Ah April — More Garden

We had another hard freeze, the Brussel sprouts, kohl rabi, kale and Swiss chard seem to be no more, alas.

On the other hand, the small purple flower that blooms briefly in the veggie garden each spring has budded. It’s the only flower thing in the veggie garden beds, and each year I just can’t make myself move it to a flower bed instead. It’s so cheering to see this single, tiny flower in early spring!

I planted the first seeds yesterday: peas & radishes. I’d located my old seed stash last year, so the oldest stuff went out — some of it from 2009! If they don’t come up, I won’t really be surprised. 😀 I have newer radish seed but not peas (I plant a lot of peas.) so we bought some. If there’s no sprouting going on out there in the next week or so, I’ll replant the bed. I planted snow peas on one side of the trellis and shelling (English) peas on the other with radishes to fill in the bed. We’ll see what we get!

Still to do: finish filling the new root veggie bed and seed the first carrots, and maybe potatoes, and onions. The onions and potatoes are “maybe” because my usual source for “starts” is a market in MA. They weren’t selling what I wanted by the pound, only by the bag — and too expensively at that, so I didn’t buy any. There’s a co-op in the bigger town where I’m going today. I’ll pick up a few organic potatoes & onions, if they’re not insanely expensive, and I’ll use those.

I was given 6 bunches of pussy willows the other day. I saw an antique dealer I know who had a hand full of these. They were starting to “bloom” and she was pitching them. So I saved her the trouble. I bought some rooting compound and at the moment they’re all in vases in the dining room window. The rooting compound I found was a dyed blue liquid, instead of the powder I expected. The stuff particulated out, there’s a “cloud” on the bottom of all the vases. I got these Friday. I’ll give them til this Friday and if there’s no rooting going on at that point, they’ll go to the dump. I love pussy willows and would LOVE to have some growing in the swampy bits here. We’ll see if this works?

The write up I found said rooting compound isn’t necessary, but that’s the way I was taught, so that’s what I did. Also, these are old, dried out branches, so maybe the rooting compound will help? Who knows? They may all be dead as can be, but the hope that they may not be is enough for early spring!

I need to plant lettuce yet. I was thinking we’d have a salad of Swiss chard, kale, sorrel, chives, radicchio, and a few leeks. It would need a sweet dressing, most of those are more bitter than sweet, but it would all have come out of the garden! But no chard or kale as I noted above, darn it.

Maybe I’ll just stir fry some of what’s left. Last year I wanted full-size radicchio. The chipmunks, squirrels or mice beat me to it! The day before I was going to harvest the biggest head, I came out and almost all of it had been eaten to the ground! If I want radicchio in the spring, we need to eat them young, or the critters get them all! Apparently, they don’t like sorrel.

The bulbs on the north side of the house have finally (5 years?) started to spread on their own. I think the problem they’ve got is that the hill there is too steep, where I’ve leveled out part of the bank, that’s the only piece where they’ve spread towards the vernal pond. Now I know where I’ll use the leaf pile! That, some branches, some soil and the bank on that side of the house can still be steep enough to shed water, but not so steep that the daffs, etc. won’t get a toehold.

And of course, EVERYTHING needs to be fertilized. I wish the fellow who built this house had paid for importing some topsoil! He didn’t. He trucked in God knows how much sand, which is great for the septic, but one of my continual problems the past 20 years has been to create top soil and then KEEP it. The sand leaches the nutrients right out of the soil just about as fast as I can add them.

Rotating the beans/peas around the veggie garden makes a discernible difference, but I can’t plant beans & peas over the lawn, where the blueberry hedge is, under the trees, etc.

I haven’t bought my straw for the year yet. I’ll get 2-3 bales which I’ll use to mulch the veggie garden for water retention. In the fall, the veggie beds are mulched in straw and leaves and whatever straw remains is added to the last compost heap, and the partially composted straw is used the following spring.

I’ve been doing this for years. I can tell.  When we bought this place, the soil looked like a vanilla cake with a thin chocolate glaze on top. About 1/3″ of top soil — that’s it. The fact that I can dig 6-8″ (and more in some places) before I hit sand always makes me feel like I’ve won something!

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