Garden Daybook 5/9/13

Finally, we have had several days of sun and warmth. I’ve been in the garden all day everyday. Yay! So far I have edged the 8 raised beds and covered the paths with fresh straw. I have trimmed 16 lavenders and topped an upturned crock with a large pot of annuals. The garden is drying out, warming up, and looking as if a gardener is in residence. It feels like heaven indeed.

May mulched mulched path 2 small

Greg has mowed the yard at least 4 times and has begun to collect the clippings for garden mulch. We try not to waste anything on our property – small downed branches are saved to fuel the chimnea, larger downed branches are chipped for flower garden paths, fall leaves are chopped and bagged for next summer’s mulch, and grass clippings are collected and piled in the vegetable garden for mulch.

May 1 grass clippings small

The raised beds have finally dried out enough to till and plant. All the beds had lime, compost and chopped leaves dug in last fall. When Greg tilled the beds this week he said the soil was “beautiful”. We’ll see how the garden grows this summer!?

May early tilling 2 small

The October planted garlic is already close to 30 inches tall. I mulched the bed with chopped leaves collected last fall and added another layer this spring. The chopped leaves control weeds and keep the soil moist. Garlic grows until late July when I pull it and hang it to cure. I always have enough to replant in October and some for the kitchen over the winter.

May Garlic small

The row to the right in this picture shows perennial leeks that were a gift from a gardening friend. I planted the small bulbs last October. The leaves are shorter and bluer and the plants are shorter and stouter that the garlic to the left. They definitely look like leeks. I have not grown these before and I am excited to see how they mature. I hope I have enough for the kitchen and for a second October planting.

May 8 perennial leeks small

The Shallots, also planted last October, are beautiful. Our chickens found their way into the bed last fall and I was not certain if they had destroyed them. I waited anxiously this spring and TaDa! they grew. I love the idea that, when you plant one shallot, you end up witht 6-8 shallots. I pull them in July and cure them on screens in a shady spot protected from rain. I save some for cooking and some for planting again in October. A friend in one of my classes brought me some French shallots this spring. The ground was still frozen so I planted them in pots and grew them under lights in our basement and planted them a few weeks ago. I want to see how their growth compares to the October planted shallots. So far the spring planted shallots are much smaller – even with their indoor start. Gray shallots are the ultimate french shallot. Territorial Seed Catalog is charging $20.50 a pound for Gray shallots! Their catalog describes them as the “ultimate variety” Gray shallots are encased in a tough, leathery skin that must be cut into and peeled off to reveal a red streaked, garlicky shallot. I splurged on a pound a few years ago and should not have to buy shallots for planting again. The routine is: October planting, late July harvest, some to the kitchen and some saved for October planting – repeat every year.

May shallots small

I have begun to carry flats of transplants from the hoop house to the garden. I always have a sense of satisfaction when I transplant what I have grown from seed. So far the celery has been planted – 53 of them. The transplants look rather pitiful and small but I know, once they develop a good set of roots, they will send up new growth and be beautiful. This is my favorite celery variety, Tango. You can see that everything gets a mulch of grass clippings as soon as it is planted.

Celery in early May small

I have also planted the Fingerling Potatoes. Here they are, in their trench, before they were covered with about 4 inches of soil. I will continue to backfill the trench as the potato leaves push through until I have a mound about 10 inches high. The potatoes will grow up into the mound.

Potatoes seed pieces row small

I chitted the Fingerlings – simply laid them out and allowed them to sprout – for about a month. You can see how they pushed growth sprouts. Chitting potatoes means that they will mature potatoes earlier – it basically gives you a head start. Plant the chitted potatoes eyes up.

Potato fingerling eyes small

The gardens are filling with blooms and I thought I would end this week’s Daybook with a picture of a very special flower. My Spanish Bluebells were sent to me in a cardboard box. Across the side of the box my Aunt Mema scribbled “Blue Flowers”. When I noticed them blooming earlier this week I smiled, remembering how funny we thought her label of “Blue Flowers” seemed at the time. My bluebells are precious memory flowers. Thanks for the memories and the smiles, Mema. We all miss you.

May Bluebells small

Hey from the farm,
Fran The Country Cousin

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