Roll Out Those Hazy, Crazy, Lazy Days of Summer!
Well not quite yet but now during the delightfully mild days of mid spring is the time to be setting up your garden with the goal of working easier when those hazy, crazy, lazy days do come.
Now is just about the time in my area of the last frost date, although with my north sloping yard I may be jumpin’ the gun by a week or ten days. However clochės are at the ready. These are basically “bell jars” that will be used to cover the plants overnight should we get a frost advisory or frost warning. In the early part of the 20th century, when large estates had not only their own gardeners on staff but also large greenhouses, clochės were made of heavy glass. In my case, I’m the sole gardener on staff and old plastic milk jugs with the bottoms removed get the job done, …and done cheaply.
This week here at Hunny-Bunny Farm we’re taking advantage of the nice weather in anticipation of an upcoming rainy week to get the warm season plants in. Yesterday I planted the early Butler corn; the Cherokee yellow wax beans; the Kentucky wonder beans; black beauty zucchini squash; the yellow summer squash; the double yield cucumbers; and Roma sauce and the Rutgers tomatoes in the main “row” garden. I also brought the salt hay bales into the garden, placed strategically about for quick and immediate access once the newly transplanted seedlings get acclimated, and with next weeks rain I will be able to spread the hay for a protective mulch …and none too soon because I noticed small weed seedlings and volunteer vegetables from last year already coming through the soil surface. Today I turned and planted the beds in the so-called rabbit garden,
because it is here that I keep my female Florida white rabbits. I planted some more potatoes, these would be the Yukon gold from last year, the Marketmore cucumbers, some red bell and Anaheim peppers, and the heirloom Brandywine tomatoes, along with the remainder of my herbs and a large stand of basil. So at the moment my greenhouse stands empty. The timing lights have been shut off and the door latched wide open. Except for occasional potting it won’t be further used until September.
One of the key aspects of any successful garden is nutrition, with water being the chief nutrient. The rain next week will get the garden off to a fine start. If, over the course of the season, your garden is barely making it the likelihood is that there is firstly, not enough water; secondly, there may be need for feeding nutrients. There are telltale signs for both of these situations and with experience you will begin to know the different signs. For instance, if your plants are a light green instead of a rich and robust hardy “Kelly” green, you are probably in need of nitrogen. Also experience will tell you which plants are more nutrient demanding. Corn as an example is a heavy feeder and depending on your soil, may need to be fed every week. Onions also need good nutrient levels, most especially compost, but most importantly they need plenty of water to make nice globe-like bulbs; and this must be done right from the planting of the onion sets. Some vegetables are relatively maintenance free, in that their yield comes easily with seemingly little help from the gardener. Here zucchini, tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers come to mind.
So for most of the readers of Catholic Rural Solutions now is the busy time of transplanting and direct planting of seed in the garden. Hard work now will payoff in spades when the hot, humid, hazy days come along, and that is just around the corner. During those days I don’t anticipate hot sweaty work in the garden but quiet and cool fishing along the banks of rivers, streams and lakes. Ah! …it doesn’t get any better than this! The weather is mild right now and some elbow-grease in the garden today is not only necessary but quite pleasant, especially after the long, cold, snowy winter we just passed through.
Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.