It's that time of year again (finally) when every possible moment is spent outside planting, pruning, fertilizing, mulching, and whatever else it takes to prepare our yard and gardens for the season of growing. We purchased four more apple trees ( McIntosh, Wolf River, Russet, and Honeycrisp) for our small, yet ever-growing orchard. Two more grape vines, ten raspberry bushes, and two elderberries were added to our fruit bearing group. The garden soil has been tilled and organic matter, from our three year old pile of composted manure, was added. How rewarding it was to finally dig into the rich mound of worm-filled, black compost!
I'm ahead of the game this year, as far as planting goes, because I usually don't begin until Memorial Day weekend, but everything except the cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and a few other tender seedlings have been planted, with the radishes, arugula, and other lettuces already poking up through the ground. I have, again, switched things up a bit in the gardens. The cucumbers did poorly last year (and the three years before that), so I am going back to my original method of laying down black plastic to warm the soil before planting and covering the seeds with row cover until the plants have blossomed. When I used this method, I picked bushels of cukes and made more pickles than we could eat in a year. I wish I had never stopped using this method, but in an attempt to find better ways of gardening, I had to experiment...oh, well! I am hoping for a bumper crop of cukes this year. I planted onion seedlings this year instead of sets because I didn't have much success with the sets, and all the farmers and gardeners that I have spoken to said seedlings are the best way to go so... I'm giving seedlings a try. The tomatoes will be grown in a different garden this year as well as the corn, and I'm dedicating more space to beans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage. I'm excited about the changes I have made, and I'm hoping they are ones that help fill our bellies, freezers, and pantry shelves.
I love this time of year. Everything is so alive...the flowers are blooming; the trees are budding and are alive with the activity of returning birds; the cliff swallows have come back to their nests under the eaves; the "peepers" fill the evening air with their music, and a bittern calls for a mate from the nearby pond. It is such a lovely time of year, and I want to soak up every bit of it I can.