My little garden-herb shed 'Sprig' bursts with new seeds, starts, and baskets of seed potatoes and alliums.
Spring is stirring inside me just as surely as it stirs in the seeds I sowed last week. The seeds are already up and showing their first cotyledons. Hurrah! Mâche, mesclun, calendula, love-in-a-mist, poppies, violas, butter lettuce, radishes, and carrots are tempting the hungry sparrows.
I love this time of year and catapult out of bed and into the garden early each morning. So much happens every day and so much needs my TLC. I don’t mind the extra hours, the extra clipping, mulching, and weeding because the garden gives back much more than I ever put into it.
Every inch of the soil is covered with a layer of clean straw. I don't believe in tilling the soil. I feel that it destroys the structure and injures so many things. So, like Mother Nature, I constantly top the soil with a protective coverlet of mulch. This will keep the soil moist, mostly weed free, and it will nurture it and all the critters. I had to hand apply it and watched closely so that my seedlings weren't covered.
The tight fists of the Mission and Brown Turkey figs are already thrust into the blue sky. The wild currant drips with hummingbird-thronged pink blooms, and the hollyhocks, dependable hollyhocks, are centered with fuzzy-rumped bumblebees.
Out in the herb courtyard, the espaliered triple-graft heirloom apple already blooms. It began blooming in January, which is a shock to me. I have more lessons to learn whenever I go outdoors–so much life in my tiny garden.
I ran out of room in the garden and decided to call some of my antique buckets and barrels into service. They work fine for plants, but the tinware really heats the soil quickly. So I lined half a dozen of my antique tins (which have drainage holes) with fresh straw. The straw acts as insulator and as it breaks down it enriches the soil. I planted the seed potatoes, shallots, onions (red and white cipolla), and garlic in the buckets.
Small seed potatoes were placed on the soil and covered with two inches of straw. As the potato vines grow I will "hill" them with more straw and soil.
Early mornings are great out at my work bench. Seedlings of California poppies are started in the egg carton. The aqua vessel on the egg carton is an old fashioned thumb pot, which is used to water seedlings.
I planted my new artichokes inside gopher baskets.
Tight bud of Victoria Cherry Rhubarb. I've surrounded the fountain of artichoke with these parasol-leaved beauties. I already can imagine how they'll taste in a cobbler or a pie.
Isn't it gorgeous?
Harvested and cooked the last of the carrots and replanted in my trusty old washtub.
This is butter lettuce and the rainbow colored carrots, which are miniscule now, but coming. The carrots grow beautifully in this deep tub, but I miss the fun shapes they make when they're grown in clay or rocky soil. They're hilarious and kids love them when they're not straight.
Until next time and thank you so much for your letters and e-mails. Today I received a special letter from a loyal reader. I wanted to share this one letter with you because it is so dear and it made me cry. These are like soul food to me and help me understand just why I do what I do.