Thursday, May 04, 2017

Kicking off the garden 2017

Continuing in the It Must Be Spring vein...

The ospreys and oystercatchers on Saturday felt like Spring. 

What else feels like Spring? A trip to Dragonetti's! Oooh yeah! 

Originally I'd planned to do some Spring cleaning on Sunday, which was going to be on the gray and drizzly side, but then my friend John H. posted a picture of some corn seedlings (he has a whole garden set up on his roof deck) and I looked at that, looked at the forecast, saw good rain during the week, and decided the cleaning could wait.    

I'm so glad Dragonetti's is just on the other side of the Paerdegat Basin; in other years when I'm ready to do my garden in the Spring, I've enlisted the help of someone with a car (TQ is generally happy to help me out, and if he can't I'll send out a message on the gardener list) because I like to replenish my soil each year, since I grow quite a bit in my little 4x6 plot, but since this year's decision to plant was pretty spur-of-the-moment, I got out my luggage cart and headed for Canarsie with my fingers crossed that this would actually work. It was a bit of a schlep rolling these 2 big bags of dirt the mile to the club while also carrying a tote bag with some plants, but the city's done a fair amount of work on Paerdegat Avenue so the going was pretty smooth and I made it to the club without the cart falling to pieces - I had brought my giant duffle bag in case that happened but toting 'em that way would've sucked. How's this for urban gardening, though? 

I'd cleared out the bed the weekend before. In the past I'd always had my "putting the bed to bed" day in the Fall, when I would pull everything out except the onions, but a friend of mine whose opinions I really respect had sent me an article last Fall that talked about how leaving things in place was beneficial to birds and insects. What they said made sense, so I did. Extra bonus - I picked the season's first bag of chard on Sunday! Pulled out the roots, I did experiment with letting chard overwinter one year, but it turns out that it goes to seed pretty fast in the 2nd year (doesn't do that in the first year at all) and once it does, it seems like it attracts a ton of aphids, but it was nice having first pickings already in April.

Last week, in addition to pulling out the dead plants from last year, I unburied the bed from the ajuga plants that for some reason had covered the entire garden area. I learned what it was from Mary, one of the garden committee co-chairs; I had initially called it "purple crap" and "weeds" in quick succession as I stared at the lush growth in my bed; she corrected me and told me it's actually a desirable native plant. It is actually attractive and if you google it you'll see it's a very popular ground cover, but I defended myself with the old "A weed is a plant in the wrong place" and pointed out that it had eaten my entire garden. We don't know why it took over so completely although it was a warm, wet winter so maybe it was just perfect ajuga weather. Didn't take me that long to reclaim my bed from it, at least. I also thought it was interesting that there was no lambs'-quarters, which is technically a weed but quite tasty if lightly steamed or sauteed and frequently my first garden-grown greens in prior years. Not this year, though. Here was the bed the day of the Season Opener:

Here it was on Sunday after I'd weeded again and added the new soil. 

Daffodils all done. I was very happy to see that my bucket with rosemary and thyme made it through the winter. I used to have a rosemary bush, but Hurricane Sandy killed it, I've replanted pretty much every year since then but none of the new plants before this one survived the winter. I was also very happy to find that the lavender sprig I'd planted as an afterthought last year was doing well, it hadn't really done anything last year and it was so badly tangled in with the ajuga that I wasn't sure whether it was going to survive the weeding, but I had been as careful as I could and after a week of having some breathing space, it's actually looking like it might grow this year. It's the little green thing just to the side of the done daffodils - doesn't look like much but it's bigger than it had been, so I'm hopeful!  

All planted and cat-discouraging sticks laid out. 

I got one tomato (I'll do three but Dragonetti's didn't have much of a selection and the ones they had all came in sets of six where I'm after three different single plants, Union Square Greenmarket should be able to fix me up there), two peppers, and basil seedlings, plus pole bean, chard, and beet seeds - all in the ground now and hopefully getting enough rain for a good start this week! I missed my cukes last year but in the 2 or 3 years before there was some kind of cucumber disease, possibly downy mildew, that took out both plantings the same way - the plants would get off to a beautiful start, I would pick the first few cukes, and then spots would start to appear on the leaves and then within a couple of weeks it would all be over. Boy, if there's one thing growing vegetables for fun has made me appreciate, it's that I don't have to grow vegetables to live. Green beans went well as a replacement last year, last year I got bush beans by accident, this year I got pole beans - when you're doing a vegetable garden in a limited space, going vertical helps.  

A couple more flowers at the club - 

And here's Pat from the boatbuilding group testing the loadbearing capacity of the newly built boat hoist. Sebago's handsome new safety boat is nearing completion in the shed, and this will be used to assist in loading Canarsienne onto her trailer soon. In the meantime it apparently makes a great place to put your hammock. Happy Spring! 


Alana said...

What a saga. I'm tempted to ask "is it worth it" but I already know the answer. This will be a must read for my spouse.

bonnie said...

Thanks! This was definitely a little beyond my usual contortions to maintain a garden halfway across the borough. I was just really, really, really glad the cart didn't break down. And then I didn't even go into the part where after I'd gotten the new soil mixed in and was all ready to plant, I discovered that the hose out to the garden area hasn't been installed for the season yet, si I had to tote water, too. If I'd known that part I might have stuck with housecleaning but by the time I realized, I was pretty determined to get it done.

Never has my "urban gardening" label felt more appropriate!