at the whim of the weather. We're supposed to get another night of rain and thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow, with snow tomorrow night and Thursday morning. It's still too early to plant outside. But that doesn't mean things aren't growing outside. Every morning not only are there more birds in the air (this morning I could hear at least three woodpeckers out in the woods) but there are more plants coming up around the yard. I have discovered what appear to be chives growing in a few spots in the yard. I tasted some yesterday and they had a distinctly garlic taste. Are they ramps? I hope so. I've noticed whole areas of bulbs coming up, not only in the flower beds, but in the grass on the west side of the house. It's exciting, as this is our first spring in this house, and every week will yield new discoveries... how many other folks who've lived here before have planted bulbs, and what kinds? It's very exciting! And it highlights how much I have to learn... the difference between chives and ramps. What does baby poison ivy look like? Where are these mythical raspberry and blackberry brambles in the garden? Are these red and thorny bushes berries or weedy roses? And what creatures are making so many holes in the yard? I now know the mole-paths in the yard, but every morning I find more, and frequently larger, holes coming up out of the ground... One night last week, we heard the frogs from the pond for the first time. We haven't heard them since, but it has been rather cold each night again. And the birds! This morning I saw flocks of blackbirds along with multiple woodpeckers, cardinals, robins (they're so large here!), grackles, meadowlarks, tufted titmice, among others I haven't learned to identify yet. It's a birder's paradise!

On the other side of paradise is the irrigation tubing I pulled from the garden last week. It's still lying in the yard because I haven't figured out what to do with it. I pulled out about a dozen 200-yard long sections of tubing. They'd most likely been placed directly on the ground two summers ago, but left in the ground since. They were underneath overgrowth that stood, at times, over eight feet tall. I had to tug and pull and rip them out. It was a fun project, but every time I look out in the yard, I'm reminded that it's a project unfinished. I plan on checking them to see if I can use them again, and will likely end up putting them someplace near the barn until I figure out what to really do with them.

I've had this dream for so long: to live on a farm and grow produce to sell at the farmers' market and to can and provide for my family year-long. I am having a hard time believe those first seeds are now in the ground!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Joe! I enjoyed your blog, as always. Have you seen any crawdad holes in your yard yet? They are interesting. I always wondered why they make holes so far away from the stream or pond. The wild onions are coming up all over our yard. That looks like what you have in your picture. I've never done anything with them. I may have to look into that. Enjoy your planting and dreaming!