Spring Fever

Here in the continental United States, it’s currently 35 degrees and overcast, dropping to about 14 tonight and giving us an inch of snow and ice tonight before warming back up to the mid fifties by Saturday.

So, of course, I’m working in the garden. What else would I be doing?

Not just planning and ordering seeds, you understand; I’ve been shifting dirt for the past week, weather permitting, with an eye toward new raised beds.

The previous garden consisted of two 4×16 raised beds, which filled the available space and gave me a decent square footage to work with. I was never going to feed us from this garden, but it was fun and usually looked nice.

But time marches on, and the weather took its toll on the beds. They were also handicapped by their origins- I had no idea what I was doing when I built them. So they were a rotten, collapsing mess by the end of last year.

Time for new raised beds. The have to go in the same footprint, and they have to last to the end of next year, 2024, because we’re moving that spring and I don’t want to leave a mess behind.

Cue lots of digging and a few trips to Home Depot for lumber and paving stones, and, barring catastrophe, I’ll have four 4×7 beds, with a walkway between them, by the time gardening season gets into full swing. For better or worse, I can’t put them all together at once because I overwintered a few things in one bed and I have to wait for the weather to improve before disturbing the ground.

So there’s been a lot of shoveling and grumbling lately, and there will be more. Let’s face it, I’m kind of a wimp. Moving eight cubic feet of dirt shouldn’t be this hard (sixteen in total, but as I said above, I’m working on one half at a time). In my defense, this stuff is so clay-heavy that I could take a handful and make a halfway decent pot out of it without processing it at all. I don’t know how plants grow in it, to be honest. Shifting it is like shoveling concrete, and while I’m thankful for the exercise, I can’t help wishing for my dad’s backhoe. One scoop, and the job would be done.

Oh, well. It’s a good excuse to put some organic matter into the soil. Last year’s leaves, horse manure, various odds and ends. Anything to help the poor plants and discourage the mole that insisted on tunneling through my cucumbers last year. On the other hand, he did help aerate the soil. On the other other hand, I had six plants and my total yield was a single, sad cucumber. So, Mr. Mole needs to find somewhere else to tunnel this year.

And what am I going to plant in my shiny new garden?

All the things, of course.

… Okay, make that, ‘most of the things.’ Brassicas don’t do well in this garden- though that doesn’t stop me from trying! I’m one of those weirdos who loves broccoli, etc.- and I’ve also had bad luck with zucchini. I don’t get it, either. How does one fail to grow zucchini?

On the other hand, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, and rocket seem to do well, so I foresee lots of salads in my future. I’m also going to try the usual cucumbers, peppers, peas, and beans- less successful, but still a decent yield. Have any of you grown Romano-type beans?- if you have any tips, let me know in the comments.

My big experiment is cardoon, which is a relative of the artichoke; instead of eating the buds, one eats the stems. And for heaven’s sake, someone stop me from buying lingonberry plants. I need to concentrate on annuals this year; we’re moving to another state next year, and I can only take a couple of potted plants with me. One of those spots is already claimed by the rosemary, and if the lavender survives that long, it gets the other spot.

The perils of enthusiastic-but-necessarily-mobile gardening. Such is life.

How does your garden grow?

10 thoughts on “Spring Fever

  1. I have crocus sprouts! And dwarf irises! Plus tulips in a sheltered spot!

    And a neighbor who has actual crocus BUDS. In deep purple.

  2. In Houston the daily highs are getting close to eighty, the lowest of the lows dip to the high thirties. Everything is growing, the fruit trees are flowering . . .

    There’s no way we’re not going to get another freeze. :: sigh ::

    But I should be digging up my garden and getting ready for _after_ the last freeze of the winter.

  3. My focus this year is praying that the 800 bulbs I planted last fall lived through the winter and the varmints and the wild temperature swings here in Central Pennsylvania and actually come up this year and bloom.

    They’re all miniatures supposed to naturalize and spread so I don’t have to do this again. Ipheon, Ornithogalum, Squill, Scilla, Muscari, Crocus, and two others whose names I can’t remember.

    That lying catalog promised a carpet of spring flowers from March to May. We’ll see.

    If you want *REAL* creative writing, nursery and plant catalogs are loaded with flights of fantasy.

    1. As has long been known…. 😎


      “It’s forty in the shade to-day, the spouting eaves declare;
      The boulders nose above the drift, the southern slopes are bare;
      Hub-deep in slush Apollo’s car swings north along the Zod-
      iac. Good luck, the Spring is back, and Pan is on the road!

      His house is Gee & Tellus’ Sons, – so goes his jest with men –
      He sold us Zeus knows what last year; he’ll take us in again.
      Disguised behind the livery-team, fur-coated, rubber-shod –
      Yet Apis from the bull-pen lows – he knows his brother God!


      Serene, assenting, unabashed, he writes our orders down: –
      Blue Asphodel on all our paths – a few true bays for crown –
      Uncankered bud, immortal flower, and leaves that never fall –
      Apples of Gold, of Youth, of Health – and – thank you, Pan, that’s all….

      He’s off along the drifted pent to catch the Windsor train,
      And swindle every citizen from Keene to Lake Champlain.
      But where his goat’s-hoof cut the crust – beloved, look below –
      He’s left us (I’ll forgive him all) the may-flower ‘neath her snow!”

    2. The real fun in seed catalogs is when they contradict each other. ‘Does well in clay soil’ and ‘likes a nice, sandy loam’ are not the same, dear writers!

      1. Likes full sun versus does well in partial shade!
        How much shade is partial? Morning sun and afternoon shade are not the same as morning shade and afternoon sun.

        Or when they claim the shrub will remain a dwarf because it’s very slow growing. But in a hundred years, it will be 50 feet tall! That’s not a dwarf shrub and 100 years will pass!

  4. Today on Thursday we are expecting 72 for a high. Saturday morning they are calling for a low of 23. That’s the Huntsville AL winter weather roller coaster for you. Crocus and daffodils are blooming only to turn black once the hard freeze hits.
    I must before the sustained warm weather trim the overgrown holly bushes hanging over the sidewalk, cut back the way too high blueberry bushes, and transplant a few volunteers in that bed into a new raised bed I’m starting in the back yard. And then work on prepping a second raised bed to be ready for spring planting of tomatoes and green peppers.

  5. Here in Maryland outside our nation’s capital, we have some very warm days. (Cue joke about proximity to hot air.)

    Since all the shade we have prevents me from growing food, I’ve turned to terraforming. I plant native and am ripping out invasives. The joy of doing the latter in February is that you can see them and there are no bugs.

    I’m also trying to hold the neighbor’s Japanese pachysandra at bay, and so put in a root barrier. But now there’s a bare strip between the barrier and their pachysandra. So, I searched around for the hayscented fern I heeled in last fall, and planted it in the borderlands.

    I felt kind of bad for it, putting only six to stand at the wall of invading hordes. “You’re warriors at the ramparts,” I whispered. “Stay strong. I’m bringing reinforcements.”

  6. Let’s see. We’re swinging from 65 to 11 F, with wind chills of “arrrrrrrkkkkkkkkk” (as teeth chatter). Our humidity is so low that the trees are chasing the dogs. So after much consideration, and second and third choices because the southeasterners ordered first, I ordered six new roses to plant this summer. After I see what survives the spring. Our date of average last freeze is late March, but you’re a sucker if you even think of putting out tomatoes before the mesquite blooms (closer to early May.)

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