Monday, April 13, 2015

The Start of My Spring Garden



Spring is the time of year that birds begin their spring songs, animals give birth, and the earth sprouts new life. How glad I am to replace my winter jacket with work jeans, a sun hat, and sun glasses. My hands were just itching to get dirty and my finger nails are already stained from the dirt, but I don’t mind. Gone are the days of pretty painted nails. Instead I’ve embraced the quote on one of my favorite shirts that says, “Farm girls ain’t afraid to get dirty.”


The greenhouse gave me a jump start with gardening. I would be behind schedule without it. It also saved me hundreds of dollars. I see dollar signs when I look at my plant babies. The hardest part is keeping the seed trays moist now that the sun’s penetrating rays have hit. I water sometimes 3 times or more a day, but I just keep my garden vision in mind.


After just a couple of weeks, my seedlings were already ready to transplant. Squash are fairly quick to get big, but tomatoes and eggplant are my slowest growers. Gardening is part perspiration and the other part patience. If you are too early in the year your hard work will freeze before your eyes literally!

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If you look closely you will see the new green growth coming on my lavender. Many of my herbs came back despite the snow. Even my peppermint is coming back. I had a lot of leaves piled around the plants which was like insulation. Gardening isn’t all about appeal. It is also about being practical and using what you’ve been given.


Speaking of using what you’ve been given, my parents got two truck loads of mulch for free. Yes, it had twig, pine straw, and even garbage in it, but you can’t beat FREE! My plants don’t seek to mind. I think it is oak mulch with pine mixed in. It really locks in the moisture. I did research and found that oak mulch attracting insects is a myth.

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To show you the lengths I go to for my plant babies… My mom and brother helped me get my seedlings inside when some late cold spells hit.

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Having a ground cover crop was a great idea, but it ended up looking rather weedy. It is technically chicken forage and the chickens indeed like it, but I can’t stand the weedy look. So about three garbage bags later, I’m making head way. The nitrogen fixing pea plants did go in the compost bin so no worries. I was so intense on getting the weeds that I broke the hoe! It was what I call a “baby hoe” anyway. I had to laugh at myself for that. I ended up relieving my stress, but broke the tool in the process. It is really old anyway. Oh, well. Add it to the wish list.

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Cut worms are the critters you don’t want hanging around your garden. The biggest thing is prevention. I saved my toilet paper rolls all winter and I’m recycling them to protect my seedlings. I even used them to stop the bug that was eating my spinach plants. It is so frustrating to lose seedlings you’ve put such effort into.

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Last year the squash borer took the life of my squash. It was painful, but got me into researching. This year, I’m putting aluminum foil around the stem. I hope it works.

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My plants are coming back especially green. They have been acclimatized after the snow and the rough weather they’ve been through. Each week it seems like a new plant appears. The latest surprise was that my Common Milkweed which is the native host plant for the Monarch butterfly came back!


This posting would be complete without a picture of our chickens. They have a part to play in my garden. We compost their manure to use in the garden. A funny fact is that our rooster is named “Mr. Darcy” after the key character in “Pride and Prejudice.”


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Also, my family has two new baby goats! This is mocha and our other goat is cocoa. I hope you enjoyed the update. I’ll keep you posted on the happening around SHAPE Eco Farm and Elizabeth’s Secret Garden.

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