First Day in the Garden

Spring has taken its sweet time this year leading many to wonder if it’s actually going to show up. There have been the odd warm days, but nothing has stuck so far. One day just last week it snowed off and on all day. It was like nature was mocking us. But things are slowly changing, and tuesday we were actually able to get into the garden for the first time, and it felt great.

We’ve overhauled the garden plans this year and are aiming to make five permanent beds to rotate. Jesse’s dad climbed on the tractor and gave the garden a good, deep till, and as soon as the kids saw the fluffy soil, their shoes came off.

They spent a lot of time squishing, throwing, running and burying their feet in the soil.

Meanwhile, Jesse planted his much anticipated patch of malting barley, and has big plans for it this year.

Last year, he planted two regular sized packets of seed, and thought only one stalk of barley would grow from each, but to his surprise most had at least three stalks coming up, and at the top of each, a head with over two-dozen new seeds. That’s what I call exponential growth. He ended up with a brown paper lunch bag full when he was done threshing it on our porch. All from two packets.

Well, he’s put it all back in the ground, and based on last year’s harvest, he’s going to have more barley than he knows what to do with. And we’ll probably need a combine soon.

Our garlic is up and thriving, which is a good sign as we continue to eat our garlic from last summer. We’re trying to use it up quickly before we have fresh garlic scapes and shortly after that, the 2013 crop.

Our heirloom apple trees are budding and look promising this year. Last year we had some incredibly warm temperatures in the spring… well, actually, all winter long. Many plants started to bud mid-winter, and then those buds were killed off by the inevitable frosts to come. Apples and cherries in our area were a complete loss. This is one of the reasons we have been okay with a slow and steady spring, while other complain about the cool temperatures and cheer for freakishly warm patio days in February.

We dug around to find the first asparagus shoot coming up. This year we will actually be able to eat from our little crop after letting the crown, or roots, mature for a few seasons to be able to stand up to being cut back multiple times each spring.

We transplanted a struggling rhubarb plant into the garden last year, and it looks like this is the year it’s going to thrive.

Strawberries are greening up nicely.

This year we are excited because we are actually making beds in the garden so that we can have a proper crop rotation, instead of just winging it and remembering (or forgetting) what we planted where last year.

And the first thing to go into the soil (after the barley) was our 300 onion sets.

We’re looking forward to building a more permanent garden at the farm that should handle all of our needs. Not too much, just enough. It’s only our third year with a big garden, but we feel like we’re finally getting the hang of it. We’re by no means pros, and definitely still on that steep incline of the learning curve, but there’s a lot less fear and worry when it comes to planning things out.

Here’s to a great growing 2013.

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