It has been unseasonably warm lately. I spent all day Saturday working in the garden because it was sunny and nearly 70 degrees F outside. I couldn’t stand to be indoors. And the garden is waking up and needs attention. I pulled back some more leaves and mulch in the garden boxes to discover that I have hundreds of seedlings coming up in one box. What are they? I haven’t a clue…but I think some of them are spinach. I saw what I am about 99.99% sure was a small true spinach leaf on one seedling. And there’s more garlic. LOTS of garlic–all over the place. Some of it I remember planting around the edges of the garden box last fall to serve as companion plants, others are coming up as gangs of garlic sprouts from entire bulbs that never got separated. Things are crazy out there.
My sage survived the winter and is beginning to show signs of regrowth. The oregano has exploded with new green leaves. My Egyptian walking onions have made an appearance. The garlic in the garlic beds, the ones I actually intentionally planted–in rows, with labels, are pushing through their winter mulch. Time to uncover all of these babies to let the sun shine on them!
I planted 3 boxes this weekend, a risky endeavor so early in the season. But the risk is worth it because 1) the long-term forecast looks favorable 2) even if we have some cold weather, most of the things I planted are cold-tolerant 3) even if we get a heavy frost, some things might survive, especially if I take care to cover them and 4) I’ve got plenty of seeds to re-plant if need be. So why not try to push the limits to see if the gamble pays off? And 5) it’s just fun to be out playing in the dirt.
First I planted potatoes and snow peas. Then I planted a menagerie of things, including carrots, rutabagas, fava beans, arugula, collard greens, kale, spinach, pac choy, Chinese cabbage, beets, lettuce, more snow peas (yellow-podded, my favorite), and radishes. Then I decided to take another risk and plant half of my artichoke starts. I almost planted all of them but decided to hedge my bets…just in case. But there are no forecasted lows below freezing for the next 10 days, so I think I may go ahead and plant the remaining plants out this week after work so that they get a little bit of exposure to “winter” and keep my fingers crossed that it will be enough to trick them into thinking they are 2 years old and mature enough to set flower buds. Artichokes get so large that the 9 plants I have will eventually fill an entire garden box–a lot of space for so little, if any edible harvest, so I will have to find some quick-maturing items to plant in the empty spaces between the young plants to make the most of my beds. I’ve got some lettuce starts in the basement that should fit the bill nicely.
I started some seeds for broccoli, cutting celery, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts this weekend. Given how long some of my other seedlings took to get going, I might almost be too late, but that’s part of my learning curve for this year with my new grow light set up in the basement. If things get off to a slow start, I’ll know next year to start earlier. This weekend I’m going to start peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants. Hubby is amused how quickly I’ve transitioned from skiing to complete and total garden brain.
I’ve had gardening on the brain so much that I even called on a small (33′ x 95′) lot in my neighborhood that I noticed was for sale a while back. This lot is on my way to work, so my thought was it would be a nice spot to plant more fruit trees and shrubs and more garden veggies, with the intent to sell a few things to passers by. It would be uber convenient for stopping in to and from work to weed, water, and pick a few veggies. In doing the math, this lot is less than 0.1 acre. The asking price? $40,000. That’s over half a million dollars per acre, if you were to extrapolate. And THERE’S NO WATER! A water line would have to be run from the sidewalk–not super expensive, but not cheap, either. Where does he think this is, Jackson Hole, WY? Hardly. So I did the math, again–a 20′ x 40′ plot at the community garden runs $50/year–with unmetered water. If I were to rent 4 plots, which would cost me $200/year, I could garden for 200 years before I hit $40,000. I think I know what the better option is, at least for now.
Our Rhode Island Red has finally gotten in on the egg-laying action. For a while we thought that maybe her egg-laying days were over, as she is about 4 years old now. But once she laid her first egg late last week, it dawned on me that she typically lays eggs from mid-March through mid-October. I guess I’d just forgotten that when our other chickens all began laying eggs in January. Today when I got home from work I checked for eggs and we had 4! And they are a nice range of colors, too: white, tan, brown, and green. One of the eggs today was especially poopy. I don’t know what it is with the Ancona, but she seems to have some of the poopiest eggs of any chicken I’ve ever had. I mean, I know that the vent serves as both a waste disposal system as well as egg dispensary, but for cryin’ out loud, how hard is it to let the systems take turns? Apparently Miss Ancona hasn’t figured this out yet.
Poopy egg! And not just a little bit–go big or go home!
The culprit–she looks like a poopy egg layer, doesn’t she?
The Stinker and I went for a run this afternoon (after collecting the poopy egg). I had just about decided that her running days were over, at least for this year, because it’s been so warm and she is just having a harder time keeping up on our runs these days. At nearly 10 years old, she’s beginning to show signs of her age and stiff joints. Last summer we would turn on the water hose and douse her with water before our runs and hikes to help keep her cool. She does fine on the uphills, but the downhills are really hard on her. Just last night Hubby and I were discussing how we need to get her out swimming more this summer, which would still be good exercise but easier on her joints. But when I got home this afternoon, Stinker was bouncing up and down, obviously full of energy. It was overcast and a cool 45 degrees F outside, so I decided I would take her with me. She was so happy when I asked her if she wanted to go for a run. There was no way I could leave her home, so I chose a route that wouldn’t be too difficult for her on the downhill. It was a fairly short run, but she kept up for the most part and I could tell that she was one happy doggy when we got home. When Hubby got home from work, she was still full of spunk, and he even took her out in the yard to play with a tennis ball. Today might be her last run for a while, as it’s supposed to warm up again this week—great after work gardening weather. We’ll just have to alter our routine and do long evening hikes instead of runs. And maybe find a swimming hole to visit.