12 May 2010
and the garden begins...
Folks, spring is here. Even though it was nearing 80 degrees last month (I believe it was officially the warmest April on record) and lightly snowed last weekend, this is a Minnesota spring. Indeed, we've been harvesting rhubarb for a few weeks now (from our massive plant!), and earlier this week we had a dinner of sautéed morels on toast with roasted asparagus, all local!
I started to get in the gardening spirit a few weeks ago when I dug up my raised garden beds in our new backyard--I thought I was double digging them, but apparently didn't do it quite right, oh well-- something is better than nothing, right?! I added compost and topsoil and turned that in, and then walked a few blocks over to our old apartment to dig up my six lavender plants I'd planted there and a bunch of raspberry canes to transplant into our garden. As I was toting my rusty old wagon full of plants back across a fairly busy intersection to my house, I'm pretty sure I interrupted a minor drug deal on the corner (don't worry mom!). Oh the joys of urban gardening! I got a lot of funny looks.
This year, in my annual effort to have the best garden ever, I signed up for an urban farming class through a local nonprofit organization. Though much of the class seemed to be geared towards those who were setting up urban farms for profit (which I am not planning to do, at least not anytime soon), I did glean quite a few new ideas that I plan to try this year. Most of the interesting techniques I learned about were from a method called Biointensive Gardening, and Small Plot Intensive Farming (SPIN Farming)- and had a lot ways to have very productive gardens in a small space, including using techniques like companion planting and succession planting. (The Biointensive Gardening method is described really well in a book called How to Grow More Vegetables- even if you don't follow the method exactly, or at all, it's a really great resource for gardening in small spaces!)
Of course, my gardening space is so small, that pretty much everything is companion planted! After learning all of these new ideas, I began to feel a bit paralyzed about how to plan out my garden. Last week, I sat down with some books, my fresh 2010 gardening journal, and just began to sketch it all out. I'm not going to get so overambitious as to try to fully implement all of these methods right away-- in fact, that's not even always recommended (in How to Grow More Vegetables, he suggests just trying Biointensive Gardening on a 3'x3' area of your garden for the first year).
I did get my start a bit late this year, or maybe it just felt that way since April was so dang warm. In mid-April, I ordered a whole slew of seeds from Seed Savers Exchange, an organization I am really excited to learn more about and get more involved with. I also ordered potatoes, which are currently sprouting in my windowsill and will be planted in burlap sacks this weekend (more on that in a different post). It was too late to start seeds indoors, which I accepted I would just not have the wherewithal to deal with this year, given everything else I've got going on in my life, but I ordered everything I'd be able to direct sow into the ground, and some things (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, herbs) will just be purchased as seedlings from local farmers at the market.
So...here's what I'm planting this year (vegetables):
Kale (Red Russian and Blue Curled Scotch)
Lettuce (various leaf lettuce varieties)
Beans (Green, Purple, and two kinds of dry beans for soup- super excited to try this!)
Squash (2 varieties of zucchini, summer squash, butternut squash)
Tomatoes (all different kinds of cherry and full-size)
Peppers (bell and jalapeño)
Potatoes (yellow and red)
...and Garlic bulbs will be planted in the fall.
I also have a whole list of herbs and medicinal plants that I'm doing as well, but in the interest of space, I think I'll save that for a different post! Like I said, I'm really excited to try some new vegetables this year (dry beans! winter squash! melon! potatoes and garlic!) and also to try some new planting techniques. I have more room this year as our new house has two raised beds (in addition to other space too) and I'll be keeping my plot at the community garden just a few blocks away (that will primarily be the squash patch!).
Tell me, what new things are you trying in your garden this year? I'd love to hear some of your ideas out there too!