Thursday, April 30, 2009

Same Song, Second Verse

And what a lovely, lilting, luscious song it is! The joyous rising of new green from earth, a concert of many voices!

We--AP, JK, and I--have been working steadily, and making great progress at getting spring planting in despite the rain. We console ourselves that though we wish we'd gotten more done sooner (like before they arrived!), we're getting a lot more planted than most folks are right now, with all this rain. With our perfect soil and hand tillage, we can plant very soon after a rain and not ruin the soil or bog down in mud. Heavenly!

So the garden is sprouting forth profusely with all colors of lettuce, kale, spinach, peas, Asian greens, radishes, etc.

But there's more--there's crops we haven't planted yet, already coming up.


My favorite variety of any crop: volunteers! Potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes left in the ground last fall are sprouting up to grow a new crop with no help from us. And in a couple beds where carrots from year-before-last went to seed last summer, bright green ferny foliage is popping up all of a sudden.

We encourage these volunteers. For one thing, they give us our first crop for some vegetables, like potatoes. I don't plant potatoes until I see the volunteers sprout--then I know that growing conditions are ideal, and don't plant so early that the seed pieces rot. This year we'll have Pink Wink, Kerr's Pink, and several other varieties.

Yes, the volunteer potatoes are in the lettuce and onion beds. That's ok. Since we harvest by hand, we'll just work around them. They are important: the plants that are hardiest, store well in the ground all winter, are healthy and disease resistant. The Kerr's Pink really looks like an entire bed--lots of sprouts, since we never did a final dig on that bed after several "rummaging" harvests. Pink Wink is doubly precious since the variety has never been in our seed supplier's atalog--it was sent to us as a substitute for something that was sold out, and was an instant favorite at Farmer's Market. One overwintered tuber stewarded this variety when we learned that we could not get it from the grower, even when we asked for it by name. We've now had it 4 years.

The carrots are in unplanted beds, so we'll just work around them--a little awkward, but again, we want to encourage the strains that require little fussing, and these that seed themselves are best adapted to our conditions. The plants would have had to winter over in order to bloom and set seed, since carrots are biennial.

There will be more volunteers in a few weeks, when the soil is warm enough for the tomato volunteers to germinate. These aren't always true to type, since some were from hybrid parents, but we often find some fun "off" types if we let them grow out.

There are also "strays"--seeds that didn't germinate last year, but decided to grow this year instead. A lone lettuce, a single elegant Red Russian kale. We'll probably transplant these to some odd corner, so we can plant those beds unimpeded.

And then there's things seeding--overwintered radishes, bok choi, arugula, tat soi, turnips from ones that grew from overwintered bulbs winter before last. The seed-saving bug seems to have bitten.....

Best of all, though, is all the wonderful wild edibles. Each year we get to know new ones, and learn to use and appreciate them. Dandelions, lambsquarters, chickweed, garlic mustard, violet, and more--welcome easy salad mix!

Do you hear a faint hum? That might be me purring with contented pleasure in the abundance of the spring garden.

No comments: