Spring Obsessed

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Raised and Ready

Raised and Ready

Yesterday I realized that the collards that have wintered over so well have noticed it’s about to be Spring and are getting ready to go to seed. I quickly made them into everything from frittata with onion and bacon to classic Southern-style ‘greens’ to bags to give away to anyone who haplessly stopped by my house while they were still here. Waste not, want not. ;-)

Saying that I am a bit obsessed with gardening at this time of year is polite understatement. The minute the weather breaks, which is four or five times a day this week, I am rushing out to dig compost into soil, turn new planting beds, pot up young tomatoes or check on the peas.

Inside Starts vs. Direct Planting

Inside Starts vs. Direct Planting

I gave up the container I was using as a cold frame and decided to test the wisdom of starting bean seeds early. They sprout well, grow fast and are hard to keep from getting leggy, not to mention carrying them back and forth from the house for hardening off. So, I took a six-packs worth of Roc D’or Yellow Wax Bush Beans (55-60 days) and popped them into this cosy bed along with roughly the same amount of seeds planted today. The left over space I filled in with Jewel-Toned Beets (55 days) because the very next planting bed over, a shallowed raised bed build into the patio, I have other beets grown from early transplants to compare them with. The front and back edges I filled in with King Midas carrots (68-75days.) They will take longer than the beans or beets in this bed, but the soil here is so perfect for them–fluffy down at least a foot–that I couldn’t resist.

Onions Waiting

Onions Waiting

I tucked the first of the onions into their planting bed this afternoon, between rain drops. The soil in my raised beds drains well enough to work even when the weather has been wet for weeks. I planted the Red Long of Tropea (90 -110 days) I grew from seed given to me by the folks at Blue House Farm.

 

 

Red Long of Tropea

Red Long of Tropea

 

These beautiful Italian onions have a unique shape that I think will appeal to the kids and they are meant to be eaten fresh when they bulb in the Summer. They are considered Long Day onions. The Red Onion Festival is held in Tropea during the first week of July, and our lattitude is a bit South of them, so here’s hoping.

I started work on two new raised beds today. My husband actually did most of the work for the first bed, a 4’x4′ built with the remains of a Square Foot Gardening kit. It will be in a sunny spot that was part of our lawn until this morning. Tom cut out the sod 6-8″ deep and I’ll fill that with Lyngso Essential Soil Mix when we fill the kids’ Dirt to Dinner willow beds.

Square Foot 3' x 3'

Square Foot 3' x 3'

The second bed is in a sunny corner that might be slightly shaded by the artichokes. I guess I could always cut them back if they get in the way. Those guys could survive without a leaf or two. This bed is built out of two 3’x3’s from the Square Foot Gardening kit, for the extra soil depth needed in this spot. It’s up against the fence and I have done what I could with the soil under the bed but it still ain’t pretty. This one I dug some compost into and will fill with potting mix made according to the Square Foot Gardening method, for the most part. My measuring is never too exact. I have had very good luck with their soil mix over the last few years even though the vermiculite it calls for is hard to find in “coarse.” I also don’t like the warning label that comes on the vermiculite bag, so if you can suggest good alternatives, let’s hear them!

Broccoli Raab

Broccoli Raab

Here’s a job I really need smaller hands to help with. I think every last Broccoli Raab seed I planted spouted–twice! And now I need to prick out the plants that are too close together and move them to another spot. You’re supposed to do this before the leaves touch the leaves of the plant next to them, so I’m already very late. I know I could snip some of them at soil level to thin the patch, which I may yet muster the courage to do. But I go to a lot of trouble to sprout these little guys! I hate to go out there with scissors and chop half their heads off just like that! Maybe I can move them into flats for the Dirt to Dinner kids to take home. A lot of them like broccoli…I wonder if I have a flashlight bright enough to work by…

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