Monday, March 12, 2007

Let the spring garden begin!

Yesterday I kicked off the spring garden season by planting allium seedlings. I started these several weeks ago and they were more than ready to go. I trimmed the tops, some of which were close to six inches, and got down to business.

I have planted purchased onion seedlings in the past and have always been particularly charmed by them. Each is a tiny replica of the mature plant complete with tiny green shoots, a miniature bulb and long wiry roots. They would be at home in some diminutive bowl on a miniature kitchen table in a dollhouse.

This appeal probably explains my inability to discard even one seedling. This is usually not a problem but the King Sieg leek germination must surely have been 100%. And each and every one is now in the ground. The allotted space was not big enough to accommodate all the seedlings so I planted them at a 2 inch spacing. Barbara Damrosch, in her classic The Garden Primer, recommends this planting because it allows early harvest of the younger leeks, giving the correct spacing for the mature plants. But I bet I will still be pulling leeks this time next year! I should probably start searching for leek recipes now.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Visiting the garden

Gardening at a community garden has many advantages and a few drawbacks. But one of these drawbacks has a silver lining.

Because my plot is not outside the back door my visits this winter have been infrequent. Before last Saturday I had not been to the garden for several weeks. At that time I had spread the last leaves on one remaining bed and checked the garlic and shallots for signs of shoots. These beds I had mulched with a thick layer of leaves when I planted the sets in late fall. I poked around in the leaves and saw only one tiny green shoot. When the weather turned back to winter I imagined the garlic and shallots in their mulched beds, snug under the snow and basically dormant, waiting to emerge when the sun finally came to stay for a while.

And here’s the silver lining.

We were blessed with a sunny day last Saturday. The soil was still too saturated to work but I couldn’t resist a trip to the plot, if only to imagine what might be growing there in a scant few months. I was completely and pleasantly surprised to see healthy 4 inch garlic shoots and the beginning of shallots sprouting. Every garlic set had sprouted and grown (Big John’s Garden quality does it again!) during my absence.