April was rough. It started out with a brief warm spell that lifted the hopes of a productive spring; those feelings were quickly dashed with bouts of snow and cold. But this past weekend was warm, albeit very windy, and it was time to catch up on spring chores.
I finished adding dirt to my second hugelkultur garden, and finally knocked down the rest of the dirt pile from last year. I still don’t have enough to cover all of the areas I want to turn into gardens, but it’ll be fine for now. Once the general garden footprint was done, I actually took out paper and a pen to sketch them out and create somewhat of a plan. I’m not good about putting together a precise map because, in my experience, it never works. But I need to have a general idea of where I’m going to plant everything on my extensive list. I still don’t know if it’s all going to fit, but we’ll give it a try.
Since the soil temperature was over 50 degrees F it was time to plant potatoes and a few other veggies. I planted potatoes at my Electric City Conservatory community garden plot, plus added a couple of rows here at home. The few extra potatoes I had went into the hugelkultur beds. It’s good to mix the varieties on the bed to have a true polyculture environment. It’ll also be a good experiment.
I planted the broccoli and 3 of the ‘Kaitlin’ cabbage plants (these are a type used for sauerkraut), and then covered them with the floating row cover. Cabbage and broccoli are both pretty hardy and will withstand below freezing temperatures, but the row cover protects them from the wind as much as anything. Little seedlings take a beating when the wind is howling around 45 mph.(And it looks like our cat Josephus appreciates the protection, too.)
We ran out of onions last year, so I’m determined to plant more. My favorite variety is ‘Copra.’ It’s a yellow onion that reaches 3-4 inches in diameter, and is a champion when it comes to long term storage. During normal years, we’re still eating last year’s onions in May. I started the ‘Copra’ seed in February and early March, and the boys helped me plant a bed with roughly 160 plants. I would’ve liked to cover this bed, too, but didn’t have enough floating row cover because the mice chewed them to pieces in the garden shed. I wasn’t happy. (The other pieces are being used in the greenhouse.) The row cover also helps retain moisture since the wind sucks every bit of moisture out of the soil. Once more arrives, I’ll cut off a piece and pull it over the onions to give the poor things a little protection.
The boys planted a few things in their garden beds. They used the beet seed tape my friend Nancy sent to us, and thought that was pretty neat. They also planted the ‘Ogalla’ strawberries I purchased from Bundi Gardens. It’s a Zone 3 strawberry so I want to give it a try. Sam seeded ‘New Red Fire’ lettuce, ‘Yaya’ carrots and ‘Neon’ Swiss chard from Renee’s Garden Seeds. John put in ‘Yellowstone’ carrots, watermelon radishes and buttercrunch lettuce. Once again, the wind proves to be a challenge because it dries out the seed bed badly, but they should do okay.
There’s a whole lot we need to do as the days grow more mild, but it was good to start the season by putting a few things in the ground this weekend.