These days, it seems every season comes with a superlative: it is either “warmest” or “wettest” or “coldest” or “driest”on record. The current spring is very cold. I do mind as a person who would like to start wearing cute summer dresses, but as a gardener I don’t really mind that much.
Despite the cold, the gardens are lusciously green and many crops are thriving. Notably the cool weather crops like radishes, spinach and mustard greens that tend to bolt quickly during warm springs are growing beautifully. Seriously, I have never grown spinach as tender as this year.
On the other hand, I am postponing planting out tender vegetables. Normally, I would plant out tomatoes before mid-May but though I have started hardening them off, I’ll wait for the soil to be really warm before setting them out. The eggplants and peppers are still living on the windowsill.
The weeds are thriving as well, so to save ourselves work in the future, we try to mulch as much as possible. We have already used up 3 straw bales because we are using straw to mulch the paths as well. Wood chips would be my mulch of choice for the paths as they are more durable but we couldn’t get them this year. New to me as mulch material is flax straw. Unlike wheat straw, it’s cut into small pieces and the compressed bales fall apart after you open the packiging. It’s easy to work with and I’m curious about how it will behave during the season.
In our backyard, the edible forest is a mass of green. There’s always a point early in the spring when the garden looks rather empty and I start questioning whether we really have that many plants in the garden. And then they take off and there’s not a patch that’s not covered in plants. Most fruit trees and bushes have flowered and are starting to form fruits. We are harvesting herbs every day, for tea, salads and cooking. The perennial vegetables are growing well too, Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus henricus) a spinach relative is probably the most reliable one we grow. The small leaves can be used in mixed salads and the larger ones cooked like spinach. The young shoots can be blanched too.
Closer to the house I have many containers filled with edibles. There are pots with thyme, mint violets and “Mara des Bois” strawberries. We have a big tub that this year has two varieties tulips (edible petals) in it, undersown with different kinds of mustard greens. We have moved our two figs outside (they overwinter in the unheated shed) and there are lots of miniature figs on them already.