Wow! I did not mean to be away for so long! But cycling season and gardening season came around at the same time and other bits of life have been happening too. Whenever I had some spare time I was so tired all I wanted to do was curl up with a book. You understand. But, I am going to make an attempt to get back at it! I have gardening and chicken and bike and zero waste and all sorts of other stories to tell. So hold onto your seats!
Today it will just be gardening.
It was a cool, wet spring. We even got frost on May 19th! This did a number on the poor tomato we had planted the week prior. We covered it up but the top leaves got bitten anyway. The frost didn’t kill it but it dealt a blow. Now the poor thing is struggling to recover and regain its vigor. We finally warmed up to summer temperatures last weekend so hopefully it will be inspired to grow again.
Everything else has been inspired to grow, that’s for sure! The frost did not bother the peas at all and now they are growing visibly taller by the day. Some of them are already curling around the second level of string on their little climbing trellises. I also have little tiny lettuces, tiny chard, tiny beets, tiny radishes, and tiny carrots. Tiny is the keyword in case you didn’t clue in on that. Because of the wet—did I mention May was our the wettest May on record?—planting happened late. Because of the cold, sprouting took longer. Really though, I am just glad all the wet didn’t rot seeds in the ground. That’s happened to me before and then I end up with nothing except a whole season of disappointment.
After offering thanks and saying goodbye, we chopped down our five-year-old honeycrisp apple tree. It was a Japanese beetle magnet and after two summers of being completely defoliated, it was half dead. For the last two years it got fruit but every single apple would end up falling off or rotting on the stem because of the beetles. We never did get to eat one. Bossy, our green apple tree in the front yard bloomed like crazy and Walter, the crabapple in the backyard was gorgeous this year too. Both trees currently have tiny little apples on them.
I was fearful after the harsh winter that my grapevine wouldn’t come back. It took so long to break dormancy that I had almost given up on it. Now it is leafed out and covered in flower clusters that will be grapes by the end of the summer.
James and I attended the big plant sale we go to every year in mid-May. Because we took out the apple tree, I decided we had room for something else. So we got a wild plum. Wild plums are not your standard orchard tree. They are native to Minnesota and used to grow all over the place. They were an important food source for Native Americans and later pioneer colonizers. The wild plum grows as a shrub-tree and spreads to form a kind of colony. They are prolific and the plums are small and tart. My tree is currently about a meter tall and a single stem. I did not plant it where the apple tree was, instead I found a place for it against the fence with nettles and raspberries where it will have room to spread and won’t take up or shade vegetable garden space.
I always like to try something new every year and this year I got three new things: sweet potato, ground cherry, and peanuts. The sweet potato is doing really well. The ground cherry is so far unremarkable. The peanut kept flopping over and I thought it was going to die and then I realized it was trying to root from the area of the stem that flopped to the ground. I thought peanuts were bushes so I was surprised. Other than the new roots it hasn’t done much else. It is still rather small and delicate looking and makes me feel like it is a touch-and-go existence. We’ll see what happens!
I have really enjoyed watching all the various seeds sprout this year. Peas kind of furl up from the ground. Lettuce, radish, beets, carrots, chard, these all start as tiny little things that are so delicate I wonder how they manage to even make it up from the ground. Squash sprouts with big leaves and one day there is nothing and the next day there are a couple hardy looking ribbed leaves.Beans though, I think they are my favorite. Bean seeds are generally large and need to be planted deep so their roots can hold on while the leaves heave themselves up out of the ground. You know when the beans are sprouting because one day there are a whole bunch of little mounds in the dirt where you planted them. The next day the plants are bent over above the ground, shaking off all the dirt. And then on the third day there are suddenly giant bean sprouts everywhere looking stout and hale and hearty.
So the garden is well on its way this year. The honeyberries are getting ripe, the serviceberries and strawberries are not far behind. Oh and the rhubarb! I’ve harvested quite a lot of that already. I think I might be able to get one more harvest this week before it flowers. Oh the jars of beautiful red rhubarb jam that will soon be mine!
I will do my best to be back by next weekend.