Got a Garden Plan: Get Organized
April is really flying by. Has it already been two and a half weeks since the Big Easter Egg Hunt—the family fun and great food that went along with it? While I realize that we are just a month into calendar Spring, here in Florida it already seems like Summer a good deal of the time. On these years when Spring is more or less skipped, you don’t get a chance to acclimate to the heat and humidity gradually. This past Saturday, Gaia and I both had to take frequent breaks from our outdoor work. I am not ordinarily much bothered by heat, but I need a chance to get used to it.
Of course, this hot weather coupled with a great deal more rain than we typically get this time of year, is inciting rampant growth. In previous years, I was only getting around to mowing the yard for the first time in late April. This year, I have already mowed four times. It is lovely, but a good deal of work. Aside from mowing the yard, weed-trimming and other routine chores, Gaia and I are attempting to catch up with a number of other outdoor plans. In the Garden House, lots of succulents, transplants and cuttings awaited trimming and re-potting for Spring, and out on the deck and patio as well, where I maintain a fair number of potted flowers, herbs and foliage of different sorts.
I could wish that the “Potting Soil Fairy” would stop by and leave us a huge pile of dirt (along with, of course, the Mulch and Compost Fairies). So many trips to the Garden Center, and so little time. Plus, when going to get more dirt and mulch, I always seem to return home with more plants as well. As all true garden-geeks know, there is really nothing more glorious than a Nursery or Garden Center in Spring. The temptation is more than I can withstand. I never check out of one of these places without at least a plant or two.
So much going on, and of course, we are still thinking about, and beginning to act upon— The Plan! In the two years that we have been living back at the House, this Spring is the first time we have had a bumper crop of anything, and that is due to the small fenced enclosure we installed around one of the raised beds. In the past, I have been fooled more than once by the Deer’s seeming disinterest in my vegetable patch, only to come outside one morning and find whole sections of plants stripped bare. I have used Deer Spray, spread slivers of Irish Spring Soap about, saved my eggshells and hair cuttings to strew about, and on and on…
Fencing is the only option that has worked. To that end, we have ordered and received two rolls of 7′ x 100′ Deer Block Netting. Using the relatively inexpensive and lightweight material makes it possible for Gaia and I to install the fence ourselves, and keeps the size of our garden flexible, as we can easily add or subtract from the total area. It has to be tall enough also to discourage our furry marauders from trying to leap over it. Larry is building us a permanent gate that we will place in the front to be both functional and we think, aesthetically pleasing. In preparation for the fencing, we have worked toward getting out the wild grapevine that had crept into the area, and getting the back part of the garden ready to till before the fence is in.
Meanwhile, my cup runneth over with kale. This is by far the most extravagant patch of this current darling in the world of greens, that I have ever grown. I have harvested many pounds over the past two months. We have explored a number of new kale recipes. I have a bunch of them on my Pinterest Veggies board. My hands down favorite new recipe is the Sweet Potato, Kale and Sausage Bake with White Cheese Sauce on Pinch of Yum Blog. It is soooo good! Also, I have given kale away to kids, moms, sisters and anyone else I know. I have a note here on my desk to remind me to freeze some while it is still so plentiful.
I also planted other greens last fall— spinach, which did nothing, pak choi which was good but what I didn’t use promptly bolted very quickly this spring, and swiss chard (my Favorite) which is finally growing better after a slow start, but seems a magnet for insect pests. I am spraying with an organic pesticide using bacillus thuringiensis as caterpillars are my major problem. I am looking into more long-term controls also. My other crop of note at the moment are my Texas Legend Sweet Onions. When I decided I wanted to plant onions, I couldn’t find any sets or plants in the area, so I looked online. I ordered these as plants from Dixondale Farms, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Their service was great. I was not certain of best planting time when I was ordering last fall. They contacted me and recomended the best date for my area, and shipped them to me in early January in great shape. Gaia and I planted them just a couple of days after they arrived. I will admit that I was beginning to worry— they were growing wonderfully, but I saw no bulbs forming. Well, I just am not patient enough. They are currently forming large bulbs. I could already be using them, but I am waiting to use up the last bag I bought at the grocery store. I am soon going to have more onions than I know what to do with.
This is the Garden Update for now. I will be back soon. Hopefully, the fence will be up, and the next installment will provide a more inclusive list of outdoor jobs to be crossed off as we do them.
Happy Earth Day!