Today was a lovely gorgeous day, and a most welcome relief from the unsettling winds, clouds and cold temps of the last several days. Nighttime temps got down into the low 20s this last week!
Larkin and I were preparing beds in the northeast part of the garden for planting peas, carrots and eventually cabbage. We first dug up the grass, then broad forked to loosen and aerate the soil, then added compost. Tomorrow the Super SugarSnap Peas we’re soaking overnight will finally be planted! It will be interesting to see how these outside ones compare to the peas in the greenhouse which are about 10″ tall now.
Soaking, by the way, gives the peas a few days head start with sprouting. You just want to be sure you really plant the next day otherwise you may rot your peas.
In the perfect world, we’d have all-out beds prepped a month before we plant. Ideally, the soil is “awake” and humming with life before planting. It takes some time for even finished compost and aged manure to integrate with existing soil systems. You especially want your soil to be moist for a while, you need moisture to support soil life. Think about the worms you want wiggling and making tunnels and castings.
We put our kale and arugula starts out on the 4th, which is early but they were ready to be out of their 6-packs. They’ve been under agribon, a protective garden fabric, to keep from freezing. It’s great stuff, you can water through it even, but you have to remember to uncover your plants once in a while to check their condition. I’d taken sneak peeks but today uncovered the beds to assess all the plants and they were wanting some attention. Some of the outer leaves were looking wan so I pinched them off. Plants gather their energy through their leaves (photosynthesis) and need all of them when they are small. But when they get a bit bigger it’s best to pinch off any leaves that aren’t healthy. There’s no sense for the plant to waste energy on unhealthy parts of itself.
Also, some plants hadn’t settled in well so I re-tamped them. When transplanting you must firmly tamp the soil when planting. The plant takes in nutrients through the soil and must have complete contact with it. You don’t want any air pockets around the roots! Often you’ll hear not to compact the soil, which is true (!) but don’t worry about that when settling your plants in.
I think the kale and arugula will be OK now. Really though the test for my garden is that plants must tolerate some degree of benign neglect—wussie plants don’t cut it in the desert!
Another thing about the spinach is that they too had been covered by agribon, but they’re in the hoop house where it’s warmer of course. A lot of seeds germinated under it (another great use—germination ) and so now we have lots of arugula and chard starts too.
Once you’ve had a garden in the same spot for a while you’ll get lots of volunteer plants. I love that and take advantage of moving those around to where I want them and offering them to friends. That’s another spring-time garden project! So far this year I have as volunteers: parsley, arugula, borage, cilantro, tomatoes, chard, lettuces, dill, chamomile, feverfew, honey locust, raspberries, blackberries, comfrey, and I’m sure more is on the way—tomatillos, certainly. An abundance already!
– Brynn Brodie
Red House Farm & Boulder Skills Foundation Founder