Friday, May 1, 2015

Dogwood Winter Update

Things were moving along, baby plants were in the tunnel being hardening  off.  I had 11 tomato plants already in the hills.  I dig my tomato hills in the fall, add a bucket or manure cover with soil, mulch and install the tomato cages.  When spring arrives, I take off the cage, pull back the mulch, add a scant handful of epsom salt working into the soil, plant the tomato, return the mulch and tomato cage. I do spray with a kelp mixture as I feel it is needed.  Lettuce was planted in the garden and then it happened.  For over 2 weeks the nighttime temperature had been safe.  The heat had not turned on during the night, we had no issues with redbud winter, and then I heard frost warnings.

The tunnel had been opened, about half of it and we had several gentle farmer's rains.  I was thinking I may go on and take the cover off the tunnel but I am so pleased I stopped at the half way mark.  I was over run with seedlings. I had started my snow peas in pots as this is the only way I can grow them.  The mole/vole will cut them off at ground level, I began last spring putting the seeds in pots and had none of the pea plants cut off in pots, the ones I had planted just in the soil were taken care of by the mole.  When taking the pots out to remove and replace the soil I could see they really did work.  The 1 to 2 mole tunnels came to the bottom of the pots and stopped there.  I am using 6 inch pots which I plant in the garden.  I also have pole beans coming up in pots and will be planting these pots as well.

After hearing the frost warning it was time for me to think through what I should do to protect by garden.  The tunnel cover was replaced, floating row covers were placed over the tomatoes and lettuce. The peas were safe as i pulled mulch around them and they can take some cold.  We are into our second week of cold nighttime temperatures, The heat is coming on in the house, we are building small fires in the wood stove.  Some evenings we just hunker down under a warm blanket and enjoy the brisk air.

This time has been used in the garden, most of the beds have all of the chickweed pulled as it is going to seed, walk ways between the beds have been mulched.  Some of the raised bed borders have been replaced with new trees, cedar which was cut last year so it is ready to hold the soil in the raised beds.  I garden about a third of an acre using only hand tools so this break in the temperature has been welcomed.  Squash plants were getting to the point they needed to be planted, as I had started a few in pots to get a jump on the early planting of them.  They were planted and covered with row covers.  My inspection after having the row covers on for a few days, as we had to secure the covers because of the wind, found the lettuce taking a different shape and a need to pull the covers in allowing the plants room to grow.

The brambles are all getting there leaves, and showing how much they appreciate the time which we spent pruning them this winter and early spring.  The herbs which were thinned are coming forth and I only have memories of thinning them as they are growing abundantly. There were over 100 buckets (5 gallon size) of mulch moved into the garden.

I am so excited about the condition of the garden this spring.  I see it coming to a place I have wanted for so long.  The lettuce we are picking in the tunnel is loaded with flavor, it has wonderful spring flavors, the ducks await any lettuce trimmings I have for them.  Just watching how excited they become when I bring a basket of lettuce to their run makes me aware of how delicious the lettuce is.  Using our mulch, manure and homemade compost allows me to have control of my garden space.

Tree felling became slowed as one very large tree decided to become entangled in another tree.  With the rain we have been experiencing it was much too wet to move some of the larger equipment into the wooded area.  Mr Bootsie had to wait for several days for the wood's floor to dry some.  The tree became free with the help of the wrench on the truck and is now on the forest floor,  The wood racks are beginning to fill for the coming winter.

I am hoping there will be at least one broody hen as I need some chicks to help us make through the winter.  I would enjoy seeing this happen soon, but they have a mind of their mind.  Maybe blackberry winter will bring a broody hen.  The end of dogwood winter is coming later this week.  I will be planting more tomato plants and pepper plants.  The seeds for the snaps, butter beans and black-eyed peas need to go into the ground, the corn is in the greenhouse in starter trays, the first planting.  Oh, yes, I can't forget the okra.  You know it is spring when the strawberries begin to bloom and they have, we are finding little berries on the plants.

I am heading out to the garden, I shall harvest some lettuce and spring onions.  Time for my favorite sandwich of the spring.  Homemade bread, Duke's mayo, spring onions loaded with flavor and lots of pepper.  How lucky I am to have a garden which rewards me daily.