More Spring Planting

What a great weekend, in the 80's temperature-wise, bright and sunny, and two perfect days of accomplishments in the garden!

Corn is in! This is one of my favorite crops each year, and I plan to succession plant this time around, so I get two crops. Nothing tastes as good to me as a fresh ear of corn, smothered with butter and salt. Or right off the stalk! Last year our yield was disappointing, so I'm hoping that having it in two different places will tell us what the corn prefers.

Collards are in! This is a wonderful summer crop; it is one of the few greens that can take summer heat. I have it in the South Garden, where it will get six hours of early sun, then afternoon shade. It did great there last year and I hope for the same this year. Young, tender leaves are delicious sautéed in olive oil and eaten just like spinach or kale.

Tom made four more trellises for me, learning a new method of joinery from my father.

In Dad's shop, sawing up the boards

The trellises before chicken wire is added
The trellises are for beans and winter squashes, which are both in! Two kinds of pole beans, green and purple, and two kinds of squash, Delicata and a climbing version of butternut. I'm waiting on pumpkin, as it will go underneath the pole beans, and I need to give the beans a head start before I plant pumpkin seeds. 

I yanked all the spinach, as it was starting to look peaked. I washed a bunch of still-nice leaves for our use, fed a bunch to the chickens, and composted the rest. Spinach was a great crop for us this winter and supplied us from January on.

I added a lot of nasturtiums, calendula, and marigolds to the vegetable beds, mainly for color and interest, but it can't hurt to draw the bees' attention to the crops, as well.

Speaking of bees: We opened the hive Saturday, and the bees are still building herky comb. So we had to remove some spurs, which made them mad, and made us sad. It takes a tremendous amount of calories and energy for the bees to build comb; I hope they don't get discouraged that we keep removing it. 

Here's a picture of some of the comb we removed. There's a lot of nectar stored in it, as well as different colors of pollen. The variety is pretty.

One good thing is that the bees have more comb than they did earlier in the week, so they are building quickly. I'm going to order more natural wax to glue on to the bars, so they have a better 'pattern' to emulate.

I took a look at Dad's hives this weekend, and promptly got stung. I haven't been stung in years! It hurts like the dickens until you take the stinger out, and then it's ok after that, except that the swelling can be uncomfortable. And, it'll be itchy in a couple of days.

Not just the stinger, but part of the bee's body, stuck in there.

Y'all know how to take a stinger out, right? Use a credit card and scrape it out. If you use tweezers, you squeeze the stinger and inject even more poison into the skin. After that, use cortisone cream or toothpaste (paste, not gel) to help with swelling and itching. Baking soda paste works too.

I harvested a bulb of garlic, to see if I need to go ahead and harvest the whole bed. The green stalks are starting to brown, which is supposed to be the indication of readiness; the bulbs are certainly huge! 

We've put it on the mesh above the chicken coop to cure; we'll take a look at it next week, and then decide what to do next. I'm not exactly sure how it's supposed to look, but I think I'll know when I see it. (That may be naive.)

We're still harvesting kale every day, and peas every day - and, a new development - strawberries every day! Yahoo! They really are so much more tasty straight from the garden.

The artichokes are growing and I'm still not sure whether I want to harvest them, or leave them to flower this first year.

Cilantro is growing like crazy, and I need to figure out what to do with it all!

The herb spiral is growing wonderfully and producing plenty of produce for nearly daily use. I have rosemary in pots elsewhere, and basil will go in the beds as soon as it's warmer at night, and I've planted feverfew and chives in other spots as well; meanwhile this mound of herbs is so useful and one of the best things I've done in the garden. I just have to keep a sharp eye on the mint. It's a bully.

In the flower garden, phacelia bloomed this week. This plant is also called 'bee's friend,' as they love the blooms. I have two different kinds. Both are lovely.

The red clover has now bloomed throughout the grassy area we have left in front; the bees love it, and it looks pretty. I just have to figure out how to cut the grass around it, or maybe I'll just mow it all down and watch it grow again!

We have plenty of white clover too, and I've recently seeded some more of that as well. It's just so much more useful than grass. Again, it's a small area, but I'm pretty down on grass right now (as you all know).

The pollinator garden is starting to burst with blooms, mostly poppies, but also hummingbird sage, salvias, and nicotiana. Borage is beginning, too. Plus the coral bells are still blooming. And spirea has begun to bloom.

I planted more flower seeds, plus some seeds for climbing up a trellis I have back by the water feature. These are an heirloom climbing bean that might even bear fruit. The seeds are quite beautiful.

After the we were finished planting and trellising the North Garden, Tom took a picture. It's really shaping up back here.

The rope is for the shade sail, which is over our patio.

So that's the North Garden. The South Garden is where the pollinator garden is, plus peas, kale, carrots, potatoes, romaine, and some leftover broccoli and beets. Soon I'll plant Bibb lettuce as well as basil, and when the peas are done, cucumbers, both slicing and pickling. That planting will probably happen in early May.

I'll leave you with two videos of some birds in our yard. The first are two blackbirds on our back fence; the male is doing a mating dance for the female. We've never seen this in our yard before, in fact we've never seen blackbirds here, though there are plenty in the open space. The second video is of a mother black-capped Chickadee, bringing food through a huge Ribes plant into a nesting box that Adam made a long time ago and nailed against his train shed. You can see the mother bird checking me out, then she flies in, then you can hear the babies peeping, then she flies out again. We love seeing bird activity in our yard!