This blog is a record of my various gardens in and around Shepherdstown, WV over the past few years. They are classic potagers and the goal has been to produce food for the kitchen year round. As a blog, it shows the most recent entries first, in reverse chronological order. If you'd rather read the blog in chronological order, from the beginning, click on the link below.
Woke up this morning to the sound of rain and thought maybe we had dodged the bullet again...but no: shortly after dawn it began to snow big sloppy flakes on a slack breeze. We got about an inch of rain overnight, but still it stuck instantly -- the moisture on leaves and steps and all the stuff left out in the yard till some other time was almost at freezing anyway -- and we've gotten a quick half inch already.
Here are Before and After pictures, taken from the southeast corner of the garden.
Ran out to pick some greens for a salad. Made a decision last night not to cover them (or the other crops) thinking that it was better to let the snow settle down amongst them rather than be stopped by a cover and form an icy, crushing mass. We'll see tomorrow if I was right, as it is forecast to be a sunny day in the 40's and 50's. That will likely melt most of this mess off. Just last weekend it was in the 60's and the weekend before that in the 70's. Oh, well....
This reminds me precisely of the storm of October 1988, which collapsed our greenhouse and provided the final push for us to get out of the farmstand business and expand our seed catalog...
Thurs night: Showers likely before 8pm. Areas of frost after 3am. Otherwise, cloudy during the early evening, then gradual clearing, with a low around 33. North wind 13 to 16 mph decreasing to between 5 and 8 mph. Winds could gust as high as 26 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.
Friday: Areas of frost before 8am. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 52. North wind between 3 and 6 mph.
Hurrah! Another sign of spring, and summer approaching: the first pea blossoms! I've got three varieties in and the Thomas Lazton's are the first to bloom. I'm sure it will be a while for the sugar snaps, as they are only about 3 feet up their seven foot trellis, but I'm willing to wait. I grew more peas than usual this year (three rows) as I am concentrating on early crops to try and outwit the stink bugs.
Well it took a couple of days, but I did get back to the landfill, where they make the mulch. Just so you have an idea of how deep I like it to be to have the desired effect (see earlier post) here is a picture, partly through the process...BTW, it is $7.50 a "bucket" and a bucket does half my 1500 sf garden...
April showers bring May flowers...but, along with warm teperatures (at last!) they also bring out the fungi. Here is a picture of our Morel harvest from yesterday. Idiscovered a few by chance last year along a path I oftern walk, and this spring's find confirms that there is a solid (if small) colony there! Where? Don't ask...<G>
The benefits of mulch in the growing beds of a potager are pretty obvious, but we shouldn't forget just how nice it is to have a good, deep mulch on the main paths as well. We got 4-5 inches of rain over the course of two days last week, and during one particular downpour that benefit became especially clear. I have been in the process of renewing the path mulch as part of my spring maintenance, and last weekend I only had time to get about half the garden done. In this picture it is pretty easy to tell which part!
Look at the growing bed in the right foreground for a sense of just how soaking a rain it was. At one point the center background path was flowing water, lifting silt from the unfinished part of the garden in back (more on that at some point) and washing it down the path (spreading weed seed as it went, no doubt...). But the deeply mulched parts of the path never even showed a wet surface; it was clean walking and no erosion throughout the whole storm. Today I am definitely going back to the landfill for that last load!
Tips & Tricks For Busy Gardeners....that's the topic for the sixth and final week of the winter-spring lecture series at the Bavarian Inn. This coming Tuesday, March 22 -- at 7 PM I'll be winding up the current series. We've had a lot of fun, and attendance has been great...we planned for 15-20, but got more than 20 the first week and the excitement (and attendance) has been building from there.
Series sign-ups got a break on the package and will be attending the last talk for free, but walk-ins are still possible, and everybody who shows up for the final night will get the password to view the entire series of PowerPoints on the web so they will be able to review the previous five sessions and pick up what they missed.
To check it out visit the series web page at Your Freedom Garden or just show up Tuesday and pay at the door.
We've had some requests for a Fall program, and at the end of Tuesday night's program we'll be talking about that. Come put your two cents in, enjoy the info-packed presentation, and network with other kitchen gardeners!
With rain forecast for tomorrow after a decent dry spell, I decided it was time to get started with my spring planting, even though it is fairly early on a calendar basis. But first, I had to check the status of things that were still in the ground when winter hit last November. We had a fairly cold, dry winter, though without any real extremes other than the quick descent from a balmy Thanksgiving to an immediate regime of teeens at night and low thirties in the daytime.
Winter came on so quick, and I was so busy (teaching four days a week and going to grad school full time) that I never had a chance to get my spring bulbs in until early February, when we had another warm spell...and now here in March it has gone cold on us again. As usual, all we can do is react, and try finesse our crops from a fickle nature. At least I had my wood in, so I didn't freeze -- and I never had to turn on the baseboards once!
So, the crops: The garlic is already up and green (though not the shallots), and the few brassicas that survived the winter are beginning to perk up, too. It is the first time I have let any go through the winter down here, and I'll be curious to see if any of them produce something before running to seed. The earlier of the two fall plantings of carrots look like they may produce something, but all the beets and radishes and celery roots froze out -- as did the lettuce -- since I never got out to cover them with Reemay or leaves. The parsnips look fine (and big). Oh, and the spinach is fine, if a little bedraggled; I'm sure it will come around nicely now, with the weather warming.
I went out the other night to hear a speaker at the NCTC . She was local -- a USDA researcher from the Kearneysville Ag Exp Station -- and co chair of the national stink bug research team. As the newspaper reported this morning, I wasn't the only one interested...in fact it was a record crowd -- nearly 400 people.! Local farmer Allan Balliett got a recording of the talk from Mark Madison of the NCTC and posted it on Vimeo (below).
Dr Tracey Leskey 02/09/11 "Emergence of the Invasive Brown Marmorated Stink Bug as Serious Ag and Nuisance Pest in the U.S.".
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