Saturday, April 3, 2010

Farm and Garden Weekly - week of March 28

This week I ordered seeds and plants for the vegetable garden. If you enjoy reading gardening literature, you'll know that most every piece of writing talks about seed catalogues; the joy of seeing them come in the mail in winter, the fun of going through them all and choosing your seeds or plants. Well, not me. I've been thinking about this a lot. Even when we first started gardening in 1973, and we'd pore over catalogues and make garden design graphs, it just felt like this was what we were 'supposed' to do. And all it did was give me anxiety. Too many choices, too much planning, too little fun. As the years have gone on, we've given up the plans. I don't look through a zillion catalogues anymore. I decide which companies I'm going to buy from and go online and order. And with our new raised beds the whole process is even simpler. We have only eight. One is for garlic which we plant in the fall. It is not a permanent bed - we change it each year. So that leaves seven beds to plant in. Last year we had quite a few flowers interspersed and while they were lovely, they did cut down on the food component. We have plenty of other places to grow flowers so this year those raised beds are just for vegetables.

Sadly, I've given up growing peas. It is a lot of work and takes up a whole bed for maybe four meals a year. I dearly love those four meals, but the practical side of me says, let's try buying them at the Farmers' Market and use that space more efficiently.

We've also given up our seed-starting venture. Again, too much work. The plants were never big enough when it was time to put them into the garden. I'd rather spend a bit more money and buy plants. I ordered onion sets and leek plants from Johnny's. I also get my summer squash/zucchini from there because this is the only place I can find Zephyr squash, my very favorite. I got Renegade spinach from there, along with Skyphos butterhead lettuce, and another I of course had to buy, Nancy's butterhead lettuce. They will send my Music garlic in the fall.

In addition to Johnny's, I bought three packets of seeds from Renee's Garden: French Gold yellow beans, Sunshine orange and yellow carrots, and Merveille De Quatre Saisons lettuce, an old favorite of ours.

My scheme for the beds is:
spinach and carrots
onion sets
leek plants
Zephyr squash
yellow beans
lettuce (in the chive bed)

I'm planning to buy some local tomato plants for another bed, and may put basil and parsley with it. The eighth bed is the aforementioned garlic.

The garlic which we planted in October is up

And the perennial chives have grown so much we'll be having them on potato loaf for supper tonight.

I've begun raking flower gardens in this warm, sunny spring weather, and will hoe up any weeds in the raised beds soon. We'll put in some rotted manure, and we're on our way!

The 'constant song sparrow' is back. I saw a phoebe flying into one of the nesting boxes under the eaves of the barn this morning. We've taken down the bird feeders since the local bears have come out of their winter homes. I posted about the situation two years ago. Last year when we came back after a day away, the bears had visited again, so this year we took them down before the bears showed up.

Lastly, we've heard the wood frogs in a couple areas where water collects on the farm. These are called vernal pools. They aren't really ponds because they dry up in summer, but they offer water for frogs in the spring. This is what the frogs sound like. And here is the little fellow.

Copyright © 2010 Boston West Photographic Society


  1. Lovely post.
    this warm, sunny spring weather

    We could do with some of that over here!

  2. It's quite early for us but I'll take it!

  3. I don't dare have raised beds or a regular veggie garden, as our cats or those stray cats on our street would use them as their litter box!!! How I envy you your fresh vegetables.

  4. I can't express enough how much I enjoyed this post. Gardening used to be my favorite activity this time of year. Now that we have sold our house and are traveling, it's the one thing I miss most. I'll use your posts to remind me of that wonderful time in my life. Now we buy from the farmer's markets but it's not the same as the smell of the soil.

    I agree with you about peas. Lots of work for such a small output. I was one of those people who loved to pour over the catalogs and plan my garden. Burpee used to be my favorite catalog. I always ordered too much.

    I'm looking forward to watching your garden grow - at least in words and pictures.

  5. Yes, we could do with a bit more sun and higher temperatures here, too! My parents have been to their allotment almost every day, there is plenty to do there, and they told me that there are already many toads about. Their golden eyes gleam in the car headlights, and they are always very careful about not accidentally killing any of them.

  6. I was really inspired by your raised bed post from last year...I think this is what I'm going to do this year!!

  7. Oh! Thank goodness our chives are looking good too! And thanks for mentioning your Potato Loaf. I just looked up the recipe on your sidebar and that should be wonderful with fresh chives.
    Thanks again, Kay Guest

  8. Your photos are always lovely and your adventures the entryway into spring! Our tulips just opened this week - I'd almost forgotten what color looks like in our garden.

    Temp has hit the mid-60's today. Spring with a hint of summer.

    This is the time of year I wait for...

    - Jeff

  9. I look forward to updates on your veggies! I'm hoping to at least gettin a little herb garden going this year.

    Potato loaf sounded so good to me I searched your archives and sure enough there was the recipe from Jan. of last year. Can't wait to make it!

  10. I enjoyed reading your gardening narrative. I am no gardner for sure, but I like hearing you talk about it. When I was a kid, we had okra, tomatoes, carrots, squash, and onions in the backyard. My grandfather grew lots more things. I couldn't understand when I was 4 or so how my mother always knew when I had been eating the chives. :-)

  11. It seems your Farm is waking up from its long winter nap! I gave up Nan on growing things from seed in the house too-alot of work! Enjoy!

  12. After a busy day at work, your header is a stunning picture to view and your blog post goes well with my tea!
    It is dry and dusty here, but there is a storm brewing...
    Enjoy this weekend!

  13. Hello Dear Nan!

    I love all your post, and the cornbread in the previous look delicious!!

    Lovely post indeed.



  14. I love your new plan for simplicity! I'm going to carry it a step further and not plant a garden (although I love the idea of your raised beds). I'm too busy with my job and home and really don't want to spend the rest of my free time stressing about a vegetable garden. Instead, we'll visit our local farmer's markets and help support their efforts.

    It's sunny and warmish today. 65, I think. I'd love to be outside, but I'm hunkered under a blanket with my book and cup of tea.

  15. Nan dear,

    I CAN'T believe you are already hearing the frogs! Amazing to me since it is even cold here.

    Smart way to plan your raised bed plantings. Things are so complicated nowadays.

    Johnny's Seeds rocks. Have you tried Baker Creek Heirlooms, of course Seed Savers, and Seeds of Change.

    I don't get stressed when I read the catalogues, I get inspired, but realize I can't do it all.

    Joys to you and yours,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  16. Isn't it amazing how a little warm weather really brings the garden alive? Love hearing those frogs singing. It is like the earth awakens with joy in its voice.

  17. Ah, but the very names of all those seed varieties are full of magic and promise. I always liked the seed catalog stage because it was the part of the season where I was always a (potentially) successful gardener--the time before reality set in, the tomato hornworms showed up the one weekend we were away, the rain stopped me from weeding, and I was shown up for the poor gardener I always turned out to be.

    But the next year, there was always great hope and a package of French Gold Yellow Bean seeds!

  18. Yay, wood frogs! So cute!

    This sunny weather we've been having here in S. Ontario is playing havoc with my gardening sense of time. I really feel like there should at least be blooming tulips, but the crocuses are just finishing themselves (and fast, this year).

    I love this time of year, though. There's so much exciting starting to happen. The plants are growing, the birds are back, the butterflies are coming...

  19. Gigi, you must have tremendous fruits and vegetables available at local Farmers' Markets!

    Margot, thank you for your words about your gardening life. Farmers' Markets are such wonderful places. I feel like I'm in heaven as I walk along.

    Librarian, I love toads but don't see them very often. Do your parents travel far to their allotment? How big is it?

    Staci, I'll sure be interested in your reports about your raised beds. We couldn't be happier.

    Kay and Alison, did you try clicking the words 'potato loaf' in the post itself? It should open right up to the page. Please let me know if this doesn't work. It is a favorite dish around here, and last night's was just delicious.

    Jeff, the tulips were a gift from Tom's father. And our temps were mid-80s yesterday! Yes, you read that number right. :<) Amazing.

    Kay, that's so cute about the chives. Have you ever had a vegetable garden? We tried okra years ago but it didn't do so well. I haven't tasted it in years. I should buy some and see if I still like it.

    Sherri, thanks for telling me. I'm much happier not doing that particular work, though some dearly love starting seeds.

    Joanne, thank you so much! You're always so kind.

    Beverly, how nice to see you! I hope you get a chance to try the cornbread. More buttermilk recipes on the way. :<)

    Les, simple yet most fulfilling. I so love stepping out the kitchen door and gathering supper. :<) As I told Jeff above, our temps were mid-80s on Saturday! Supposed to be a bit cooler today but sunny, sunny. Hope you feel better soon.

    Sharon, I have ordered from Seeds of Change before. It seems every year I switch around a bit among my favorite companies. Do you know about Pinetree Seeds in Maine?

    Erin, thanks!

    Lisa, beautifully said!

    Clair, that hopefulness of gardeners is so amazing, so strong! Sometimes the weather and bugs overcome any gardener. I love the names too.

    Kiirstin, they are cute! And I love the sound. They sing all day. You are so right about this time of year. You turn around and there's something new happening. A glorious season.

  20. Nan, you were asking how big my parents' allotment is and whether they travel far to get there. Far it is not, maybe half an hour by car, but regarding the size - I have no idea, sorry, I am not a "numbers" person and can't tell you square meters or acres or any other kind of dimension :-)
    It is big enough not only to grow a wide variety of fruit and vegetables on, but also to host barbecues and birthday parties (my mum's birthday is in August). There is a wooden hut where my dad sometimes spends the night in when he wants to get some big job done and start early, and they have a tiny pond with fish in it.
    It is lovely, and certainly does need work, but not too much - they have still plenty of time to simply enjoy it!

  21. I've been trying to recall a seed company fromwhich I used to order--couldn't get farther in muddled-after-moving state of mind than a name beginning with "R". I recognized Renee's Seeds immediately on reading your post--perhaps I received that catalog years ago as "Shepherd's Seeds"[?]

  22. Librarian, thanks so much for coming back to tell me. It sounds wonderful, and much bigger than I thought allotments were. Just like a big, big yard only not behind the house. :<) Thanks again. I loved reading about it.

    Morning's Minion, yes! A little info follows- scroll down a bit on the page:

    and interesting piece here:

  23. I just had to remark that I am reading about vernal ponds right now in David Carroll's The Swampwalker's Journal. I hadn't heard of them before so to read it there and then read about them hear in your blog (he talks about wood frogs too) was just cool.

  24. Christy, isn't that just wonderful!


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