Well friends, the first of May is upon us and the garden is now in full swing. We had a beautiful, though windy, weekend and I spent most of Saturday and a few hours on Sunday working in the garden. Saturday was Spring Clean-Up day at the community garden, when the tool shed is cleaned out, the lawn mowers are tuned up, and the hoses are installed. Clean-Up Day is also the day when a couple of local farmers bring truckloads of bagged compost and bales of straw for gardeners to purchase.
I bought two bags of compost, two bales of straw, and a bag of chopped straw mulch. I put down a thick layer of straw over the paths between the beds to help keep the weeds down. Over the course of the summer the straw breaks down, and in the fall what’s left of it will be raked on to the beds to mulch over-wintering crops and to add more organic matter to the soil. I like to used the chopped straw to mulch within the beds. Since it’s finely textured it doesn’t get in the way of my little seedlings trying to push through the soil. It helps the soil retain moisture, and eventually breaks down and enriches the soil.
This year I’ve taken on a second garden plot. When I first learned about the community garden I thought the 20 x 20 foot plots sounded enormous, but it didn’t take long for me to start thinking about what I’d do with a second plot. While the first plot is an orderly grid of nine 4 x 4 beds, we’re going to let the second plot grow a little more wild. The plan is to plant tomatoes and tomatillos along the two outside edges, and grow pole beans on a teepee in one corner. We’re going to plant a few kinds of melons and winter squash in the middle and just let them take over. I was a bit overwhelmed by the all weeds in the new plot, but Saturday we made great progress. We pulled up all the weeds, put up our bean teepee, and prepared a bed for the tomatoes. It’s nearly ready for the plants, which will go in at the end of May.
On Sunday I spent a few hours sneaking a few more rows of radishes into the beds wherever I could find room for them. I noticed that the spinach and tat soi are about to bolt, so I sowed some more of those, and I started another round of lettuce too. When I was all finished with my sowing and watering, I harvested radishes, spinach, pea shoots, and chives. At this stage when so many of the seedlings are so tiny, it can be hard to imagine that they’re ever going to grow. But each week there’s a little bit more to harvest, and it won’t be long before I’m bypassing the the produce section all together. A very nice feeling indeed.