Spring planting

I planted the garden today. This is the earliest I have ever planted tomatoes. It is a risk because chilly weather is expected early next week and then we are going away for five days. However, the alternative was to wait two more weeks and find somebody to look after the plants while we are gone. Rain is forecast for tomorrow, so I hope it will help the plants establish themselves. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the temperature won’t dip too low next week.

I did not start anything from seed indoors this spring. It seemed more worthwhile to take our pick of heirloom varieties available at the farmers’ market. One tomato plant costs about the same as a packet of seeds. We chose Brandywine, Earl of Edgcombe, Old German, Black Plum, Sweet 100 (cherry) and two Romas. The peppers are Lipstick and Cayenne. You can see them all interplanted with basil and yellow onions on the left. If I am lucky we will have cherry tomatoes ripening by the end of July instead of September.

I established a new bed for potatoes on the far right. We had some big pieces of cardboard, so I laid those down first, wet them well and cut a hole for each potato, setting the spuds on top. Then I added some worm compost around each tuber, piled damp straw, sprinkled bone meal over the top and wet it some more. I’ll add more straw as it settles and the plants emerge.

In the middle bed, I planted some leeks in a trench at the far end. At the near end, some of last year’s herbs are re-emerging: thyme, sage, anise hyssop, lavender and garlic chives, even a demure clump of lemon balm.

My friend Joan Lambert Bailey says in Tokyo it grows invasively as other members of the mint clan. I have never had that problem with lemon balm. It self-sows, but that is easy to manage. It is such a pleasant herb, I am just happy to see it return.

Since the herbs are flourishing in that part of the garden, I decided to make it the herb area, closest to the kitchen. I added one more plant each of thyme and sage, along with new rosemary, Italian parsley and chives. Planting parsley might be unwise; rabbits and groundhogs go for it like zombies for brains.

Just in view partway down the first bed, a clump of sorrel is filling out vigorously. It was one of the first things to sprout green in early spring, but I never had a chance; the groundhog devastated it shamelessly. Now the creature is leaving well alone. Something more delectable must have sprouted elsewhere in its range. Maybe we can have sorrel soup this weekend.

The middle of the second bed and the far end of the new one remain vacant. I’ll plant acorn squash and zucchini there later in the month. I hesitate to devote space to watermelon because Danny won’t eat it, but who grows the stuff, anyway? This gardener loves watermelon. I should indulge in one vine this year.

Planting it all took surprisingly little work, less than two hours. Maybe half the time was spent laying out the new potato section. The permaculture no-dig beds established last year remain practically weed free. Still, I’m knackered.

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