Things of spring

I can’t say spring is my favorite season, but it sure is a lovely time of year. Every thing is growing and blooming and popping up every where.

irisI planted these last year and had no idea what color they were. My mother-in-law was thinning her bed and gifted me an entire tub of Iris roots. I learned later they originally came from her mother’s garden. I love that.

Early spring gardenThis is my garden about a month ago. Onions, lettuce, carrots, spinach, beans just planted and peppers. It looks A LOT different now! A whole lot more green, growing food things.

Mixed green lettucesOur first lettuce harvest of the season. Baby greens, an Italian mesclun mix and oh so yummy! What do you look forward to most from your garden in the spring? While I love the tomatoes (can’t beat a garden fresh tomato), I really, really look forward to the first greens of the season. To me, that means the growing season has officially begun and if everything else shrivels up and dies, at least I had lettuces.

ShroomsGuess what else loves our wet, wet, wet spring? Mushrooms! I have no idea what kind these are but they sure love my manure pile a lot. And that’s a good thing because mushrooms are excellent at making good compost.

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Still digging away…

I think we have the raccoon problem solved for now. And all it took was adding a different lock to the chicken yard door. No more fatalities since the additional lock was added and the chicks are all now free-ranging during the day and LOVING it. The adult chickens are still terrorizing the turkey chicks, but, the turkeys are growing fast and I think they’ll be turning that aggression back on the chickens before long. Hoping for peace in the coop sooner rather than later! I’ve never had this problem before and I don’t really know what the issue is. The turkeys and chickens have always gotten along in the past, but for some reason, my adult chickens, really, really don’t like the turkeys this year. They killed one of them early on when it was still fairly small and have bloodied the heads of the remaining chicks. The pecking is lessening as the turkeys get older, so that’s a good sign.

I managed to get the rest of the peppers planted, 17 in all, all of the tomatoes are in (25 plants, egads!) and all of the sweet potato starts are in the ground and looking pretty good (18 of those sweet little things). The peas are looking fabulous, the replanted swiss chard is coming back up and I picked up and got planted two purple cabbages because The Man requested cabbage and I didn’t start any this year. So, those are his I also got all the herbs I started in the ground. If the basil does well this year we will have endless quantities of pesto to make and put up for the winter. Yum!

All I have left to get in are cucumbers, melons, squash, zucchini, beets (a really late start on those!), butter beans and another section of spinach.

I’m hoping (planning) to get it done this weekend, the weather willing! I’ve managed to go through more than half of my compost so I picked up of a couple of bales of straw to cover the garden paths with (weed discouragement and moisture/soil retention). I usually put compost on the paths, not straw, but apparently my garden dreams are bigger than my compost pile this year!

The garden leftovers

The summer vegs have eked out their last fruits of the season and are now on the quick decline towards brown and dead.

We’ve had a couple of light frosts that are drawing the growing season to a close and I’ve been out in the garden frequently trying to get the last few edibles in. I have the butternuts in, the cucumbers have been done for a couple of weeks, my tomato plants are absolutely loaded with hard, green tomatoes that will never see a rosy blush and the zucchini are still going gangbusters. I have a few cantaloupe and watermelon left but they aren’t quite ready yet. The bell peppers are still producing like mad, but this year the fruit has been odd. Typically I get big peppers begging to be stuffed with a meat and rice mixture and baked until soft. This year, none have been much bigger around than 2″ or 3″ at the widest part and flat as a patty pan squash! Weird. They are fully ripened and absolutely delicious, but there were no stuffing-worthy peppers this year.

And the compost pile grows as I start pulling dying vines and plants from the garden and layering them with egg shells, coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, horse poo, chicken poo, grass clippings, fireplace ashes, etc. etc. Every year I stand staring at the mountain of dead tomato and pepper plants and wonder what the hell I’m going to do with them. Burn them? Compost them? Chuck ’em in the woods and let nature happen? I hate wasting them when they do compost so nicely and give back to the earth they grew from.

But you hear three firmly differing camps on composting the tomato, pepper and eggplant plants to use back in the garden.

One side says never, ever, ever compost them! Blight! Wilt! Rot! Disease! The risks outweigh the benefits, even with healthy plants.

The other side says, sure, go ahead compost away but make sure you are composting healthy plants, never, ever diseased plants because even the heat from a properly cared-for and turned compost pile won’t destroy fungus spores. Which makes sense.

And a third side says burn ’em to crisp and mix the ashes into the garden soil for a worry-free, disease-free soil additive.

Mine aren’t quite ready to burn, and I haven’t decided whether I’ll just knock them down and till them right into the garden or put them on the compost pile. My plants were all healthy this year despite a miserably hot season and very little rainfall.

Oh, decisions, decisions!

Life is Good!