Garden Lifestyle

Spring in the Vegetable Garden

It has been a very wet spring here in the Mid-Atlantic.

This time of year everything is tidy in the garden, the mulch is placed to help keep the plants moist and the weeds down, however just wait a month or two! Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger

It has been a very wet spring here in the Mid-Atlantic. I’m not complaining–always thankful for the precipitation–it makes it challenging for planting when the garden is soggy. Everything is verdant green and growing so fast you can see the plants change everyday.

Following the moon sign and the weather patterns, I jumped at the chance this week, when the garden was dry enough to work in, the nights were not too cold, the moon was just right for aboveground crops and the plants were waiting to be transplanted. Got up early and spent the entire day transplanting, watering, sowing seed, weeding and mulching–such a great feeling of accomplishment–and delight in being in the garden. The day was overcast, which is perfect for transplanting and it rained the following day and socked in all of the baby transplants.

This time of year is always so exciting with daily pleasures of sprouts breaking the earth, leaves and flower buds unfurling, bird song, trees raining down flower petals–and oh the fragrances! The azaleas have been particularly aromatic this year, the lilies-of-the-valley are nearabout cloying, the honeysuckle and locust waft through the air throughout the day.

The salad bed, greens, onions and potatoes are doing well. I just transplanted the tomatoes and chile peppers along with basils, dill and other culinary herbs. I love the stinky odor of marigolds as well as their sunny, sturdy blooms and they are a companion plant to many vegetables and deter insects as well, so I plant them here and there throughout the garden. I planted a row of assorted beans as well as cucumber seed around the cucumber cage.

I also made five mounds and planted them three-sisters-style: corn, beans and squash seeds. Put two corn kernels in the center of each mound. Then plant four beans near the outer edge of the mound placed in the four directions: north, east, south and west. Finally, plant a squash seed in between each mound. The idea is that the corn grows up first and the beans wind around it for support and the squash grows at the base with its big prickly stems and leaves and deters critters from the beans and corn.

Then the wheat straw mulch was spread around most of the transplants, everything was watered in and tools cleaned up and put away. There are still some plants in the cold frame, which I am leaving open for them to harden off. There’s not much space left in the garden. Everything looks tidy and neat right now as it always does at the beginning of the season. If we don’t stay on it, the weeds will invade by midsummer.

I am rejoicing in the garden–it is a favorite time of year when burgeoning growth is a constant reminder of the miracle of life. On this weekend celebrating Mothers’ Day, let us celebrate our Mother Earth and all that she provides us with, even though we aren’t always kind to her. Do something good for the planet this weekend–whether it is planting a plant, removing invasives or picking up litter. And of course, don’t forget to celebrate all the other mothers we have to be thankful for!

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