April 20, 2010, 12:11 am
Filed under: Garden

OK, where was I?  Somewhere around here, I believe?

Greens and radishes were popping up, and bulbs were starting to bloom everywhere.

April 14th was the new moon, and not planting or transplanting anything in that last week leading up to it (which apparently is not an auspicious time for anything but harvesting, weeding, etc.) was such a struggle that, in fact, I failed.  On April 10th, which I called a compromise day because my solar lunar wall calendar, made locally in Menominee Falls, seemed to think that it was an OK day to plant even though I couldn’t figure out why, I seeded more greens in the coldframe: Rainbow swiss chard and Grumolo Verde and Grumolo Rosso chicory (radicchio-type) that our neighbor brought back from Florence.  Then I gave in a little further and seeded more green cabbage, cauliflower and collards, rapini and Bianco Avorio cardoon (again from our Italian neighbor), fennel, basil and dill inside in flats on the kick-ass lighted shelves.

The new moon came and went on the morning of the 14th, and as soon as I could get out of bed (not having to work that day), I seeded yet more greens in the coldrame: the two kinds of arugula again, a lettuce mix and three kinds of individual lettuce (including a new one from Seed Savers I found recently: Yugoslavian Red), more catalogna puntarelle (another chicory, which our Italian neighbor apparently doesn’t know by that name, maybe because it’s Catalonian, not Florentine?) and more spinach.

I had started to bring the loaded trays of the oldest brassicas, alliums, greens and herbs outside each day to harden off, and the 14th was a beautiful day for green things:

It was so lovely that the poor, shaded tulip in the back of the “back 40” decided to bloom.

I don’t know what kind it is– apparently one of the tenants here before us planted it– but it’s rather breath-taking and makes me impatient for the fancy tulips I planted in the Fall to bloom.  The bigger hyacinths (Peter Stuyvesant) had been considering blooming and getting a little more confident every day.

And, contrary to lore that says snowdrops should pop up and bloom in February (really?!), we finally got a snowdrop.

All of this blooming and almost-blooming coincided with a day the calendar touted as decent to plant more flowers, so on Friday I seeded Painted daisies, more echinacea and evening primrose and ground plum, Red Marietta marigolds, Variegated nasturtiums, strawflowers, Thumbelina zinnias and Zinnia elegans as well as more broccoli (including Romanesco this time) and cauliflower (they’re sort of like flowers, right?) inside and morning glories and calendula outside.

One of the places I seeded calendula was a new bed I started in front of the house next to Elef., which belongs to the same owner.  In exchange for letting us use his corner lot for our vegetable gardens, he asked us to plant perennials around the existing house next door.  I figured self-seeding annuals probably count.  But the soil around the house is incredibly rocky and hard, so I couldn’t get down very deep.  This is why, when we started our garden there last year, we trucked in load after load of compost, unloaded it in rows and just planted into that without trying to break up the soil underneath (we put cardboard down under the paths and mulched with wood chips, then mulched the rows with straw as soon as we had everything planted).  It worked pretty well for most things, although the monster daikon radishes I grew way too many of could only punch through the soil underneath so far before they started to bounce back up above the compost and stick their ungainly white shoulders out amongst the beans.  We’re planning on doing that for a lot of the beds we create around the house this year, but I figured I could scratch out enough of a bed for calendulas.  It took a while, but I got the seeds in and covered.  We’ll see how they do.

By this weekend, even my tomato seedlings were getting pretty big, let alone all the things I seeded starting in February, and I was dying to get things into the ground.

New Yorker (front) and Rose de Berne (back) tomato seedlings

This whole moon thing can be a real drag when there’s a beautiful weekend but the best day to plant doesn’t come until Monday.  So I tried to keep myself occupied, took a trip to the garden center to buy a strawberry pot, etc.  Finally, Monday morning (today) came, and I jumped out of bed, threw my gardening things together and headed over to Elef. for some planting.  The Ozette potatoes that arrived almost two weeks ago were finally starting to show some tiny itty-bitty little sprouts in the eyes, so I threw those into the last potato trench, covered them up, and planted Bohemian horseradish crowns at the four corners of the potato bed.  Almost all of the peas I planted in March are up, but there were a handful of little gaps, so I popped a few more peas in.  I’d run out of the Green Arrow peas I thought would last forever, so I tried a new variety– Sutton’s Harbinger— along with the Golden Sweet peas I bought another packet of (they really are good in stirfry).  Then I seeded more Hakurei turnips, some Shogoin turnips just for their greens (I learned my lesson on the roots last season), more radishes and– here’s a new one for me– some hulless oats.  I’m probably planting everything too intensively as usual, but I broadcast the oats over two beds where I’m going to sow corn and beans in a few weeks, in hopes that they’ll provide a green mulch without competing too much.  I’m sort of half-hoping to harvest some usable oats at the end of the season (thus the hulless variety), but we’ll see how it goes.  I seeded some more clover on the easement we established last year, and then I went around to the shadiest side of the house next to the garden to see how things are looking over there.

I knew I needed to get home to finish planting things before we headed to campus to help cook dinner of braised brisket, mashed potatoes with roasted garlic, mushrooms and spinach for 75, but I’d told the ladies we share the garden with that I’d see if the soil is any easier to dig on that side of the house, and I thought it might be time to dig and divide the hostas and lilies.  Next thing I knew, I was carrying clumps of roots around the sideyard, trying to decide where they should go, sweating to dig holes in the water-logged, stone-filled clay ground (there’s a river under that section– literally), etc.  I never do leave well enough alone.

Back at home, covered in soil, I raced around seeding Hopi Red Dye amaranth and Magenta Magic orach in the coldframe, then popping soil blocks of several different kinds of lettuce, mizuna and Crimson Forest bunching onions in, trying to stay within the spiral formation but getting a little wiggly.  I didn’t have time to get pictures today, so I’ll have to try to get some up in the next few days.  I transplanted the one Georgia Southern collard plant that germinated and the many Lacinato and Red Russian kale plants into the front raised bed around the parsnips and radishes.  I’d talked to our neighbor about where to plant the Canada Red rhubarb crown I bought, but couldn’t remember what she said, so dug it in along the garage in a warm, sunny little microclimate that hopefully will work OK for it.  The herbs I bought from the DCFM on Saturday– Munstead lavender, epazote (yet again, I had a helluva time germinating seeds of this, and only one is growing) and salad burnet— went into the herb triangle and the bed along the fence.  And my favorite, most hopeful planting of the day: Sparkle strawberries (the most wonderful variety I’ve ever tasted, and the jam they make…) in my big new strawberry pot.  This will definitely require pictures.

And then, the proof of how truly obsessed I am: After chopping and cooking for a few hours and then racing across town to a wake, when we got home just as it was getting too dark to see outside, I flipped on the porch light so I could see to finish seeding some more soil blocks: more Genovese and Thai basil, Mammoth dill and Giant Italian parsley; and the cucurbits! Double-Yield cucumbers, Costata Romanesca zucchini, Delicata & orange Kabocha squash and Moon & Stars watermelons (not that I have any idea where the watermelons will go this year…).

I do tend to get a little over-excited.


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