Today is Tuesday, we’re more than halfway through May, and the garden prep work continues in earnest. Here in NEPA, our official planting zone “last frost date” is Memorial Day, the last weekend in May that also serves as the three-day kickoff to summer. Possibly as a result of climate change, the weather has heated up earlier and earlier the past few years, and many local gardeners have been taking the chance our predecessors would not have dreamed of, and putting our plants in the ground a week or two “early”. I took this chance with some vegetables, and hopefully will not lose them to a sudden hard frost.
In our main raised-bed garden in the center of the yard, SP and I rotate crops each year, with his tomatoes and peppers on one side, and a varying group of other vegetables that I plant on the other. Last week, I prepared my ” side” for planting. I cleared what was left of last year’s tomatoes , weeded, and mulched with a double layer of newspaper and weedcloth to stifle any weed seedlings. Here are my official ” before planting “garden photos for this year:
Many of the herbs came back in my kitchen garden, and I am thrilled! Every day it seems like another plant I had thought I’d need to replace pops up, having reseeded itself. The list includes variegated and white sage, lemon thyme, English thyme, French tarragon, golden oregano, four varieties of mint, flat leaf and curly parsley, feverfew, rosemary, and just today, some tiny cilantro plants appeared. My goal for this herb bed beside the back door is to keep it as a permanent kitchen garden. To this end, this year I am adding some cool season greens in among the herbs, my first additions being red and white romaine lettuce and a few green swiss chard plants. (Note my DIY drip irrigation in the form of recycled seltzer bottles- thanks Pinterest!)
I am wishing I had put some of last year’s lettuce plants in with the herbs, as looking in the side of the garden that will now be devoted to tomatoes has revealed no fewer than a dozen reseeded red lettuces, and two or three of the green buttercrunch variety. Early last week, I was able to transplant some of these to the cinder block planters on my side of the raised bed,and they seem to be doing well there. So we’ll have an early lettuce crop, thanks to heirloom seeds.
Sadly, I haven’t been able to do much heavy garden work this weekend, as an injury to my back and shoulder is causing quite a bit of discomfort, has caused my knitting to come to a standstill ( though I can still crochet, a bit! )and prevents me from doing tasks such as weed pulling, raking, and digging. With the help of Baby Girl and Big Brother Number Two, I was able to get some cukes and squash that I’d started from seed a few weeks ago into the raised bed, and Baby Girl has been a wonderful two-and-a-half-year-old help in sowing seeds and watering- she’s got some rather clumpy looking radishes sprouted up, as well as some baby sweet peas.
On the side of less effort, the perennial flowers, our forsythia and tulips are on the way out, peonies and mock orange to be arriving next week….at this in-between stage, we’ve got a lot of purple; creeping phlox, an early giant allium, and next door’s lilacs, which the girls and I have been shamelessly sniffing at the fence every time we walk by. I know from experience that it only takes one good rain to knock out all the lilacs, so we’re enjoying them while we can. This week, SP will be tilling and moving his tomatoes and peppers from the mini-greenhouse into the garden proper, while he resists my attempts to drag him to the garden center for “just fill-in stuff”. Next up for BG and me: planting out some sunflowers, more vegetables, our ever-present morning glories, and a craft project, or even two… In the meantime, here’s a shot of the lilacs: