Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Spring Garden Goings-On

After a winter that stuck around way too long, spring finally arrived (although I did notice a chance of snow in the forecast). With the warmer temperatures, I've noticed sudden growth in the garden. Emerging are a few perennial plants that come back each year. We haven't done any clean-up or bed prep as it's still pretty wet. Traipsing through the plots now might cause soil compaction.

Annuals will be planted next month after danger of frost. The majority of our garden is grown from seeds with the rest, mostly peppers and tomatoes, purchased as plant starts from our local greenhouse. The frost free date for our area is around the middle of May. Find your frost free date here.

Our winter rye, planted last fall, will continue to grow until it's terminated (crimped, mowed, turned under). Cover crops specialists suggest you should avoid turning the cover crop under as tilling ruins the soil structure. We have ongoing conversations about tilling. Seems we have a hard time letting go of our desire for a "tidy" garden, concerns about weed suppression, etc. Hoping to experiment more this year. 

Pretty happy that the peach trees are budding. We lost a tree to the polar vortex in 2014 and with a similarly rough 2015 winter, I expected to lose another tree. But even in temperate winters, we've lost peach trees. They're finicky, and maybe not well suited to this climate. In any case, I'm always happy to see the buds appear. It lives!! 

Rhubarb is my favorite vegetable that acts like a fruit. It's one of the first foods we harvest each spring and gets preservation season underway with rhubarb sauce (freezer) and strawberry-rhubarb jam (canned). The bright, citrusy flavor is perfect in pies, cobblers and other baked goods. 

Chives are mature enough to cut! Chives are perfect when I want a hint of onion and they add a fresh flavor to dips and marinades. I think we'll have loaded potato skins topped with sour cream and chives this weekend!

Horseradish is just poking out of the ground. This might be the easiest thing we grow. It reliably comes back each year and one root provides us with flavor all year long. It's easy to grow and easy to preserve.

Not much to look at, but the blackberry canes are cool without their foliage. Like thorny medieval weapons jutting out of the ground. These native plants are tolerant of all kind of weather and produce a ton of berries. We've considered growing the thornless variety but they just don't do as well as the thorned variety. So we're careful when we pick.

Although cilantro isn't really a perennial, the plant does reseed itself. It fades during the heat of the summer and thrives in cooler weather. We'll continue to sow seeds throughout the growing season so we always have a supply of fresh cilantro. This plant is a volunteer from last year's seeds.

The strawberries are popping up. This is the second year for this stand, so we're hoping for a big harvest. This bed grows near (and sometimes into) the asparagus, which hasn't sprouted yet. Not too much of a concern as the asparagus is taller. Incidental companion planting.

Oregano is just peeking out. Cleaning up the plant will encourage new growth, and since it's in a raised bed, I don't have to be concerned with soil compaction. Just need to get some basil plants and we'll be ready for our fave pasta dish!
What's coming up in your garden? Leave a comment and let me know!

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