Given our all-over-the-place-weather (we’re supposed to complain about the weather, right?), it seems that spring 2017 is arriving slow and low, and to be honest – I am totally fine with that. We seem to have escaped late frosts so far (although, the thermometer did dip down to near freezing last night!), all in all, it’s a rather typical spring, one perfect for cool weather crops which is what I am going to focus on here. These rather normal or slightly cooler than normal temperatures in the North East mean that asparagus, potatoes, broad beans, sweet peas and lettuce are all enjoying a nice, slow start outdoors – what more can a vegetable grower ask for?
With some time on my hand after being laid off, I can take the proper amount of time to prep soil, plant and plant so many crops which in the past I had to squeeze in on a weekend. I may have over-estimated my free time however, for it’s not as if I haven’t been busy. This week we hosted the folks from Barnhaven Primroses in France and the American Primrose Society which I write about soon for a cocktail party one night and then a banquet sit down dinner on Saturday night, and then there are the garden chores. A friend of mine said something to me last week which resonated -“have you reached that point where you say to yourself – How did I ever find time for work?”. Yeah, I’ve reached that point.
|A few rows of French Fingerlings should be enough for a bushel of waxy, red-skinned potatoes which can be harvested in early autumn. The soil looks cold, but warms up quickly in the spring sunshine. Since the seed potatoes are sprouting already, I cannot wait any longer to get them into the ground. Trenches are dug 10 inches deep, filled with compost and potatoes are covered with 3 inches of soil – the rest will be hoed up in hills as the shoots emerge and grow.|
|I’ve planted four long rows of English peas – peas for eating (yes bro, I do grow some peas for eating). This varieties are shorter growing, but shelling peas can grow quite tall if one plants older varieties. I have avoided planting snap peas however and studies have shown that most commercial strains have lost vigor and quality, so I am waiting for sugar snap and ‘sugar Ann to stabilize again – something I know Johnny’s Selected Seeds is working on/ The perfect excuse to revisit shelling peas, but one must grow long rows to be able to get enough to eat and freeze.|
|I have a few places where I grow, but I also like raised beds (no bending over!). These are handy for crops that provide fast harvests for the kitchen or crops sensitive to flea beetles, root larvae and ground insects – so radishes remain clean without insecticide, and mesclun and arugula can’t get peed on by the dogs. Really, it’s a thing! These elevated beds are available from Gardener’s Supply Company, and I really love them (this isn’t a paid post, either but I have offered to write about them in the past, as you might know.). They are made of cedar and the one on the left has a cover and works well as a cold frame. I find them very useful and well made.|
Cut flower sweet peas will always be on my planting plans, and this year, I am going overboard – raising almost every variety of Spencer Sweet Peas that I could find. These are the ones with long stems which are so fragrant, and old fashioned. I think this is the 30th year I have raised sweet peas. which is scary to think about, but I first…