Saturday, February 27, 2016

What's In My Garden Now? Labor of Love

11 beds down, 5 to go!  Waiting for slightly warm and mostly dry weather to begin prepping our raised beds for planting is a sure sign of spring.  That is one of the benefits of raised beds, is that they can be worked much earlier than in-ground gardens. It is also easier to loosen weeds or to turn cover crops when the roots are shallow, before they take off for spring.

Side benefit:  Prepping raised beds is a great way to work upper arm, shoulder, core and inner thigh muscles by hoeing, weeding, raking, bending, stretching and reaching.

Chicken benefit:  They get wheelbarrow loads of weeds, tender roots, and an occasional worm or two to scratch through and continue the cycle of creating compost that returns to the garden.

I've already planted sugar snap peas, directly sown, and have some spring greens in a "hoop house".  As winter approached, we made a simple structure of PVC tubes and plastic sheeting with plastic clamps over one of the raised beds.  I planted spinach, lettuce and mustard greens - envisioning some wonderful add ins to boring winter iceberg salads.  The hoop house wasn't quite tight enough for it to get warm enough for things to grow, but seeds did germinate and some lettuce plants survived. We will re-engineer it next year. Meanwhile, I'll roll the plastic back on warm days this spring, with the ability to cover the bed as needed for cold nights.

Collards and kale seem to have survived the winter and are bouncing back with some new growth.

I top dressed a few beds with compost that is full of nutrients that will work their way down into the soil with the spring rains or that will get turned in to the soil as I plant the beds.
Looking forward to getting more seeds sown and more things started in the potting shed.  Broccoli, beets and Brussels sprouts are on my wish list!

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