Spring Garden Time!

Last fall I got to the point where I was sick of my garden because of tomatoes.

See, I love making pizza sauce with fresh tomatoes. But last year I ended up planting way more tomato plants than I actually needed, and they all decided to send out a bumper crop in September–when I had a LOT of events happening. So I basically spent the month prepping for and being at events, and in between picking, prepping and canning pizza sauce. By the end of it, I didn’t want to see another tomato for a very long time, and I avoided the garden all winter.

blueberriesBut spring has a way of bringing me around. One of the beautiful things about Portland is that our growing season is super-long. Even if you don’t do winter gardening, you can still start your spring planting in early to mid March, depending on what you plant. I ended up having to delay another month because March was just absolutely crazy-busy, and I simply didn’t have time to attend to the plot properly.

Of course, “attending to” was a lot more complicated than just throwing some seeds in the ground. Thanks to fall fertilization, winter rains, and no one wanting to go out in the cold weather, the weeds took over. My plot wasn’t so bad, but all community garden members are required to keep the paths around our plots weeded. I have a 10′ x 20′ plot with 40′ of path around it, and it had gotten pretty gnarly. So over the past few weeks the order of operations has been:

–Say hello to the two year old parsnips in the middle of the plot, and the kale I left to flower for the bees
–Tame the compost bin and take out the usable compost
–Spread the compost, along with some bone meal and minerals, on the soil and turn it under
–Weed the plot
–Get the first round of seeds in the plot
–Weed the paths and add new mulch (this took about five hours in and of itself)
–Put in another round of seeds
–Glare menacingly at any new weeds in the hopes that will slow their growth some
–Plant the raspberry bush I got as a thank you gift for renewing my Rewild Portland membership at their annual fundraiser

Here's where you can see my weeding progress on the paths. The upper part is after my work; the lower part isn't even the worst I had to deal with (there were sections where a neighbor's weeds had spilled out and grown a foot high).

Here’s where you can see my weeding progress on the paths. The upper part is after my work; the lower part isn’t even the worst I had to deal with (there were sections where a neighbor’s weeds had spilled out and grown a foot high).

I also spent some time communing with the berries. When I got this plot summer before last, it was completely covered in waist-high weeds and I had to remove them all myself. Most of what was in there was largely inedible, but I kept some calendula, and I found one runty little blueberry bush. So I bought it a couple of friends. These days they’re all still pretty small; I really should be fertilizing them more and testing the pH in their soil. But they still have teeny little berries. My strawberries had to be trimmed back some as they had escaped the patch I gave them; I think they’ll forgive me, though.

This year instead of going crazy over tomatoes, I decided squash would be the thing to do. It stores nicely and doesn’t need canning, and my household LOVES the stuff. I’ve been trying to cook more meatless meals, especially during summer and fall when the garden is producing nicely, and since the spaghetti squash I planted last year did pretty well and organic seeds were cheap, I’m hoping for a good crop this year. So I have several varieties planted and I’ll do another round in a couple of weeks to stagger things a bit and to see which seeds already planted actually germinate.

There’s also the usual roster of roots and leaves–beets, turnips, kale, spinach, and lettuce (not iceberg, mind you), and I cut up some old potatoes with sprouted eyes and got them in the ground. There will, of course, be peas in the pod, and I will allow myself to buy a few tomatoes once it warms up a bit more. In two months I expect everything to be green and flourishing, but for now it looks about like this:

garden

It has been nice to rekindle my relationship with the garden again. I forgave it for throwing all the tomatoes at me at once, and I think I’ve been forgiven for letting the weeds get so tangled. So I’m looking forward to a nice year of cultivation and care, and long days in the sun in my garden plot.

5 Comments.
  1. For the long term, its easiest to have deep separators for the fast growing root shooting varieties, like brambles. I grew up with blueberry picking every mid summer. But since moving to a limestone island, I can’t pick any and have missed them since. Once I have a more permanent residence I plan on having a hugelkultur that is intentionally acidic for blueberries & their acidic soil loving comrades. In your case I’d bury some cedar and other acidic woody debris (even if its a small bundle of branches) and even mulching a bit with it mixed with sandy soil because blueberries love good drainage. Unless of course your variety is unlike the more common ones.

    I wish you all the best in your garden this year! ^_^

    • Thank you for the tips 🙂 And may your own garden flourish as well.

      • Thank you. I’ve just started on the first steps today and am doing something a little different this year – since there are a lot of deer around, and I suspect some people who think messing with the woven fencing is fun, I’ve beefed up my barriers by incorporating the dead standing thistles from last year that I had grown as a living barrier. Now their interwoven into the fence – HA! Take that those who have and would be vandals and garden thieves! 😀

        • Forgive the typo :s
          *I meant* “Now they’re” instead of “their”
          I’ve been spoiled by editing options in other comment board formats!

        • What a great idea! Good luck in keeping the fence mended.

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