Officially 3 days into spring, and everything's busy preparing for the oncoming season. The temperature has sustained around 50°-60°, with very little frost at night. Today's high is predicted to be 70°. I suppose I should work on a few spring chores before it rains tomorrow.
The garden, of course, has been enjoying these conditions. The tulip leaves have been popping up, and the crocuses are in bloom in the front garden. I was surprised by a few daffodils in the south garden among the spider-lily leaves. Lately, I've been noticing daffodils everywhere in the neighborhood and recalling how much they delight me with their cheery selves. Save for the crocuses, the front flower garden is so void of color. So I think I might tuck a few daffodils in next autumn. I'm thinking also of adding some more crocuses, especially some smaller varieties, to add more interest. For now I'll just have to wait for the muscari, tulips, and allium to flower.
The vegetable garden is progressing slowly towards production. I planted peas outside last week and started some tomatoes and herbs indoors. Just yesterday I was able to plant a few of my cole crops in the ground--the bok choy, kale, and raab specifically (which you can see in the photo). If you look in the upper right corner of the photo you'll note what appears to be glass. This is one of the old windows I've been using as cover at night, just to stave off any late spring frosts. When we moved into our house in 2006, we found all sorts of odds and ends in the basement and attic. We have several windows and window screens, along with doors and what the inspector called "museum quality" knob-and-tube wiring. But my boyfriend and I are natural packrats who like old, weird things, so we look at such objects as opportunities, rather than landfill fodder.
Anyway, speaking of vegetables, may I entreat you to plant some kale?
I've eaten the stuff several times, but I've never grown it until this year. It germinates and grows very rapidly compared to nearly everything else I've planted. I have very little doubt that in less than another month I'll be rewarded with a bevy of leaves to sautee or throw into a tasty minestrone soup. This is a Russian variety, which means that the leaves are flatter and less curly than the Scottish varieties you often see in grocery stores.
Yes, it is a wonderful vegetable.
Lastly, yesterday Rob (my boyfriend) and I attended the orientation for our CSA. "CSA" stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It's like a subscription service for direct-from-the-farm produce where, for a few hundred dollars, you get a weekly supply of vegetables throughout the growing season. Our CSA, Fair Share Farms, maintains a blog to keep members up to date. I chose them because they had the most convenient drop-off point in the city and are committed to organic methods. There were a lot of people at the orientation and sign-up yesterday, which was both hectic and heartening. I'm glad that so many people like me are getting interested in supporting local agricultural economies and caring more about where their food comes from. Another interesting benefit of this CSA is that we are required to work a few hours on the farm in Kearney. We signed up for a couple weekends in August, so it will be a while before we contribute, but I'm looking forward to seeing the farm and how it operates. I'm excited!
If you're interested in joining a CSA, I recommend this website as a starting point. You can just input your zip code, and they'll throw out a few farms close by. There are over 2000 CSA's throughout the country, so chances are there's one in your vicinity.
I've been wanting to write a new post for over 2 weeks now, but alas, I was waiting for all my seeds to arrive before blogging and one company was running a bit slower than usual it seems. I finally got all my seeds in last Friday and then spent the weekend out of town to celebrate my nephew's first birthday.
This year I'm trying to improve on my planning and get as much out of the garden for as long as I can. I'm also maintaining my crop rotation design (based roughly on suggestions in Rodale's Illustrated Encylopedia of Organic Gardening). Already I've got lots of plants sprouting, some of which will be ready to plant once the soil dries.
Here are the varieties I ordered this year:
Territorial Seed Company
Fava Bean, "Broad Windsor"
Potato, "Caribé" (Organic)
Dwarf Pac Choi, "Ching-Chiang"
Shelling Peads, "Dakota"
Buttercup Squash, "Discus Bush"
Romaine/Cos Lettuce, "Flashy Trout's Back" (Organic)
Kale, "Improved Dwarf Siberian"
Bush Beans, "Jade"
Crisphead Lettuce, "Reine Des Glaces" (Organic)
Broccoli Raab, "Sorrento"
Sugar Snap Peas, "Sugar Sprint"
Romaine/Cos Lettuce, "Winter Density"
John Scheeper's Kitchen Garden Seeds
Shelling Beans, "Black Turtle"
Romanesco Broccoli, "Shannon"
Collard Greens, "Morris Heading"
Tomatoes, "Enchantment" (F1 Hybrid)
Pinetree Garden Seeds
Nasturtium, "King Theodore"
Flat Leaf Parsley
Dill, "Dukat Strain"
Basil, "Italian Large Leaf"
Broccoli, "Waltham 29"
Cabbage, "Early Jersey Wakefield"
Cabbage, "Danish Ballhead"
Cauliflower, "Early Snowball"
Yellow Wax Bush Beans, "Gold Crop"
Summer Squash, "Ronde De Nice"
Tomatoes, "Black Krim"
That's a lot more than last year. One of my big shifts in strategy was to focus attention primarily on open-pollinated strains in order to eventually achieve a level of self-sufficiency. I've also invested in early and late season brassica varieties, so I will ideally be able to harvest in late spring and autumn. I'll see how this works out as the season progresses.