22 March 2012

Spring = garden prep

Parsley, green onions and Russian kale to start
Despite my best efforts to properly mourn the winter-that-never-was, I found myself genuinely happy, more than once this week, digging in my backyard garden. I've never been a fan of summer; all that inescapable heat and humidity makes my blood boil. But picking vegetables from the backyard all summer long helps reconcile my feelings.

Diving under the cool canopy of my tomato jungle. Cutting into a ripe watermelon that started as a seed I picked from the flesh of last summer's crop. Munching on skinny string beans that hang from the fence as I pick a bunch for a salad or stir fry. Cultivating the bounty of my small plot can make summer bearable, and delicious.

This week was all about preparation. Tilling up the ground that was dormant since the fall, removing weeds that have grown in the very early spring we've been having and planning the rotation of crops to utilize the nutrients absorbed or replenish those that have been sapped.

I don't use store-bought fertilizer, so a thick layer of horse manure mixed with compost boosts the soil. I collect worms and other bugs to feed and entertain my chickens.

The hearty Russian kale has survived the winter. (Seriously, this stuff is amazing. It can live to ten degrees BELOW zero. I highly recommended it.) And a few green onions have wintered over as well. The parsley is already growing in bunches, but the frost-weary basil will have to be started from seed.

There's a lot of work yet to do and it's the thought of fresh broccoli that's keeping me motivated.

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