Monday, March 31, 2014

The Garden's Spring Sprint (and a Gentle Plea)

I know many of you have had a terribly long slog through winter this year, so hopefully this installment will provide you with things to look forward to in the coming months.

It's a critical time in the productive garden here. The daily temperatures are pleasant now, but it won't be long before the heat is oppressive and the afternoon rains roll out the annual welcome mat to every fungus you can imagine. I'm out in the garden every morning, making sure every plant is getting just what it needs to keep it healthy. As always, I find it such a relaxing, restorative practice, and I don't think I could do without it. That is an introduction to my gentle plea, but I'll save that for the end. Let's get in the garden first.

I have read conflicting reports about whether you can grow potatoes from those you purchased from the grocery. When I opened the potato drawer in the kitchen and found four potatoes sprouting, I decided to give them a try. They seem to be working so far.

New potatoes are peeking out of their
raised bed

I have been told more times than I can count that I can't grow corn in my small garden, but when someone tells me I can't do something, I generally just take it as a challenge. We have had some good ears of corn in the past few years, and each season, I try a new variety.  This bed is a Three Sisters bed of sorts. 'Patty Pan' squash are growing between the corn, and at the end of the planter I have more 'Tatuma' squash and 'Kentucky Wonder' pole beans growing, but I haven't quite mingled them according to that planting plan.

The 'Scallop Patty Pan Blend' Summer Squash and 'Golden
Bantam 8 Row Sweet Corn' are sharing their space nicely
I built a new archway out of electrical conduit that I bent, and I attached chicken wire using zip ties. Hopefully the pole beans will find the new set-up satisfactory. Since my space is limited, I like to use arches over the pathway to increase my useable space.

'Kentucky Wonder' Pole Beans are getting ready to scramble
up their arch
I went a little nuts on the Botanical Interests website when it came to peppers (everything you see in the photos, minus the potatoes and pineapples are from seeds I bought from Botanical Interests). I have 'California Wonder' sweet peppers, 'Traveler' jalapeƱos, 'Sweet Cherry Blend' sweet peppers, and 'Pepperoncini' Greek peppers scattered throughout the garden. All of them are growing really well, so I'm gearing up for Boursin-stuffed cherry peppers, Greek salads, and all sorts of other delights.

I see peppers in my future
My beets are under siege at the moment, so as an organic gardener, I made the choice to take preemptive action this morning. I've rescued all of the beet greens I could, and they'll make a nice side dish for supper tonight. The beets are roasting and will become part of one of my favorite treats -- pickled hard-boiled eggs and beets. I called them "Purple Eggs" when I was a kid, and that's what they remain in my house today.

Someone is enjoying my beet leaves

Actually, a whole lot of someones...
I'm also really excited about my bed full of spinach, bok choy, and blue kale. The bok choy is especially impressive at the moment. 

Bok Choy 'Tatsoi Rosette'

So here's my gentle plea. If you haven't grown your own food, I encourage you to give it a go. Start small, and get some experience and confidence under you. If you don't have much space, buy some beautiful containers. There are plenty of plants that will do well as long as they have a sunny spot. No matter your situation, find a way to do it. It's really rewarding in so many ways. I do get quite a rush from seeing something I've grown finally make it to my dinner plate, but the biggest reward I get from gardening is being a part of the daily miracles that occur. Tending to the needs of a plant and watching it grow sows seeds of joy and peace and real satisfaction.

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