Sunday, May 8, 2016

Early Year for Planting

This Mother's Day weekend, I had the opportunity to do quite a bit of gardening. Every spring, I look forward to getting out into the vegetable garden to dig and plant. As I have written about before, I have two tiny patches in the backyard, one for berries, and one for veggies. The previous owners landscaped the yard with shrubs and perennials, but I have reclaimed these two spaces for my annual food growing activity. 

I use a square foot gardening method to maximize the productivity of the tiny garden. The photo below shows how the food garden looked after my efforts this weekend.


In the foreground, there are chives and onions. This corner of the garden gets little sun, but the onion sets I put in about mid-April are thriving. Behind the chives are tomato transplants (the dependable Early Girl, and Lemon Boy, a new experiment). I have never, ever put my tomatoes in before June 1, anywhere that I have lived in Canada (except possibly when I had a greenhouse). 

I have also planted basil transplants and pole beans. This is very early to be planting tomatoes, beans and basil where I live, hardiness zone 4b. The rule of thumb here is to plant on the 24th of May weekend, and to expect frost on Labour Day. I also have planted from seed spinach and lettuce (mid-April), and carrots (today).

In this photo you can see the herbs that have returned from last year: parsley, savoury, thyme, sage, and oregano. In the little triangular garden in the back against the fence, the raspberries, rhubarb, and strawberries are thriving. Because I have so little garden space, I plant potatoes in potato bags and set them around the patio. I have started the potatoes in their bags, but they are not visible in this photo. 

We also have flower beds. I have a perennial bed at the front of the house and also a raised bed that the annual flowers share with potentilla and spirea bushes. Yesterday, Rob and I filled it with wave petunias and a few transplants of some strange orchid-like flower I have never seen before. 

The natural soil here is heavy prairie clay. I compost, and use it to augment the soil. For the yard waste component of the compost, I am very careful to use only leaves and grass, etc., from our own yard. Many people here seem to use herbicides and neonicotinoids indiscriminately, whereas I garden organically. I also have purchased bags of sand, manure, and organic black soil most years. 

Gradually the soil in the food gardens has become deeper, looser, and richer. The flower gardens get short shrift, though, as by time I get around to thinking about augmenting the soil, it is too late -- the perennials are already up, and we have already planted the petunias. 

I might have stayed in the garden a little longer this afternoon, but the thunder was rolling overhead. The wind was roaring through the trees and blowing things around the yard. Now, an hour later, the wind is still blowing hard, but the thunderstorm seems to have passed over. A slight misty rain is falling, barely enough to dampen the ground. 

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