Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.


Posted on | June 3, 2015 | 1 Comment

Gardening is all about the long run.  The last 2 years we’ve had the best gardens we’ve ever had.  Which is not surprising.  10 years of building the soil plus 10 years of experience along the way eventually starts to pay off.  We finally realized it takes an entire row of snap peas to produce enough peas for a family of 6.  This is the first year we’ve had enough peas to share instead of the kids gobbling up the entire crop in one handful.  It’s only the second year we’ve produced straight carrots, thanks to finally growing them in containers instead of in the ground.  The third year we’ve grown everything for the summer garden from the greenhouse. (Well, almost everything.  Stupid eggplants.)  The fourth year we’ve successfully grown potatoes in straw, both spring and fall.  The fifth year we’ve had crops all year long using row covers and frost cloth.  But sometimes it’s the little accomplishments that are the most enjoyable.

For years I’ve planted cleome in empty tires at the edge of the raised veggie beds.  I spotted a large bed of these flowers when visiting Old Sturbridge one summer and I was trying to recreate the effect.  But every year the flowers struggled.  They had a poor germination rate and the plants that did grow were weak and spindly and only threw up a few flower heads in early fall.  It didn’t make any sense.  How was it warm enough in a colonial village in Massachsuetts but not the right temperature here?  I also had to hunt down the seeds in the store every spring because mine never self-sowed while most gardeners considered them almost invasive.

And then it happened.  Inexplicably, little cleome sprouts were evident in the tires by early May.  There were actually little patches all over the garden.

And now it’s the first week of June and the tires are exploding with so many cleome plants that I need to thin them.

They are already blooming!

I didn’t change anything about how I grew the plants last year and it seems impossible that the few flowers that bloomed produced all these seedlings.  I didn’t change the way I treated the soil—-I always leave the dead stalks in place through the winter and then pull the dry vegetation up, crunching it in my hands, and troweling it back into the dirt.  Apparently it just takes time, people.  Just plain, old, simple time.

By the same token, I rescued orange daylilies growing wild in our ditch when we first moved out here.  I planted them in containers on the deck and in clumps around the property.  Because even though they didn’t flower very much, their green leaves made excellent pot fillers.  Check out this lovely display of lily leaves, Virginia buttonweed, and clover:

Don’t know why Martha never mentions using weeds to fill the container garden on your deck, but it never seems to come up.  However, this year the lilies are on the same page as the cleome.  On June 1st they opened up all over the property.

Maybe 2015 is just the year for lilies.  This is the first time that there hasn’t been a Great Goat Escape into the landscaping in the front yard.  Every spring right before the bulbs bloom they get goat-nibbled.  Last year those punks ate the heads off all the oriental lilies I planted around the pampas grass.  Just the heads.  Just because.

This year they did their walkabout too early to damage anything more than the winter rye.  This year we have this:

I’m telling you, time is a powerful.  I checked on the tomatoes I bought as 3′ tall plants from the farmers market.  I was hoping they weren’t too far ahead of the varieties I grew from seeds in the greenhouse.  Sure enough the plants from the farmers market had little Old Germans….

and tiny Early Girls.

As vigorous as my tomato plants were, I didn’t think they had green tomatoes yet.  They had their first set of blossoms so I didn’t think they were far behind, but it looked like they hadn’t had enough time to catch up.  Until I saw it.  Perfect baby Genuwines.

I guess this year time is on my side.  Except for my 2 year old asparagus plants.  Which are 4 years old and still just send up ferns.

They must be on the 100 year plan.  I hope my great-great-grandkids like asparagus.


One Response to “Timing.”

  1. Sherry Scully
    June 4th, 2015 @ 5:58 am

    I enjoy your blog SO much! I feel like I steal your information and use your confidence when I get down about what is going on in my garden. Thanks!! I have something to share… did you know that you can eat wild daylilies? The tubers are amazing, naturally oily just add S&P and roast in oven. We gave up on our “ferns” and thinking of trying another variety in another location. It has to work since a neighbor has them on the bank of the road! Thanks again for sharing your wisdom. You have pulled me through this rough spring of dry weather and terribly early squash bugs!

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