Garden

Garden in early April

Folks who are use to the conventional garden with straight rows of one crop per row and bare ground don’t often know my garden is a vegetable garden. I’m not sure what they think it is.

One of my favorite stories to prove that point took place some years before Bill died. It was a particularly abundant year and everything was producing even more than usual.  I had  different varieties of lettuces, kale, cabbages, beans, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, peas, herbs, potatoes, asparagus, strawberries and other things I can’t even remember.

As long time readers will recall my saying — I’ve been buying straw from the same family for over 40 years.  The patriarch of the family has passed into history.  His son (the 2nd generation) now brings my straw.  And his son (the third generation) is the young friend I mentioned in the last post.

The big rolls of straw are positioned about 5 feet from the garden..

After unloading the straw during one delivery, he looked out over the 2500 square feet of garden and said, “You know, if you ever decide to have a vegetable garden you’ll do really well.”

As you might imagine I had no idea what to say. So I said nothing.

Early Spring Garden – April 11

At the upper end of the garden looking to the lower end.

You should be able to click on the picture and enlarge it to get a better look.

What’s in the Picture

At the bottom of the picture is the long loose pile of chickweed, henbit, and other wild plants that I’ve just cleared from the bed adjoining that path in order to plant peas there.

I’ll gather and “tighten” the pile to take less space and give me room to walk.

The warmer the temperatures the more quickly it will decay and once again become part of my rich garden soil.

One tomato stake is standing as a reminder that I planted something there.

Several are stacked in a path until I’m ready to use them.

Mache

The light frothy green that appears in the picture above the loose pile is Mache flowering and going to seed. Since Mache is my favorite green and helps sustain me through the winter there is no such thing as too much.  It reseeds all over my garden and appears again each fall.

When Mache finishes its cycle something else can fill the spaces it occupied.

Close up of Mache in bloom

Above the mass of blooming Mache  is the last fall planting of Winter Density lettuce.

Winter Density

And on the other side of the lettuce bed is another patch of fall planted garlic.

Purchased Cover Crops Again After 10 Years

Cover crops are the tall dense greens you see in the picture.

Several rows of cover crops I’ve already cut to the ground. Most likely I’ll plant beans in those beds.

If the roots are in the process of decaying and/or they’re not too dense I’ll make a hole for each bean.  Usually the covers of oats and peas die off over the winter.  But this winter was so mild die-off didn’t happen until cutting them to the ground.

If I have to I take I’ll remove the roots and lay them either beside the bed or on top of the bed to finish decaying.

Covers not yet cut

Soon the covers that are still growing will be cut.  Then warm weather crops like tomatoes, peppers, and cukes when big enough will go into those beds. If oats or field peas continue to grow  they can be used as a living mulch. (But I’ll keep them cut.)

The bed of field peas in the picture below is designated for three or four tomato plants.  The field peas will be a living mulch for the tomatoes until they die off.

When  they do I’ll add more mulch around the tomatoes.

Closer view of bed of field peas as a cover crop.

Diversity

This is the first year since before Bill died that I was able to plant  purchased cover crops into some of the beds last fall. Long time readers will know that when I don’t have bought ones growing I use my wild plants (some folks call them weeds) to feed and improve the soil.  

I was glad to have something besides my wild plants for the sake of diversity.

Diversity is another secret to your garden’s success.  Each plant offers something different for your soil as it decays. So the more variety you have the better off your soil is.

Blueberry  Bushes

At the top right of the photo the blueberry bushes are in bloom. For the last decade there has been a continuing decline in the number of bees that show up to pollinate the blooms.

I was delighted to see a bit of increase this year.

Behind Me

From where the picture of the overall view of the garden was taken there were  3 more rows behind me. One is filled with onion seedlings And the other two are currently empty.

The other side of the center path in this upper section is filled with strawberries, some potatoes and asparagus.

Strawberries in bloom and a plant of wild cress

Entrance Path

My entrance gate is close to the lower end of the garden on the right hand side.

Entrance path to the garden.  Once you get to the wild cress’s yellow bloom the center path goes left and right.

What’s in the Entrance Path Picture

A closer view of the Yellow bloom of wild Cress in the entrance path picture.

Once you pass the cress, the tall dense greens are rows of cover crops that I’ve not yet cut.

To the right of the cress are peas just showing themselves through the straw.

Top corner far right is another row of Winter Density lettuce which does not show well. With the lettuce are 3 pieces of arugula in full bloom and setting seed at the same time. In the overall garden picture you can also see these 3 pieces in bloom and to the right of them (across the path) you’ll see more arugula in bloom with a short row of cover crops.

Arugula in full bloom.

Arugula in full bloom and setting seed at the top of the stem.

In the top left corner of the Entrance Path picture is some garlic.  I didn’t have a large space last fall that I could designate for garlic so I planted it wherever I had a small spot that was free.

A spot of Fall planted garlic

Not Shown in the Entrance Path Picture

but was to my left as I took the picture is a Kalibos cabbage seedling that made it through the winter.  I planted 4 but don’t see but the one.

Based on experience the other 3 could still show up even though I can’t see them.  I was shocked the year that 3 I thought had not made it showed up unexpectedly. They ended up as 3 of the most beautiful cabbages in the garden.’

Here’s a picture of the one that definitely made it.

Kalibos cabbage seedling

Close to the cabbage seedling is Reine Des Glaces lettuce that is being somewhat concealed by the Mache that has bloomed.

Mache bloom and Reine des Glaces lettuce

And directly across from the yellow blooming cress at the edge of that row of cover crops was a large parsley plant.  What a great surprise that was. Evidently the oats and field peas gave it a lot of protection during the winter and it’s now gorgeous!

Parsley from last year. It’s much prettier in real life than in this picture.

Spinach

For some reason spinach has never done all that well for me. But I love it and it’s got a lot of good nutrients so I’m trying again.

I just transplanted these seedlings to the garden the other day.

Spinach seedlings.

Final Thoughts

There’s not a lot visible in the garden this time of year, but I thought you might want to see it before it grows up so much.

Wishing you a great start to the season!

________

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11 Comments

  • First rule of gardening for me is “if it works for me it’s the right way. If it works for you but not me then I need to find a 3rd. way or maybe 5th.? Gardening isn’t a perfect game. I know I have grow zones from 4 to 6 on my 3 acres. I love my trees but they shade the sun in places at different times of day. Gardening should be fun so smile and find your way.

    Theresa has taught me “why” I grow my way so listen to her and find “your” way.

  • Theresa, this is so beautiful!!! These ‘garden tours’ are always my favorites 🙂
    And I’m so happy to hear that you have seen an increase in bees on the blueberries, even if slight!
    The story at the top made me laugh, it says it all….!!!

  • What an absolutely gorgeous garden! Everything looks so healthy!
    That is funny your young man couldn’t tell there was a garden already in place. Made me laugh.

  • I love it Theresa.

    I’ve been gardening since I was old enough to stick my finger in the soil. Haha. But, seriously, I have had a garden of some kind for 50 years and in those years, I’ve had to grow in all kinds of different places and situations and grow zones. I’ve grown on patios, balconies and in pots indoors when I had to.

    The one thing I’ve learned over the years is, like you said, to give the garden a bit of diversity. I don’t have the space you do, but I try to do similar things with the limited space I have.

    I usually have some kind of organization as to where my plants are, but I stick things in here and there. Will a few basil plants fit right there? How about a couple of marigolds there? Maybe I can throw some dill seed in over there (speaking of dill, I threw dill seed in around my corn last year as an experiment and it worked great!).

    I think we do well if we can “mimic” nature as much as possible. In the wild, there certainly aren’t perfect rows of anything.

    Thanks for the tour! Your tours always motivate me.

    Unfortunately, we have another snow storm coming where I live and the true gardening doesn’t begin until the end of May but you better believe I have some babies growing indoors getting ready for their home outside as soon as possible.

    Oh, something else that happened this year that absolutely floored me: Corriander/Cilantro seeds that fell from a few plants that last fall and sprouted actually lived through the winter. I’d never seen anything like it. We had 20 below temps and somehow these little plants survived and are growing for a nice early crop of fresh cilantro in a few more weeks. Amazing. Sorry for the rant. 🙂

  • Hiya Theresa!
    Thanks for the garden walk! Love this time of year. Everything coming back and pushing up through the mulch.

    Bees are really loud this year. Fat bumble bees started showing up less than a week ago, honeybees about 2 weeks before them. Honeybees are the noisy ones. Every year I plant more flowers and herbs that they like, let all the “weeds” that come up early for them in the lawn stay well into April and hope for the best.

    Saw the first baby dragonfly of the year Friday! Little tiny guy.

    Have similar luck with spinach, hope we both do well this year. Maybe it’s just the zone we’re in. Neither one of us can seem to get Lacinato kale to grow well either.

    The first year I was gardening like you do my neighbor Mike came across the street and I couldn’t wait to show him my garden. We’re standing outside the fence, me all beaming and proud and he looks over and says, (almost yelling, kinda grouchy), “What is that?!?!…. Weeds?!?!?” I just laughed and laughed and said “no! look” and pointed out to him what was growing in the jumble of vegetables and flowers.

    He still didn’t get it….

    Ah well… “messy” is beautiful if you ask me.
    Thanks again for the garden walk!
    Harold

  • Beautiful garden! The story at the beginning about the remark the straw guy made is so funny. About 10 or so years back I had a 14 year old boy do some garden work for me due to health issues. That boy was amazed to find carrots growing in my garden. He “seriously” thought they grew on trees, LOL!
    Many times since, I have tried to imagine this tree with carrots hanging all over.

  • Thank you for the pictures of what is growing. Here in central California it has been not so sunny and a late winter again this year. It snowed last week with more rain. I am joking that I will have to harvest my squash indoors if the weather doesn’t warm up. It is always good to garden. My arugula and kale are both blooming. My spinach is small but I have had at least 8 servings off of it. Unfortunately it already wants to bolt and it has only been really warm a day or two in between the cold weather.

  • Enjoyed the tour of the garden. We are almost at decent weather. Snow has melted in the lower elevations and the ground is soft and workable. Garlic is doing well as the straw bedding kept it protected durning the Winter. Take care my dear gradening friend. Happy day….

  • What a pleasure to see your beautiful, treasured garden. You’ve encouraged me!

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