Wednesday, April 27, 2005


The past couple of days I've been spending time in the dirt. It's unusual for me to be able to get into the garden this early in the year. A typical year might have me preparing beds if I get a cloudy day, but not planting until some time towards the end of May. This year, however, it appears as if I'll be in early with several plants.

We don't usually plant lettuces or other such leafy cold crops. It's not that dislike these things - in fact, we love them - but rather that our battles with slugs and snails usually end in our admitting defeat. So, we try and grow things that the slugs won't be as attracted to such as snow peas, beans, squash, tomatoes and so on. With Shawn in class until late June, I'll be handling the prep work and most of the plant choices.

The prep work is particularly enjoyable this year. First of all, this will be our third season and the beds are in quite good shape. Secondly, we left our black ground cover on 3 of the 5 beds, so weeds are minimal on those beds. Third, on the 2 beds that didn't have black ground cover, pansies have taken root and grown in them.

The pansies are descendents from ones that we planted on the border of the garden last year. It was just a single row of pansies, about 16 plants. It ran along one side of our garden - closest to our living room window. From that row sprung pansies in far places in our back yard. I've found them as far away as the fence some 40 feet in the distance, sprouting up where I planted a dahlia last year. The majority, however, ended up in these 2 garden beds and there are a lot of them.

We've got so many pansies, in fact, that we're donating some. A co-worker of Shawn's, Colleen, is in charge of a plant slae fundraiser at her church. Colleen helped us out a couple of years ago by lending us space in her garage to store some things while the house was being built. It's a pleasure to pay her back in some small way with these plants.

Some of the pansies are being saved for our garden border. We had a lot of grass and weeds grow up on what are our borders and paths, so I've decided to take the garden claw to them in order to clean them out. We decided not to keep the existing pansies - they were being munched on anyhow and it would be too difficult to separate them from the weeds that have grown through and around them. So, they will be removed and once the path is clear, I'll transplant pansies from the garden beds to the borders in order to enjoy them another season.

I like this happy accident with the pansies. Perhaps I'll leave those 2 beds without ground cover this year again in order to let the pansies take root over winter and fall. After the pansies are transplanted, I'll take the weeds out of the beds and mix 3 bags of compost per bed into their soil. Three of the beds will get new black ground cover. In one of the other beds, I'll start peas and beans and in the final one, I'll begin some radishes, kohlrabi, and beets.

This has been a remarkable spring. We haven't gotten our typical rains, which makes water conservationa must this year! On the other paw, we have gotten some lovely warm, sunny days since Frebruary.

My parents and friends back in Michigan were telling me about the snow this past weekend. I recoiled at their descriptions which all contained the disclaimer "It's not bad, really". It sounded terrible to me. If nothing else, it's a reminder of another reason I don't want to go back and live there. I'd rather have the rain and 40 degrees.

Working in the garden, with the mountains in the background, just feels so natural. I'm home here and happy for it.

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