Farmgirl Gardening Series- Week 2 (Potatoes and Other Spring Crops)

Well, it’s snowing again.  As I write, warm in front of the fireplace with a cup of hot, earthy coffee, I watch the rain/snow mix fall weightlessly to the ground.  Maryjane thought Santa was coming the other night.  But, even folks that live in Colorado forget that April is one of our snowiest months and we have two more weeks before Santa can put his snow boots away! Still, the finches are singing and a quiet hush is over the land as the blossomed fruit trees drink and the earth softens with moisture.

Last week if it were even fairly warm I was at the Community Garden.  Opening a little late, leaving a little early from work, goodness, it’s a very good thing I can’t fire myself! (so this summer should I be missing from my shop go to the community gardens…)

Now, let’s get to work, spring crops are going in!  I lined the paths I created with thick blocks of straw.  Underneath, as I empty the bags of garden soil, I slip the bag beneath the straw as weed suppression.  I will place walking stones across these as money allows to hold everything in place.

Use a good old fashioned hoe to rough up the areas and to easily pull up errant, non-medicinal weeds.  You see that I purposely am gardening around the Cherokee roses and mullein!

The first row of potatoes (russet) will be joined by garlic.  Any organic garlic from the store will work (conventional vegetables are sprayed so that they cannot be planted).  A row of potatoes every foot and a half or so and a long row of garlic cloves next to it.  I used this marker to show where  ran out of garlic cloves, cause I’ll be damned if I waste even two feet of space!  In went kale seeds.

The next two rows of potatoes were joined by yellow onions.  When I ran out of onions, I planted chard.  Just dig a hole, nestle seed potato in, cover with garden soil.  Cut a thin row with your hoe, put a few seeds per few inches, cover in garden soil.  That is how we will plant everything.  Water, cover the whole thing with a light, and I mean light, covering of straw. We aren’t trying to suppress weeds here yet, just keep the soil from drying out too fast, and leaving little seeds exposed.

Jpeg

I use tomato cages to hold up vines.  Around the outside of the tomato cages every three inches or so goes in a pea seed.  Four cages of snap peas, four of my beloved purple snow peas (just like immigrants and travelers and migrators of old, I have carried my seeds with me through our journey this last year), and four of Alaskan shelling peas.  In V shaped lines zigzagging between cages went four different kinds of lettuce, and more kale.

I had room at the end of the peas (see how many vegetables you can get in a small space?) I planted a few seeds in each hole a foot a part of quick growing cabbage.  Greyhound cabbage, it’s called.  I love it because we loved and miss our greyhound!  In a tick tack toe grid between the cabbages went radishes.

Another row went in of another kind of cabbage and Doug’s favorite, cucumbers, every other.  The last foot and a half is for corn, beans, and pumpkins, and sunflowers but we won’t put those in for two weeks.  I left a foot on the north end as well for the same.

In the other bed Maryjane and I started one row that contains beets, three different colors of carrots, pak choi, spinach, and cauliflower.  Then one of broccoli who will probably be interplanted with soy beans.  Seeds will grow, planting 1 or 2 in each hole is quite sufficient, unless you have a three year old gardener.  I think she planted 20 cauliflower seeds in each hole.  She was so cute doing it though!

Paths in, seeds lightly covered, now we wait for the rain and snow to moisten, then Nudah (sun) to come out and spread enough warmth to germinate the seeds.  Soon it will be summer.  See you next week!

 

The Farm is Always Better on the Other Side

Sometimes I go other places with lush flora and warm air and wonder what the heck I am doing trying to homestead and farm in such a difficult place.  A four month growing season, sudden freezes, floods, hail storms, drought, deer, can’t save rain water, high altitude farming is not easy.  Why, I bet one could just throw out seeds here, go in for another cup of coffee, and come back out to see them germinate!

A gal we know who is big in the local food community in Colorado told us a story about how she and her new husband at the time took a boat to Costa Rica and started a farm on a whim.  It was great, she said.  But then she made sure to mention that everywhere has its pros and cons of farming.  There are different pests, different climate issues, different things to think and worry about.  Grow where planted and do it gleefully is the lesson I got once again.

I was inspired by a Japanese Friendship Garden we visited yesterday in Balboa Park.  Sipping warm tea through the rain we stopped to visit the Koi fish in their pond.  I was inspired by the serenity of the gardens.  I often think of food production and intensive farming techniques, finding most flowers a waste if I can’t eat them or make medicine out of them!  But there was a peace and a spiritual aspect to these gardens that are missing from mine.  The Japanese Maple can be grown in Colorado.  Koi (my one experiment ended in a raccoon buffet) would be a lovely addition.  I like how the trees there were planted on a flat patch on the hillside to capture water.  Places to sit and places to listen all encourage one to rest and listen to the birds sing and take in the intoxicating views of flowers.

I am impressed with the produce here.  Everything we can grow in Colorado grows more vibrant and more prolific than at home.  I made this beautiful meal out of everything from the market.  It would be a lovely place to farm.

For the week I have traded Ponderosas and Daffodils for Palms and Bougainvillea.  I have traded fields of corn for fields of strawberries.  We dream of different options.  Where we could live, where we could farm, where we would thrive.  But in a few days we will be back in Elizabeth.  Maryjane and I rented 20% of the garden plots in Elizabeth and we will go pick out our seeds.  I love farming with my granddaughter and I suppose where she is, is where you will find me too.