The end of May is just a week away. Summer is literally around the corner. And the garden just now … well, it’s looking the way it should have looked at the end of March.
That is to say, tilled and covered in plastic.
Not beautiful, unfortunately, but at least a step closer to usable.
The weather has finally – finally! – gotten nice, so we rented a Maxim commercial-grade rototiller for a day. Jasper tilled the entire 100′ x 50′ garden space in just a couple of hours, compared to the days and days it would haven taken us to double dig or use our little electric tiller. Eventually I would prefer not to have to till at all, but to have permanent raised beds, to sheet mulch, and to use a broadfork to loosen things up when necessary. But the thatch and the weeds were thick this year, and we’re just really still trying to get our feet under us. So rototiller it was.
The Redwing onions are, surprisingly, doing great. I lost some of the slips at the lower end of the row when it was so rainy, but the rest managed to survive and are growing well. I’m going to add a pile of manure down the center of the bed soon, maybe some fish meal too, and hopefully we will have some big bulbed storage onions at the end of the season!
I have a pile of Copra slips sitting in the shed. I hadn’t planted them before because it was too rainy to prepare another bed, and then things just got away from us. I don’t know if it’s too late to plant them – they need about four months to mature – but I might just stick them in and see what happens. I think we’re owed a nice long Indian summer at this point, anyway.
In the greenhouse the tomatoes are growing like there’s no tomorrow. I have to tie them up soon or they’re all going to start falling over. I’m going to use twine clips this year, which will hopefully prove to be a little faster to implement and more secure than tomato tape. Plus, they’re reusable. I hate to have to throw away all those little strips of plastic every year.
The girls and I are eagerly awaiting the first tomatoes, which are maybe a month away. I’m 99% sure the winners will be the Sungolds again this year. We also have Indigo Cherry Drops, Brandywines, Cuore Di Bues, San Marzanos, Polish Linguisas and Pink Berkeley Tie Dyes. Two of each, and all doing superbly. We are going to be swimming (or drowning) in tomatoes!
Also worth noting is the pasture. Gary, the previous tenant, didn’t end up doing much for the old farmhouse, but he did greatly improve the pastures. They’d been fallow and weedy for years, but now they are a really healthy mix of rye, alfalfa, timothy, legumes and red clover. I’m sure there’s other stuff in there too, but those are what come to mind. Suffice it to say that the fields are healthy and amazing.
We were approached by someone asking if they could come hay the field for us in exchange for a couple bales. We don’t have any animals this year that could use the hay, so instead I think we’ll just be cutting and letting it mulch in place to improve the biomass for next year.
We haven’t planted the corn yet, even though we did get the plot tilled. We’re going to try to solarize the soil with thick black plastic before we plant, to try to keep the weeds to a minimum.
After much discussion, Jasper and I decided not to plant pickling cucumbers this year. We just don’t have the kitchen or storage space (or time, or inclination) to make pickles. Hopefully we’ll be moving in the fall, so we don’t want to pile too much on our plate. We still have eight jars of pickles left, anyway.
We did agree to plant the yellow wax beans though. We finished all the dilly beans months ago, and almost all the frozen beans, too. They’re something we just really love to eat (sautèed with a little butter … heavenly!), and they pretty much ripen all at once, so canning them isn’t a long drawn-out affair. So yesterday I put 220 bean seeds into the ground. Fingers crossed that the good weather lasts!
And that, my friends, is how the garden is doing in May.