The Agony & The Ecstacy

15 Apr

It’s that time of year again. Gardening time.

I’ve got all sorts of things coming up in the garden which means, during the week, I’m glued to wunderground.  Did it frost last night?  Will it frost tomorrow?  Why has it only rained a tenth of an inch this week?  Gardening from afar is stressful (I’m kind of obsessed with the idea of this PlantCam, at least it would help me feel like a little less of an absentee gardener).

We have a few big projects going on this year.  Two weekends ago I dug-out the compost pile. I think it dates back to both of the two previous owners of our house.  I found lots of unusual things in there: the film of green grass that keeps sushi separate from wasabi, pencils (yes, plural), chicken bones and a ceramic snail.  I sifted it once on a wide grid.  The pile is, no lie, the size of a Smart Fourtwo, and now I’m working on sifting it again through a finer sieve.  This is hard work, but it is good work, and once we’re done with projects two and three, all that shaking will have really paid off.

Project two is creating what we’re calling the Plumpkin Patch on one of the lumps our land is dotted with.  We covered the area with a tarp over the winter which not only killed the grass but also served as a nice warm spot for our mice to escape the snow.  We’re hoping that by giving the squash some room to run wild that we’ll actually get some squash this year (winter squash I mean, there was no shortage of summer squash last year!).

And finally, project three is extending the beds that we cut out of the lawn last year.  I’m planning to fill the borders with herbs and flowers and berries.  It will be a long time before these beds are ready though.  They’ll need sifting, eventually, but first I have to break up the dirt.  This task brings out my inner Wall-E.  Every sixth whack of the cultivator turns up something shiny that I add to an ever growing pile of shards of pottery and bits of old bottles perched on the top of an old brick.  But all this detritus has me worried that I’ve hit an old garbage pit and that there might be lead or other metals in the soil. Gotta make a trip to the Cooperative Extension to get that soil tested, stat!

But, projects aside, what I’m really excited (and worried) for are the little tiny seedlings poking their heads out of the dirt and taking a look around.  There’s five kinds of peas (Coral Shell, Sugan Ann (obviously), Purple Podded, Blue Podded and Golden Sweet), three kinds of radishes (French Breakfast, Munchener Bier and Zlata), three kinds of chard (Oriole (thanks Christina!), Glatter Silber and Bright Lights), Rapa Turnips, Egittto and Early Tall-Top Beets, Rainbow Lacinato Kale (I am so excited for these), tons of lettuces, some chicories, radicchios and the real early star of the garden, something called Wrinkled Crinkled Crumpled Cress.

So, is anything coming up in your garden?  Is there anything you’re really looking forward to planting?  I can’t wait to see how my beloved Hinklehatz peppers do this year. We’re almost out of the preserved ones from last year.  Let us know what has your heart aflutter in the comments.


10 Responses to “The Agony & The Ecstacy”

  1. Adrienne April 15, 2010 at 8:03 am #

    THREE kinds of radishes?! I wish. I’m only growing d’Avignon radishes but they’re coming up gangbusters and I can’t wait to taste one. I planted carrots in with them – I read somewhere that since carrots grow slower, when you pull the radishes out you make room for the developing carrots. The radishes keep the soil nice and light. Last year squirrels ate all my carrots so I’m not sure it’ll work but I tried again.

    We garden in containers on the back patio so I’m limited, but we started seeds for tomatoes (Sun Gold cherries and San Marzanos), eggplant (Striped Fairy – they’re minis) basil, and hot peppers (Padron and Numex Joe E. Parker just because I liked the name). We’ve planted lacinato kale and peas (I forget which kind) outside, plus dill and simpson lettuce. Chives, mint, oregano all came back from last year, along with some strawberries that my mom gives me seedlings of every year. I plan to buy seedlings of tarragon and thyme, as the ones I brought inside died over the winter. I also am getting ready to start 8 ball zucchinis, green beans and cucumbers (pickles, pickles, pickles!) which only need a few weeks indoors before setting out.

    Wow, when I write it all up like that it looks like a lot. Hopefully between my CSA and my potted garden I can can or freeze enough to keep me happy all winter!

  2. Christine April 15, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    So jealous of all your plantings! So far I just have two wee strawberry plants, some regular old romaine and red leaf lettuce, collards, and some herbs planted. I have three very pretty scarlet runner seedlings that are going into containers outside in the front along with lacinato kale seedlings. (I’ve never heard of the rainbow lacinato, but I’m already excited for next years plantings.) Then I have a giant topsy turvy planter with a czech tomato, golden sunray tomato and some more herbs. A couple of more tomato plants and an eventual diamond eggplant out front (it’s the sunniest I can do.) And I plan on getting SeedSavers to send me a ground cherry seedling, because I am very curious.

    Hopefully no one will steal from our front sidewalk area, but we live on a quiet street in Philly (in Grad Hospital, on a no parking block – it’s that narrow.) So I should be okay.

  3. ann April 15, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    Wow Adrienne! That’s a lot of amazing stuff to grow in containers! I’ve never heard of d’Avignon radishes *scurries off to look them up* Oh! That’s just another name for French Breakfast radishes! Cool! I tried that interplanting thing last year with carrots/radishes. I decided I like the radishes best, so I’m giving them room to run. You are going to be one busy lady come late summer! I’m so impressed! And yes, how could you not buy a pepper with a name like that. I feel for a tomato called Paul Robeson which is a Siberian tomato named after a famed, black American opera singer, civil rights advocate and athlete. How can you resist?

    Christine — Stay tuned for the rainbow lacinato kale. I am so excited for them! I’m expecting something dusky, elegant and delicious. Cooooome on spring! Your garden sounds like it’s off to an amazing start too. Some year I should plant scarlet runners just because they really are just *SO* beautiful!!

  4. Julia April 15, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

    I am insanely jealous of the rainbow lacinato kale. Why didn’t I get the memo? You’re the second person to talk about it. Well, your plans all sound amazing. We have french breakfast, arugula, lacinato, red winter kale, asian greens, purple podded and sugar snap. Strawberries are flowering, rhubarb kicking ass, and a few more beds going in. Five yards of soil just delivered. I am itching but this weekend they predict snow! Snow! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

  5. michelle@TNS April 19, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    so jealous of the amount of space you have to plant. well, i guess i could grow more if i lost the flower bed, but i love the flower bed so! right now, that’s all i have growing – garden phlox, daylillies, peonies, euphorbia, yarrow, hollyhocks – but the veggies seedlings will probably go in in the next week or two.

  6. ann April 20, 2010 at 6:55 am #

    Julia — Oh wow! Who else has planted rainbow lacinato? Coool. Did they find it at Fedco too? I can’t believe your strawberries are going! Mine aren’t yet, and it’s the first year for my rhubarb, so must be patient. So glad it didn’t snoooooow!

    Michelle — See? Now I’m jealous! The beds for my flowers are all a wreck, so they’re going to be late again this year, which is good though, because hopefully that means they’ll be in full bloom for the wedding party in September. Whoop!

  7. Jean April 26, 2010 at 11:50 am #

    I’m just getting started on building my new raised beds (only 3×6). Our last frost isn’t for another 3-1/2 weeks or so, and so here I sit. I don’t have anywhere inside to start seedlings; I am at the mercy of our local nursery. But, I am getting excited about getting some dirt under my nails again. Good luck with yours

  8. Terry, at Blue Kitchen April 30, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    I prefer to garden vicariously, Ann, through blogs like yours. We’ll plant a few tomato plants soon and some herbs in pots, but that’s about it. I could see that beautiful blue glass being worked into some concrete somewhere, in a wall or even a little corner of sidewalk or something.

  9. Christina May 2, 2010 at 11:18 pm #

    Hmmm, I am not sure I know what I’m most excited about this year. Maybe it is my peppers. I’ve got 30 plants this year, ranging from very sweet to very hot, some annums, but several baccatums and chinenses too. Mexican peppers, Hungarian peppers, Brazilian peppers, Venezuelan peppers, and from all sorts of other places too. I think this may be the year I really explore peppers.

    Your starts sound wonderful. I haven’t grown the rainbow lacinato, but I sure do love the regular lacinato. So good. I can’t wait to read how your garden grows this year (in between all the other fascinating stuff you’re doing). Never a dull moment in Ann-land.

  10. ann May 5, 2010 at 7:14 am #

    Jean — Thanks! Someday I will actually build myself some permanent raised beds. Good luck with the seedlings. I’m struggling to start my own this year, so I might have to buy them as well.

    Terry — TERRY!! So nice to see you around!! I love the idea for the blue glass. Maybe I’ll make a planter.

    Christina — I hope my Hinklehatz do well this year so I can send you some seeds. They are the best pepper ever (in my humble opinion). And yeah, dull moments, there’s been a dearth of them lately :-) Hopefully that’s my birthday present, a few lulls!

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