How is it that this is my first update of 2013? I can tell you it’s not for lack of things happening on the farm, or in gardens, or in any domain where plants are growing that I happen to frequent — and that all is the relevant purview of this blog. That’s right, this blog is conceivably about the entire world, in any corner of which I could, in theory, be traipsing at any moment. Although I mostly stay put.
I’m still at the farm. I worked there over the winter and I gathered and washed and candled and weighed and packaged eggs. That was about it. Late in the winter, we started sowing seeds for some of our crops and raised them in the basement. Winter lasted until about three weeks ago. Then it turned into summer. Now it’s briefly spring. Summer will start again soon. Everything is very different this season, compared to last. Last year we were far ahead in virtually everything, and it never rained. This year, we’re a little to moderately behind on everything, and it’s sure been raining this spring, but we’ll see whether it lasts over the summer.
What’s different this year? We’ve grown bedding plants for the farmer’s market:
We’re also growing more herbs besides sweet basil and cilantro.
- Thai basil
- parsley (flat and curly-leaf)
Yes, I put those last few in that order on purpose. Otherwise, we’re growing pretty much all the same crops as before. The planting has begun in earnest over the last couple weeks, and today was a particularly intense day with us planting up all the cherry tomatoes, basil, and the rest of the herbs. That was the morning. Then we switched to sweet peppers in the afternoon and threatening rain teased us on and off for about an hour before gigantic clouds rolled in and started spewing rain down on us. We were almost done, with only a row and a half at that point, and I think we set some kind of record getting that last stretch planted. Nothing like the fear of getting struck by lightning to motivate you.
- Onions. I planted all the onions by myself this year. Last year, four of us planted all of the onions in one day. This year, it took me about four full days, but these days were split up over a week and some days, during which time some of the onions rotted a little bit. I tried planting everything, though, and where some of them haven’t quite made it, you can see some bare spots, especially in the last few rows.)
- Strawberries. These were already planted and most likely about to flower by the time I arrived at the farm last year in April. This year, I planted these in an utterly painstaking stretch of two and a half or three weeks. Progress stopped and started to allow for the weather to work out its issues (there were three or four snowstorms) and for some of the beds to be rebuilt (one entire row collapsed, and two additional brand-new rows were built). I despaired that it was taking me so long to plant all the strawberries, and in the end, it may be that we planted some of them too early and succumbed under a few showers of rain and snow. On the other hand, some of the plants looked iffy as I was planting them — inevitable, I guess, because it’s hard to keep them in optimal conditions for a few weeks while you’re waiting to plant them. Either way, we lost about a fifth of what we planted and had to replace it.
- Cherry tomatoes
- First batches of kohlrabi, cabbage
- Sweet peppers
- Some watermelons
- Some musk melon
Yet to be planted:
- More cabbage
- Hot peppers
- Some watermelons
Last year I was living with my folks, with an acre’s worth of varied gardens, the upkeep of which probably could have been a full-time job. During this spring, I have managed to get over there on exactly two days which have been pleasant and conducive to gardening. (Sidenote: there have been maybe four total such days during this spring.) I will be getting back there to try and work on all those gardens as much as I can, though, because I still think of them as mine, too. Oh, so greedy!
This year I have managed to do more or less nothing in those gardens, except clean up the south half of the gardens out front. This involved digging up the four Japanese barberries that were planted there before we moved in. There are some pretty barberries out there, but these aren’t it, and we found them distracting and disliked how they obscured our lovely spring bulbs.
Shrubs, before and after:
One delightful thing we discovered in the front garden: most of the peony transplants from last fall made it.
From my shade garden (the patch of garden to the north of the part where the barberries were): the flower of wild ginger.
And here’s the crab apple blooming over my shade garden. This was about a week and a half ago.
Oh, and as for what’s happening in my vegetable garden at my parents’? Next to nothing, haven’t done any work on it. Some fugitives from last year have crept in: catmint (seed escaped from a pot I had sunk in the ground, which NEVER GERMINATED last year and ONLY GERMINATED now, in the middle of my effing strawberries), three stray onions, some arugula. I think it’s arugula. I’ve bought a bunch of tomato 4-packs I intend to grow there, along with the following things: beets, onions, maybe potatoes, basil, cilantro, and carrots. Maybe that’s it. Maybe I won’t get too ambitious. Oh — maybe some corn. And cucumbers. And pumpkins. That’s not too much. OH wait, peas and beans, too. I BUILT A DAMN TIPI ON WHICH TO GROW THEM, AFTER ALL.
Most of the strawberries, year two. I have five plants, five different varieties, all seem to have come back.
I thought maybe this was an anise seedling, from a seed that didn’t germinate last year.
I believe this is arugula, from a mix I had last year. What I discovered: I don’t like arugula so much. But I can’t bring myself to pull it.
Some of the onions that didn’t grow last year! Three, yes, THREE of them!
Holy crap, this columbine in the backyard got big.
Oh, creeping Charlie. So weedy. But so pretty when it’s in bloom! This is growing all over the same patch where the columbine is.
Beautiful bleeding hearts bloomed again this year. They were apparently on sabbatical last year.
Last fall I moved to an apartment and I suppose if I really wanted, I could do some gardening on the weedy dirt patch on which the house is situated, but I don’t particularly feel like it. All of my gardening activities here will be confined to my south-facing balcony. The balcony is a nice size (pro) but it is slightly rickety (con) and I’ve been advised not to go out there, really, until such time as it is reinforced (most likely never). I’ve decided I need to grow things out there, which is more important than any safety concerns. So I just tread lightly.
It’s really not too bad on that thing. I…think. It’s not a far fall, anyway. I’ve gotten to take home some of the ornamentals and the herbs we’re growing at the farm, and at my other smaller gig, I’ve been dangerously, dangerously exposed to all kinds of interesting things, and I end up doing at least a little shopping virtually every time I work there. I have a few containers which I am tweaking even now, as I realize that my designs leave something to be desired, or when I see that some plants aren’t filling in quite as much as I would like.
Here are some of my favorites on my balcony, starting on the left: strawflower, fivespot, Dahlberg daisy, verbena, dianthus, African daisy, pansy.
I have peppermint, lemon verbena, parsley, sage, thyme, oregano, and marjoram for herbs. I also have a few kinds of tomatoes, ‘Celebrity,’ ‘Goliath,’ ‘Abe Lincoln,’ and some kind of red cherry. Also two habaneros.
SAAAAAAAAAAAAGE. And the other herbs.
I rescued some ‘Amish Paste’ that were being left to languish and die at the farm. They actually look much better in this picture. I KNOW. Hard to believe.
And finally, this and the next picture are two general pictures of most of the assemblage of plants on my balcony. As of a week ago, anyway. I’ve changed the arrangement in the planters on the left, but that’s basically what they look like.
Annnnd some more.
A GARDEN CENTER
I got some really patchy, part-time work at a greenhouse/garden center that will be closing down for the end of the season at the end of next month. It’s been a different and fun sort of experience for me, although it’s only a few hours a week. That’s enough to change things up a little bit, though, and I hope I can return next year. I might share some pictures around there because it’s a really sweet set-up and there are some novel plants there. Whenever I’m working, I end of snapping some pictures of things I haven’t seen before, or things I want, or just things that are looking particularly good. They like doing pretty plantings in unconventional containers, like in an old tin or a teapot, and these are the sort of things for which the word “darling” was invented. Particularly the teapot ones.
And that is as much of a recap as I can do of the last three or so months.