20100419

Spring May Have Sprung!

I am cautiously happy to say that the weather seems to be turning warm and sunny and I can finally work in my garden.  Cautious because we've had several false starts this year.  Below is my "before" photo. Yes, it looks like this every spring -- my compost pile is 6 x 10 x 4 feet.  Every year.  It will be bigger this year, because I haven't been as good about tending the garden in the last two years with all the country hopping and haven't grown vegetables in 4 years.
One afternoon in mid-March, I cleared about 500 square feet of weeds for vegetables with the help of a rake, a mattock and a quart of lemonade my housemate made from the meyer lemons in the front garden.  I also started seeds for tomatoes, basil and cucumbers.  That night, the cold and rain returned with a vengeance and continued for the rest of the month, with a day or so let-up here and there. In the meantime, the cherry and paste tomato seeds sprouted unwillingly, angry that I'd forced them out into the cold.  The Siberian tomatoes, which are supposed to do well in cooler climes never bothered to sprout at all! The cucumbers were decimated by snails the minute they sprouted. And apparently, the basil pot had coriander seeds in it!
See the seedlings above? This photo was taken 13 days ago. They still look like this, except there are fewer of them, because they hate me for drenching them in torrential rain and freezing them in polar winds. Luckily, I bought seedlings ready to plant from the nursery as insurance and plunked them into the ground, along with various bean, chile and corn seeds, on the first of April, one of the nice days.  Below is Piglet standing next to the little chicken wire fence we put up to keep her and other miscellaneous critters from trampling and digging. In the foreground are beets and garlic my housemate planted last fall, and swiss chard that has volunteered itself for the last 15 years. I only bought swiss chard seeds once, but it's reseeded itself every year since then.
We have had four straight days of clear, warm weather and among the new weeds that sprouted during the last rain onslaught, I saw little bean sprouts!  I am so glad that bean seeds are fairly hardy. These pole beans are an Italian variety that have a red pod when they go to seed.  The bush beans have sprouted, but don't look quite as vigorous.  No sign of the corn or chile, I think they might require another insurance run to the nursery for seedlings.
It feels good to be grubbing around the garden again. I seem to feel more "connected" with the food I eat when I've had a hand in being responsible for at least part of it. And I have to say although I enjoy the sorbet I made from strawberries I got from the farmer's market (red), I prefer the one I made from my oranges and meyer lemons (yellow).
Speaking of having a hand in growing food, my housemate is talking about chickens for fresh eggs. He got the idea because the neighbors have hens. I think that's too much like work! Has anyone here raised chickens?