Commencement

We’re off to a good start, I think. My (admittedly unscientific)  planting schedule calls for our spring vegetables to be planted “March 1–as soon thereafter as the ground can be worked.” Some years that qualifier carries us all the way into April. But yesterday conditions were perfect. On another record-high day I shaped up the beds and planted. Beets, English peas, arugula, Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, radishes, turnips, spinach and bok choy–all direct-seeded.

The transplants aren’t ready yet, of course. Those were started weeks ago and because there’s no way to predict then when the soil will be ready, we aimed for mid-March. So we’ll be adding collards, broccoli, romaine lettuce, Chinese cabbage and more kale a few weeks from now (hopefully). In about a week we’ll sow lettuce mix and tatsoi in the raised beds.

In the past we’ve had large 3 spring gardens. This year we have only one. I’m excited to see how the experiment works out.

We’re reducing to one large summer garden as well, although we will have a separate watermelon patch and a large garden devoted to eggplant and acorn squash. Likewise we’re shrinking our usual 3 fall gardens down to one. Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes and purple hull peas will continue to have gardens of their own, as will garlic and onions beginning next year.

In some cases we’re reducing the number of varieties we grow. Too often in the past we grew things that we not much more than novelty items. There wasn’t much interest in them either here or at the market. We used to grow a yellow-fleshed Moon and Stars watermelon for example. They were pretty, and there were a few people who seemed to prefer them, but we preferred the taste of Crimson Sweet as did the vast majority of our customers. So why waste space on the Moon and Stars anymore? Besides, if we grow only one variety then we can save seeds. Growing more than one results in cross-pollination and makes that impossible. And for you Moon and Stars fans, hold your fire. I’m glad someone is growing them. They’re a great old melon. But there’s no reason we all have to grow them and, as I said, for seed-savers it’s necessary to just pick one melon and go with it. Whereas in the past we usually grew over 100 different varieties of things, this year my guess is that we’re going to be down to about half that (but I haven’t counted).

So it feels good to be underway. Within a hour or so of me finishing the planting a soft steady rain commenced. I couldn’t have scripted it any better.

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