Well, I missed a blog post Sunday in my post a day challenge. Granted, it’s a self imposed challenge, but still…So, I’ll send up a few more prayers to the goddess of gardening and add thirty minutes to my weeding as penance. Weeding is in fact what I had been doing instead of writing or cooking over the weekend. The back beds that we added last year need to be prepped for spring planting. The rain, timed perfectly with the last few weekends (ha!) and the warm weather of the past few weeks has been a blessing to the entire garden, but especially the weeds sneaking into the beds. In hindsight, a cover crop or mulching in the fall would have been a good idea, but normally keeping weeds under control is not a huge issue. I blame it on that chicken poop compost we got from the neighbors last year (good stuff). Plants just love that poo. 🙂
Last year many of the decisions about what to plant in the garden were made for me. I “inherited” a number of tomato, pepper, eggplant, tomatillo and squash plants from my neighbors when they relocated all the dirt and compost from the vegetable garden beds as part of selling their house (we ended up with the dirt too). This year, I have a better idea of what did well and what did not do as well, as well as what we were more likely to eat, can, or freeze and what ended up in the compost.
The harsh winter, and possibly extremely rainy season last year, decimated a number of perennial herbs I planted or transplanted to the back garden like my thyme and lemongrass. The celery plant didn’t survive the transplanting process, but now that I know I can grow it, I’ll be picking up some seeds. This year marks my third try at growing rhubarb in the South. There are some varieties of rhubarb that can be grown in warm climates, but after some reading it seems that the perennial plant dies easily when temps are over 90 for extended periods of time. Some gardeners recommend planting seeds each fall, overwintering, and harvesting in the early part of spring and summer – not attempting to grow them as a perennial.
I picked up a few new flowers and an herb at the local farmer’s market including clary sage and a “chocolate” daisy. This is also close to the time that I pick up a few annual herb starter plants like dill, parsley, and basil so I have some for early use in recipes as well as planting herb seeds for later harvest. Some year I might actually get my own plants started from seed indoors. Since the weather is expected to drop close to freezing overnight for a few days this week, I will hold off on putting anything in the ground until next weekend.
Since this is only year two for the back garden, we are still in experiment mode. Last year was very buggy, so this year will be more focused on preventative and aggressive organic treatments for insects on and around the vegetable plants. Several varieties of vegetables did not do well last year which means trying out new varieties and moving placement of plants while continuing research on strategies for our Mid-Atlantic climate. For example, I love heirloom varieties, but with limits on time and space, disease resistant varieties may be a better choice for producing food we can actually eat.