Archives for May 3, 2011

In the Spring Garden

With help of course!
The girls started by helping me pick the collards…

…but it only took a few minutes before they started picking the flowers instead.

Those are actually wild onions in Larkspur’s hand.  She and the boys like to make “soup” with them.  You can see my front yard in the background.  It’s basically a construction zone.  Tons of stone and sand associated with the neverending front porch project.

The collard greens looked so pretty all in bloom, but I had to pull them all out to make room for summer crops.

The strawberries are coming along so quickly!

Potatoes are up!

Intruder is the worst cat in the garden ever and it is his favorite place of course!

You can see more signs of construction in the background of this photo.  Piles of flagstone next to the house (on the left) and the little “practice porch” that Jonny has been working on in front of his shop (back right.)
You can also see that our house is badly in need of pressure washing, staining, and if you were able to look closely, you would see that the paint is peeling off our trim.  Right now the garden is just about all that looks good, but I am okay with that.

The spring garden is so pretty.  This is definitely my favorite part of the season I think.  I guess I should care more about harvest time.  Right now I am just sad that it will soon be time to turn all that beautiful red clover under.
A few garden notes because I am always asked:
1st-We’ve been gardening in this spot for eight years–it has taken a lot of work to reach the place we are at.
The “raised” beds are enclosed in cedar that we purchased from a little sawmill near Staunton,Virginia.  Jonny actually rented a moving van about two years ago and drove across the state after seeing an ad on Craig’s List and placing a special order for exactly what we wanted.  We had been hoping for cedar to build raised beds with for a long time, and when we came across this ad and the really good price they were selling their locally harvested/milled cedar for (Jonny described it as super dirt cheap for cedar–we bought cedar to build our chicken coop and compost bins at the same time), we decided to go for it.  (Those fellows aren’t selling cedar anymore, by the way.)
Most of our beds are 12 by 4 feet, but a few are 12 by 5, and then there are four that are roughly 12 by 12 feet in the middle that we use for melons and other sprawling crops.   The cedar boards are two inches thick by eight inches tall.
These aren’t really “raised” beds, but enclosed beds.  We did not add extra soil to raise the level as our soil here near the river is really good-not typical Virginia clay.  We garden organically and and are mainly no till (with the exception of turning cover crops under.)  We mulch heavily with organic materials such as straw, used chicken bedding, and grass clippings.  We often use newspaper and cardboard underneath the mulch to help create a weed barrier.  By mulching, we add organic material to the soil that eventually decomposes and will result in the soil level increasing within the beds over time.  The mulch is great for the soil, keeping it cooler in the summer and helping to retain moisture.  The walls surrounding the beds keep everything neat and tidy and help us to focus on one bed at a time.  Jonny and I are both really ADD and I don’t think we could garden any other way.
I have been working hard in the garden these past few days.  With a baby due in May, gardening has become a big part of the nesting process for me.  I am more concerned with having my garden squared away, than I am my house.  I am hoping to be at a resting place in about a week or so, with the next round of major garden tasks happening about a week after our baby is born.  Of course, my plans to resume gardening super quickly may be unrealistic.  At least I won’t lose the ability to give orders, ask nicely for help, and I can supervise from my bedroom window.