April and May are the busiest months in the garden for me, marking the end of the risk of frost and the shift to reliably warmer temperatures. I’ve spent most of my recent spare time with a hoe, a gardening knife, and paper bags for containing all the weeds to send to the city composting facility, so I get to play catch up on blogging this weekend while a major storm system rains out any outdoor plans I may have had. These photos are from the first day of May and mark the beginning of the summer garden.
A few things are left over from the fall, including the red giant mustard. If you like leaf mustards, this one is delicious, practically care free, and it looks spectacular. I’m pretty sure this one is bolting, we’ve had several days that were unusually hot, so it will probably be compost unless I get myself together enough to make a meal plan before it flowers. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t.)
Speaking of compost, here’s a peek inside the bin, and a visual demonstration of why the weeds get sent out to the city: my compost simply doesn’t get hot enough to kill seeds. I could work on that, but I probably won’t. I’m not sure what kind of squash that is, but I’ve got enough sprouting from seeds that I probably won’t save it. I’m particularly fond of the little cluster of tomato plants where a fruit decomposed. Some of the other small seedlings are various basils and shiso.
The kale seedlings are planted, and they should green up pretty quickly with the compost I put in the bed. That’s a leek from last fall and a volunteer dill plant in there with them. The leaves on the side are a large, volunteer, native Rudbeckia. I like having a few flowers in the vegetable area both for color and to help attract pollinators. Black-eyed Susans also bring in the little birds who help with pest control.
The ruby chard is planted a bed down from the kale, and the dill is coming up here as well. The dill will flower and die when the weather heats up, so I will leave it both for using and for attracting swallowtail caterpillars. My worst weeds are Chenopodium album, which is both nutritious and tasty, but it has a waxy quality I don’t care for, and it will go to seed and take over before you realize what’s happening. I’ll get these with the hoe as the chard grows.
This bed is planted with all the potatoes that sprouted to the point I didn’t want to use them, and another just went in where that soil is disturbed. I will hill these up with more compost and mulch as they grow. More of the white Chenopodium is in here along with a pretty native Hydrocotle growing between the bricks.
Here’s a look inside the cold frame. The squash plants are starting to perk up, and the tomatoes are growing nicely, as are the weeds, but I didn’t get as many leeks as I expected, so I may plant some more seeds. That sprout in the bottom right corner with the Sideshow Bob hair is an almond seedling I rescued from the compost bin. I doubt I can do much with it other than put it in a pot and admire it, but I find myself incapable of discarding an almond tree. It’s still chilly for the peppers and eggplant, so they are quite small, but they will catch up as the weather warms. I’ve learned the hard way that waiting for warmer nights is better than putting the most tender plants out early. As evidence, that potted basil I picked up at the market has burns on the uppermost leaves where they touched the lid of the cold frame on a night that got below 40 degrees. Everything can wait safely in here for a while.
A sure sign of spring. The robin family follows me around the garden on worm patrol as I till things up. It looks like they have at least one more mouth to feed, which makes me really happy. I hope you have been able to get outside a bit and your garden is beginning to flourish this spring as well.