Sunday, April 27, 2008

Welcome May 2008

I've heard that April Showers Bring May Flowers, and if that is the case, this will be the most prolific spring in our garden/yard yet. In a way, I had realized that I had not posted anything in a while, but with the beautiful weather we were having, we used our pizazz getting the gardening up and going. It seems the timing was perfect because just as we had finished getting the planting done, here come the showers! Perfect! I would guess we have had a couple of inches of rain over last night and today. Just a slow shower that will do wonders but not collect and flood the lower garden.

It's hard to remember that just almost two months ago we had that very pretty snow. Apparently, we had no loss of blooming things due to that cold snap. We're happy about that, because it appears that we will have a moderate crop of blueberries. Last year, we had maybe a couple of berries.

Don't have any current pictures of the garden, but to date we have a nice little strip of onions almost at the perfect stage for scallions, and a nice strip of broad leaf mustard at the perfect stage for wilted greens (a perfect pair with the scallions). We have planted five kinds of beans: J's favorite, Louisiana Purple Pod (pole); my favorite, rattlesnake pole; Christmas butterbeans; baby lima bunch, and cranberry bunch. So far we seem to have a nice stand. We had prepared for this spring by installing a strip of trellis, utilizing concrete enforcement wire secured to landscape timbers for which J had dug postholes. We are very proud of that accomplishment and don't plan to have to do that again anytime soon. Maybe we can have snapshots of that soon.

With all that behind, we felt the weather was warm enough for the tomatoes to be set out. We had not had much luck last year having enough tomatoes to can to suit my fancy, so I may have just overdone it on that one. We found some nice plants at the local co-op and now probably have 20-something plants. I am trying a row that will be partially shaded in the afternoon from that blistering sun that played havoc last year with my tomatoes. Our selection was mostly Celebrity, Better Boy and Marglobe, with a Bradley and some kind of patio tomato (Better Bush ?) thrown in. I can't promise I won't add a pink variety, even maybe yellow, before it's all over. Since watering had been such a chore last year, we had collected a bunch of gallon plastic jugs which have been installed alongside each tomato plant. That should be somewhat easier to fill with a water hose and maybe a little plant food every so often. If these produce as hoped, we should have enough to fill all the available jars and share with our family and neighbors, which we enjoy doing. Almost forgot the Sweet 100 we planted in a 5-gallon bucket with a hole cut in the bottom, through which the tomato was planted upside-down . We were dubious about that, but that little rascal seems to be flourishing! BTW, 5 gallons of dirt is heavy. We suspended that from an old frame that used to support our grandchildren's swing. I think that would be too heavy for a shepherd's hook. Saw that planting hint on TV and then on the 'net.

Something else that has kept us busy in preparing the garden was incorporating cotton burr compost with the leaf compost we had spread last fall, which has been a godsend keeping down weeds and grass. We have done a version of trenching alongside the new trellis wire by digging a 12" wide x 12" deep trench and backfilling with garden soil, cotton burr compost and hummus from the stash collected from last fall. That was also used in preparing for the tomatoes. We plan to add some lime to help tone down the acidity a bit, especially around the beans.

I had collected several large half-whiskey-barrel planters last year at a closeout at Kroger. Those had been earmarked for transplanting the hosta which has really needed to be divided and re-set. That had turned into a pretty heavy job, lifting those plants which had begun to really respond to the warm spring temps. But I am almost there, using garden soil, leaf compost and the wonderful cotton burr compost. We hope to really see results of that this year, and again, maybe that won't have to be repeated anytime soon. Those planters are a wonderful size, and I plan to watch for the closeout again this summer at Kroger and get several more to use in years to come for patio tomatoes, etc., when we might not be so ambitious digging in the garden.

Oh, BTW, speaking of etc., we did plant bell peppers, jalapeno, cayenne, and egg plant. Apparently, our local source of egg plant didn't materialize, they say because of the cold weather; however, we were able to locate them at Tupelo. We have also planted our summer squash and zucchini. I just know I will be reminded of other things we want to do, but this should more than keep us busy for a while. I almost forgot the okra! How could I ever forget the okra! We have not included corn or field peas, which was a biggie in the past, because J doesn't tolerate those because of his diabetes. But we may add a few hills of potatoes this week because he found out he can tolerate the little new potatoes that haven't become too starchy. They are delicious, anyway.

Well, this has whiled away the afternoon. Still raining! Bet the grass will be "making hay," but that's another story for another day.