Early Spring in the Delicious Potager

It seems like spring is speeding right by. Weren’t we scraping ice and snow off windshields like a couple weeks ago? (Wait, I guess we were still doing that at the end of March.)

Spring is a super busy time for gardening. It feels like you go from zero to sixty in the garden in a matter of a couple days or one nice weekend. There’s seeds to start, soil to till, cool weather plants to get planted, and all kinds of planning for the rest of the growing season.

A few weeks back, I spent some time getting ready for the growing season. I ordered some new seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I have ordered from them or Seed Savers Exchange in the past. Both are great sources, with lots of odd heirlooms that are hard to find these days. I don’t use all the seeds usually, and they will keep from year to year if you store them properly (dry and not a huge temp change) but you do loose some germination percentage as the years go by. I wouldn’t count on having much success past three years.

This year, I added asparagus to my garden. I am stoked since it’s one of my favorite vegetables, and supposedly fairly low maintenance. And a perennial. A friend of my mom’s who has a huge garden gave me a couple crowns as she was splitting hers up this spring. I won’t harvest them this year so they can get established, but they did already shot up some stalks. The hardest thing for me was trying to decide where to plant them. I hope they’ll be around for several years. But, that means I need a permanent place for them in my garden. I settled on one of my small raised beds. I figured I could plant something with shallow roots around them so I don’t waste any space, since asparagus has such a short season. I sowed some spinach around them. With all this rain, it’s growing like gangbusters in there.

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Last week, I also took down my hoop house since I doubt we’ll have any more frosts. I had some kale that I over wintered under them, along with more kale, radishes, and lettuce I planted earlier in the spring. Now that the plastic is off, I look for it all to start growing like crazy,  too. I wasn’t watering it as much as I should with the plastic on it–one of the draw backs of a hoop house with warm spring temps. It gets hot and dried out quickly.

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After several weeks, I see that I have some tiny carrot seedlings. I had almost given up on them. Carrots do take a long time to germinate, but I was getting worried.

Of course, my vegetable garden is the focus of most of my effort, but I’ve been thrilled with my flower beds this spring. They are so low maintenance and full of perennials. It’s nice to have something growing out back that I can enjoy without stressing out and worrying about it–unlike my vegetable garden.

Last weekend, a family member was clearing out her flower beds and sent mom and I some perennials she divided up. I was planning on extending my flower garden at some point, but with the new goodies to plant, I went ahead and added about five feet onto the end. I planted a hosta, irises, buttercups, and lady’s mantle. I’d never heard of it before, but look at these leaves!

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Very neat! She also sent some lily of the valley, which I was particularly excited about since it’s my birth month flower.

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This spring I did build a new raised bed. I’ve been wanting one like this for a while–long and narrow that sits against the chain link fence so I can grow peas and beans. I just need to get some dirt to fill it with. It’s eight by two feet. Perfect for a row of beans.

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And, limping along, are my tomato and pepper seeds I started in the first week of March. They should be bigger and sturdier by now. I’ve never had much luck starting seeds, but I continue to try. I planted two kinds of tomatoes, but the Rutgers were the only kind to germinate. Also, out of a dozen or so pepper seed starts, only three germinated. They are lipstick peppers, a long sweet red pepper.

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I hate wishing away springtime, but it’s so hard not to be anxious to start harvesting from my garden. And enjoying the summer blooms in my flower beds. It won’t be long, though. By the end of May last year, I had so much arugula coming out of my garden I couldn’t eat it fast enough. With gardening, it seems there is never a happy medium. You’re either getting nothing or have vegetables coming out your ears.

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