Spring planting has finally begun! I absolutely love this time of year – the richness of well composted soil, healthy worms wiggling as I turn the ground, the hopefulness of putting a seed into the land and waiting for it to grow.
I’m always amazed by what can be planted in March and April – the weather can be so fickle and the chance for growth seems so low. Many root vegetables and greens thrive in the cooler weather, though, so when I get a break in the weather I get to work.
Getting my soil ready to plant is still a challenge – the overgrown field will take years to tame. A simple turning fork is the best tool for this work. I get the leverage I need to work clay-filled soil and it breaks up the clods instead of leaving huge divets. The hens love the clover, dandelions, and chickweed I pull from the beds – and the worms that cling to the roots! The cats – Darryl and Maggie – are loving the field time. Darryl’s learning about spring chores, while Maggie has taken to sitting on the new water tank and observing my work.
Onions were the first thing to go in, and I’m planning to plant a second bed in a few weeks. I love yellow and red onions so that’s what I plan. I use them in everything – they are foundational to my curry and tomato sauces and salsas – and I love them roasted on the grill. I’m happy with how my new bed markers turned out also. They are much easier to read than last year’s version and my toes will be saved, too!
Next up: potatoes. Goldens are my favorite – creamy when roasted and a lovely texture when mashed. I like to boil them and store them in small portions so I can make hashbrowns (or hash) with my fresh eggs for breakfast, too. Rather than purchasing seed potatoes I just saved my potatoes that started to sprout this winter – I shop at Sprouts so I know my starts are from good organic stock. They were small so there was no need to cut them (you want one eye per potato hill), and many already had sizeable vines when I was ready to plant. Years ago my friend Kelly told me that potatoes should be planted by St. Patrick’s Day – it’s one of the few vegetables that I don’t have to mark on my calendar to remember!
The next bed down: kale. I planted two different types – Blue Curled Scotch and Nero di Toscano – because I use them differently. Both work great in juices. I like curly kale in my stir-fries and curries, but prefer the flat kale for salads. Several clients were excited to learn that I grew kale, so I’ve planted more than 40 seeds of each type. It’s a fast growing plant and it lasted all summer. The hens love it too – they were thrilled to get the gleanings and the past-their-prime plants.
Peas were the first to go on the teepees. So far I’ve got 3 teepees set and planted; I’m planning to add a second row and doubling that. I’m hoping that staggered starts will give me some longevity with my plants this year. I planted a new-to-me vining variety called Tall Telephone on the legs with a bush variety I’ve used for years underneath – otherwise I’m wasting planting space!
Our recent snow and cold has me a bit behind getting things in the ground, but the seeds are set out and ready for the next good days. Spring!
PS: This is what a winter’s worth of coop bedding looks like – the soil will thank me for these nutrients!