Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring under Snow

Last Saturday was gorgeous: sunny with temperatures in the upper 50's. I took the opportunity to get out in the garden and get it in shape for the upcoming season. I pulled out the cages, trellises and stakes I used last year. I piled up and composted the zinnia and okra stalks, and pulled up and composted the tomato, pepper, and eggplant skeletons. And I dug up and composted the rotting cabbage leaves. (A few days later I discovered that we have a very large groundhog living in the barn, and feasting on those cabbages... We're thinking of calling him Hutton Harry...) I also weeded the raised beds I never got a chance to deal with last summer, and filled them with sheep manure I got last fall. (The raised beds are in the first picture below, and the garden in the second.)

The next day we got an early spring blizzard: about twelve inches of snow fell Sunday covering everything in a heavy, drenching blanket of white. I spent a snowy snowed-in Monday building soil blocks and starting eggplants in them. Checking on the Brussels sprouts, cabbages, lettuce, basil, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants growing in the warm seed room.

This Saturday is supposed to be warm (upper 50's) and will be a perfect day for me to start some cool-weather crops in the raised beds: peas, lettuce, beets... I can not wait!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Growin' of the Green!

It's a cold and blustery St. Patrick's Day promising snow. In the seed room, it's still warm & humid and smells lovely: of soil and little plants. The Brussels Sprouts and cabbages that are up are nearing two inches tall. (See the pictures below...) Lettuces and basil are beginning to grow like gangbusters. The peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants I've planted haven't germinated yet, but I expect them any day. Looking back at last year's garden journal, it seems this spring is so far more typical: cooler and wet, so things outside are coming up slowly. Last year at this time, it had been so warm that I was already feeling weeks behind. Right now, I am feeling like I am right on track: plants growing in the seed room, the garden still untilled and dormant. Soon, though...maybe after this upcoming week of cold weather, the farm will burst alive and I will be out there, making food. I can't wait!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Garden Lives On!

I know that it's been since Thanksgiving since I posted, and that I may have lost some of my readers. But it's a new year, and I've got a renewed energy for the garden. All of my seeds have been ordered, and most of them have arrived. I ordered from new seed companies this year: Southern Exposure, Botanical Interests (out of my home state of Colorado), Sustainable Mountain Agriculture (out of Berea, KY, who specialize in heirloom seeds collected from Western North Carolina and Eastern Kentucky), and Territorial Seed Co., out of Oregon. I also ordered from some of my standbys: Seed Savers Exchange, Baker Creek, Pinetree, and Hudson's. I can't imagine ordering from only one catalog!

A few weeks ago, I cleaned out my seed room and started lettuces, some basil, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Some of the seed is from last year, and even the year before, but already most of it is up. This past Sunday, I started seven varieties of peppers as well as my paste tomatoes. It feels so rejuvenating to be putting seeds in soil once again. Stepping into that brightly-lit room and feeling the warmth from the heater and smelling the rich earthy scent from the soil, it's like walking into spring. Especially when it's so cold and blustery outside. There are hints of spring... The grass near the house is starting to turn green and thicken up, and the daffodils and crocus and tulips have pushed their green arms above ground. Last week I was in Nashville, where the flowers were blooming and the air had that unmistakeable scent of life on it... So it's getting closer... Near as I could tell, spring is in Northern Kentucky, inching its way into Southern Illinois... Soon, soon... Perhaps the most obvious sign of spring are the birds. Every morning, I wake up to new bird calls and more feathered friends in the yard.

I've got big plans for the garden this year... Last year I harvested more produce than the year before, and that, despite the drought. (Luckily, I was able to water!) But this year, I'm going to spend some time really prepping my raised beds to grow greens, onions, potatoes, beets, and carrots. All of these struggled in the heavy clay soil in the garden proper. I am bringing in more flowers, and hopefully building a sitting/eating area in the garden itself, so folks can really enjoy the beauty of the garden. I am also hoping to market my produce once again, either at the market or through social media, or both. And Charleston is getting a second farmers' market this year: on Saturdays at the County Fairground. Hopefully there will be enough farmers selling to keep it vibrant.

Well, thanks for reading, and I hope you will join me on this year's gardening adventure at Three Persimmons Farm!