Showing posts from April, 2018

Happy Harvest

Though the loss of the bees was very sad, not everything about this winter was a disaster. For example, we had a large bed of winter carrots that happily spent the season underground. In this case, the warm February weather brought on an early thaw and allowed us to access them throughout the spring. But as we were about to revamp their bed for a new planting of cabbages  by April, it was time to dig the rest of them up:  Carrots that are harvested after enduring freezing temperatures are very sweet, so these are delicious roasted plain or diced into soups. At this point they are purely cooking carrots, though, as their crunch is long gone thanks to the weird free/thaw cycles this year. So we had a mini carrot festival this month, enjoying them in all kinds of dishes. Ginger Carrot Soup was a favorite: To make it, Kirk sweated some leeks (another vegetable that we overwintered underground) in butter and added rough-cut carrot chunks to the soup pot , along wi

Sad Harvest

When we last looked in on the bees in February , they were doing well. The  hive that had swarmed  had made it through the winter, and the bees were foraging for pollen during the unusually warm February weather. We even saw the queen when we took a peek, and they had honey stores left. To be safe, we gave them a few extra combs from the hive that had died off over the winter. We figured they had only to get through a few more weeks. And then March happened. Temperatures plummeted, and the whole month was far colder than usual — as if February and March had switched places . We went from a high of 76 on February 21 to a low of only 12 on March 18, and it struggled to get above 40 for most the March. The average temperature for the month was 35 degrees. That was too much cold coming on too fast for the bees to reorganize after they had broken cluster to forage on the warm days during the last two weeks of February. Bees huddle together and beat their wings to produce enough heat

2018 Master Plan: The Swingset Quadrant

Continuing around the garden to the swingset quadrant, we have our planting plan for the 2018 season: On the left, as always, is the asparagus . It’s not nearly as productive as it once was, so this spring we will try renovating it by resetting the crowns lower in the earth and adding some lime to counteract the soil acidity from a nearby evergreen tree.  Across the top are perennial grapes and herbs — nothing to see there.  Along the right side is space for Jenny Lind melons, which is a new variety of small, green fleshed melons. This is an heirloom variety popular among the Pennsylvania Dutch, and we got the seeds on a trip to the Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum last spring. There’s also a potato patch. Along the bottom is a very small length of trellised cucumbers, which will be for slicing. We have tons of pickles from last summer, so we won’t be planting any pickling cukes at all. There’s also an assortment of dill, arugula, beets and cauliflower. 

2018 Master Plan: The Patio Quadrant

We made our garden plan back in February, but I forgot to document it. I was reminded of this when we pulled out the plan to actually start planting. It hasn’t been warm — it’s snowing as I write this — but the ground has thawed and we can get started with our hardiest cool-weather plants. The leeks we ordered came in the mail, so we had to get them in the ground. We bought transplants instead of doing them from seed this year, and they are about as big around as a pencil — much bigger than the tiny strings we’ve managed to get starting them on our own. These are much easier to work with, and I’m certain they’ll have a better survival rate than our tiny seedlings, so this looks to be a good investment. Behind the cold frame you can see a few of last year’s leeks — these are the stragglers we haven’t harvested yet. Usually when we plant in March, we’re out of luck when it comes to compost. That’s because the City Yard doesn’t open until April and our pile is usually frozen.