Deferred Garden Maintenance

Under the kohlrabi, spring is in the air.

Spring is always a busy time of year in the garden, but this year is far worse than normal for us. Not only are we speed parenting four chicks (blink and they’ve hit chicken adolescence), we’re also aiming to more than double the size of last year’s apiary.

In the midst of such exciting and demanding pursuits, we are neglecting other garden tasks. Planting starts for spring and summer veggies comes to mind, as well as finding a home for forgotten greenhouse babies and weeding what has become a jungle of chickweed and miner’s lettuce in the cole crop bed (not to mention the carrot patch, which is no longer visible to the untrained eye).

It’s at times like this we ask ourselves if our gardening efforts are really worthwhile given the limited time we have to spend in the garden, and whether we are certifiably insane for continuing to take on new projects. But alas, we are true garden addicts, and we can’t help ourselves. Instead, we wade through weeds, wring our hands, and muster the strength to go on.

This weekend, I made a feeble attempt to right some of our garden wrongs. On Friday I planted out two leftover six-packs of beets given to me at the school garden where I volunteer. I also planted out half a flat of ‘Red Bull’ onion starts. Yes, it is quite late. Yes, they were seeded in September and are looking pretty stunted and forlorn, but I couldn’t bear to compost them. They will join the list of vegetables subjected to my plant abuse survival testing.

On Saturday, I filled a new raised bed with last year’s compost and several bags of store-bought soil (ugh!) and planted out 21 bare root ‘Albion’ strawberries and 7 ‘Seascape ‘ strawberries. The strawberry bed is directly in front of our top-bar hive, which, with the onset of truly warm weather, is going gangbusters.  For the first time ever with this hive, I had to literally race around the garden to get one particularly territorial bee off my trail.

The new strawberry bed, ready to plant. The 'Santa Rosa' plum is in full flower on the right side of the frame.

I followed up my strawberry planting with a kohlrabi, cauliflower, and broccoli weeding session, thinned the fall-planted beets, and limped inside for dinner.

For her part, Kelly has been astonishingly productive in the garden on her one day off a week. Most recently, she pruned, weeded, and mulched the raspberries, and erected wires and t-posts to train the vines. She has also been the superstar of the bee equipment inventory process, figuring how many boxes we need to catch swarms and establish hives, and where those hives will ultimately live.

If we make it through the next month of coop building, hive assembling, and seed planting, I think we’ll have a decent shot at coming out on top. In the meantime we’ll be relying on plenty of chocolate and our senses of humor to get us through.

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