Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Spring of my Content...

Once the rains slowed down in the middle of April, Mark & I built a big 12 ft x 12 ft garden of cedar boards to hold some sweet garden dirt.  Well, I directed while Mark built, since I was all banged-up with my epic sprained ankle.
He filled the box with dirt, and finally I hopped hopped hopped outside and helped spread dirt over the grass that we first covered with plain old newspaper we've been hoarding for a while.
Why? It smothers the grass. No way Jose was I gonna turn over all that damn dirt. It would have been smart to smother the garden area starting last fall with large pieces of  heavy plastic held down by big rocks...but, last fall I didn't know if I was gonna wake up in the Spring still here in Tacoma, in this house.

The first things I planted were onions, radishes, carrots, turnips and peas. I'm really happy to see the odd colors of vegetable seeds finally available at the Fred Meyer and local nurseries. Only a few years ago, one had to mail order these European and heirloom seeds from specialty nurseries here in the states and from Europe.
I'm not a snob about the seed company. I only want a reliable product. I'll buy local, distant, or from self-saved local gardeners too.
Ed Hume...gotta love that guy!
My mom was a fan of the Burpee catalog, and she would circle her faves...and mail away a money order in January...but we were in California, where Spring starts in February, and the tomato plants can go in the ground in March....I kid you not!

So, if the gods are kind, and the slugs slow, purple, cream, salmon, yellow, and hot orange carrots will grow...pretty cream and pink turnips, and Early Perfection, a good old Northwest standby shell pea will sprout.

The radishes are a mix of Champion, d'Avignon, Pink Beauty, Purple Plum, and Snowball....all in shades of purple, plum, red, pink, white and bi-colors. I've grown these before and the flavors are the typical radish-peppery and slightly sweeter, I think.. They sprouted in cold soil in only 6 days from planting, and I expect a first harvest about mid-May!

Radish seeds, along with big bean seeds are the best for getting kids excited about gardening since they sprout fast and that is very exciting for a child that's impatient to see fruits....and vegetables of their labors....and still very exciting for grown-ups too.

Here's the garden bed almost full of dirt....look at the sunshine! What a glorious day that was...I couldn't stay inside and ice my ankle... I had to get outside.

So, here's the first radish sprout....this was only 6 days after planting....

All planted on the south end....more will go in....Oh so much more! Tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumber, squash, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, lots of herbs....and marigolds and nasturtiums for color and fun.

If I'd had more energy, and it's not too late, I should have covered the soil, both planted and unplanted with sheets of plastic...either clear or black, to warm the soil.  That would have encouraged the seeds to sprout faster, and that is exactly what I'm gonna do this week on the other end of the garden before I set out more of the warm weather varieties....Only Spring vegetables can sprout in the cool soil....The summer vegetables must have warmer soil to sprout than what early May can give, here in the frozen Puget Sound...(not exactly that frozen...)

Inside the house I planted red lettuce, green lettuce, broccoli,spinach vegetable seeds....and cherry tomatoes, stocks (one of my faves for scent!), and asters, basil, peppers, and another old-fashioned garden favorite...cornflowers! Also known as bachelor buttons, these are so beautiful in shades of blue...which is the rarest color in the garden.....and shades of pink and white also...I love them all!

2 days! after planting, and I have sprouts ...That, my friends is the difference of warm soil.

I used corn plastic spoons to make little garden signs...I have used wood popsicle sticks, or if I have them, wood tongue depressors ! But, I kinda like the spoons idea.

I always soak my nasturtium seeds before I plant them. That speeds up the sprouting....and if there's one thing I gotta have in the Northwest spring...It's speed in sprouting. Our growing season is so short...that I want to get going.
I don't have a greenhouse this year, so I'm starting things in the house and just getting out and in the dirt on every sunny day.

I've waited months and months for Spring, and I don't want to waste a day!