Sunday, March 29, 2009

Starting the Garden

Well, I have a flat of lettuces, a bunch of onion plants, some cabbages and broccoli, and a gazillion pea seeds waiting (not-so) patiently to get in the ground, and it's been raining and threatening snow. In late March. Again.

So I took this relatively warm (only seven degrees below normal), sunny day to loosen up the soil at least where the onions and peas will go, even though we had almost half an inch of rain yesterday. I did it at the end of the day and only did the pea and onion area because that was all my back could take those were the driest areas. The lettuce area was really soggy, and if it's dry tomorrow, I might try to loosen it up a bit.

I don't own a rototiller. It seems pointless for 400 sq feet. I just use a garden fork, dig in to the hilt, and lift up the soil, letting it fall back into place and breaking up the large clods. I try not to turn it over at all, and I definitely have fewer weeds this year as a result. Tomorrow, if the rain holds off, I'll put an inch or so of compost and some fertilizer on top and mix it into the top six inches of soil, then rake it out and get the peas and onions in.

The thing is, I have so much to get into the ground, I'm going to need to get another 80 square feet prepared by midweek, and we're supposed to get more rain. The weekend looks like it'll be fairly dry, so I guess everything will be another 3-4days late.

People ask me if I've "gotten my garden in." This is a strange concept to me. My garden is never "out". I generally start in March and am constantly planting until October, when the overwintering garlic goes in.

This has several advantages. First, I'm not trying to get all four beds going at once. I'm only trying to get one and a half in now. Secondly, I harvest short-cycle plants like lettuce and radish all summer. Third, in Western Washington, if you waited to put your peas in at the same time as your squash and tomatoes, they'd wither in the heat, if not succomb to pea enation virus. And lastly, I have the opportunity to plant fall crops in the beds that the spring veggies are finished with, without needing extra space.

Here's hoping for warmer, drier weather....

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