We had 6 inches (15 cm) of heavy, wet snow Thursday night through about Friday noon. Yesterday was about 45F (7C) and today it is 58F (14C) which means most of the fresh snow has melted. It’s time to get started in the garden!

future polyculture bed

future polyculture bed

Today Bookman and I made a trip to Home Depot and bought ourselves new garden gloves and cinder blocks for our raised polyculture bed. Oh, and seed starting mix for starting a few things in our mini greenhouse in a week or two. We put down the blocks for the bed and obviously have some leveling to do, but it is a start. In this bed will go a lettuce seed mix, spinach, radish, beets, dill and parsnips. As the early veggies get pulled they will be replaced by purple cabbage, broccoli and beans. The bed will get filled in with soil and compost and seeded over Easter weekend in two weeks. So excited!

While out in the garden we walked around inspecting plants. Walter the crab apple has buds. So do Finn the huckleberry and Chandler and Boo the blueberries. I was worried my very little bush cherries Jan and Joel would not make it through the long cold winter but they have tiny buds on them too. In the herb spiral, the oregano, catnip and sage all definitely made it. Not so sure about the lavender but I will be very surprised if it greens up since it is generally very marginal

garlic sprouts

garlic sprouts

here anyway and I didn’t give it any winter protection. And I can’t tell whether the lemon balm and sorrel made it. They die back to the ground and nothing has sprouted yet but it is early. And I was so relieved to see the garlic I planted in the fall that sprouted because it got warm again before winter set in appears to have made it through as well.

When I was buying seeds earlier this year I also bought a big bag of white clover seed. Clover is a green mulch. It fixes nitrogen in the soil and it shades the ground keeping weeds from growing. When it dies back, you just leave it where it is so it continues to act as mulch but also as in-place composting. I have never done this before but that is how it is supposed to work. I broadcast a bunch of the seed in my front garden beneath my apple trees this afternoon. Most of the grass beneath the trees is gone because the trees shade it out and because for the last two or three years we haven’t raked up any leaves in the fall. Last year we had a bit of rust on the leaves and even though we don’t have any junipers nearby (junipers are host plants for rust), I read that it can also overwinter in the tree leaves and one should rake them all up in the fall. So we did. And I greatly regret it.

wellies and clover seed

wellies and clover seed

I regret it because in the process of raking up all the leaves we eliminated a lovely layer of mulch and overwintering home for beneficial insects like spiders. It also left the ground bare so who knows what sort of weed problem we might end up with this year. After a few years of letting the leaves compost in place, the soil is dark and rich and lovely and because we cleaned up the leaves from the fall, nothing will be added to it this year. I feel like I ruined a nice little ecosystem, an ecosystem that, in hindsight, might have been able to take care of any of the rust fungus, keeping it from coming back. The clover will help as a temporary replacement for all the leaves, I hope.

The sap is running in my maple tree. I saw a squirrel scratch at a branch and then start licking up the sweet sap. Something, I don’t know what, has actually bored a small hole in the tree about 15 feet up and there is a small trickle of sap dripping out. Bookman and I each caught a few drips and tasted it ourselves. It was good! We are considering tapping the tree next spring and trying our hand at making syrup. We’ll see.

Earlier in the week the Friends School Plant Sale catalog arrived in my mailbox. I rushed through it like a thirsty person in the desert who just found a watery oasis. Oh I’ll plant this and this and this, and oh my gosh, that sounds nice too and I definitely need one of these and I have no idea where I could plant that but wouldn’t it be great to have one? Today Bookman and I started going through it together beginning with herbs and vegetables. Bookman ran out of steam when we got to the two-page spread of heirloom tomatoes. The sale isn’t until May 9th so next weekend we will pick up where we left off.

It is so nice to be in the garden again even if it is still too early to do much. A few more weeks though and I will be despairing about how much there is to do. I can hardly wait!

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