Spring is here and things are getting underway here at Runamuk Acres in Anson, Maine! With all this sun and heat, the snow is gone from the backyard and the ground is drying up; I should be able to start cleaning up the upper garden soon–and what a mess it is! Last fall when the growing season what coming to an end I just abandoned the garden–thinking that we were a shoo-in for a home loan and that we wouldn’t be here this spring to deal with the mess. How wrong I was!
Now I’m going to have to clear the debris from this upper garden and it’s going to be a bit of an undertaking. There are spent and dried plant stalks, the boughs from this winter’s “Solstice Tree”, bags of top-soil, last year’s pea-trellis, and all manner of left-over materials just left behind in the garden last autumn. It really looks atrocious, and as a master gardener I am ashamed that I left my garden looking like this.
But what’s done is done.
The great thing about my gardening method is that it is built up into blocks, which enables me to move around the garden block by block to clean it up and to plant. This year with the CSA I’m planning on using this upper garden for all of our early spring crops: spinach, lettuces, all of the brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, etc.), and peas.
Already the first round of lettuce and brassicas are growing well in their Kord pots and I’ve moved them from under the lights in the dinning room to the bench in the mudroom at night, and outside in the sunshine during the day. I’ve got Green-Sprouting Calabrese broccoli and Copenhagen Market cabbage, and they love the cool weather so they’re very happy plants.
Keith is going to be putting together a mini hoop-house made pf PVC and plastic, which will enable me to plant these cold crops fairly early, and once they’re well underway, I will simply move the mini hoop-house over the next crop–probably spinach or swiss chard. Keith is also gearing up to build a number of raised beds with some of his father’s left-over hemlock lumber, which–if you look closely at the picture of the garden and backyard–you can see in the distance there. Hopefully we’ll use it all up and then I can get that pile out of the middle of my backyard, since I intend to extend the lower garden into that space.
All of the tender crops (like the 17 varieties of tomatoes, a variety of peppers, herbs and flowers) are taking up space in my dinning room area with shelving and lighting. I had to re-plastic this grow-rack I had bought about 5 years ago, and my all-time favorite tool came into play: Duct-Tape! (anyone remember the Duct-tape car???) But it came out looking not horrible, and it’s working wonders for all of the sprouting tomatoes and peppers. I just move them out of the grow-house once 75-80% of the sprouts are up so as to prevent fungal diseases, since there is no ventilation inside. I keep a fan blowing air across the seedlings under the lighting–there’s nothing worse than loosing seedlings to dampening-off, mold, or other such fungal diseases.
As we move into April and approach the dead-line for our CSA sign up (not that I wouldn’t take late-comers!), I’m looking forward to the up-coming growing season and the challenges that will come with a higher rate of production. I’ve made charts for greenhouse sowing, transplant dates, direct-seed sowing dates, I’ve got my approximate yield estimates, and I feel as prepared as I can be as I plunge into unknown territory. And so–here we go!