How does your garden grow? Minnesota doesn’t seem to appreciate all the effort we put into Spring planting. Our Zone 4 official planting day is around May 15th each year. Last year saw a hard frost descend a few days following setting out my tender starts. This past week gave us daily 40-degree temps and nearly 8 inches of rain. This, after a hot, dry, 90-degree weekend.
Everything in our garden is waterlogged and stunted. My tomatoes and peppers barely survived and will take weeks to regain their composure.
Sweet corn appears to be rotting in the soil, and carrots, lettuce, and beets are mostly washed away. They never stood a chance. The biggest drawback to Back to Eden Gardening I’ve found is that under heavy rains the woodchips will fall down over rows you have just seeded, preventing sprouting. With average rainfalls of <1″ per week and temps in the mid-70’s this time of year, that is rarely a problem. But the last two years have seen abundant rains (8″ last week!) and 30-degree below normal temps. That combo just isn’t conducive to growing annuals.
The crops that don’t seem to mind much are the perennials: raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and asparagus. Except for the blueberries which lost most of their fruiting flowers during the strong winds, these have all fared well. Perennials are deep-rooted enough to withstand the harshest surface conditions (like Minnesota Winters).
I am researching hoop houses now to cover the entire garden. It may be too late this year, but with May being such an important–and unpredictable–month weather-wise, it would make a significant difference to create some shelter from the storm.
Spring has arrived about 6 weeks early in Minnesota this year. That’s not to say winter won’t stop by again, but today is the 3rd day in a row of 60+ temps and will be the last day snow can be seen on our property. Even the grass is starting to green up!
Spring is always welcome here. However, Spring on a Hobby Farm means lots of work! And I’m not fully ready to come out of hibernation yet.
The seedlings are planted and growing well: tomatoes, broccoli (which Becca says she wants every week of the summer), lettuce, and a variety of flowers.
The chickens are laying abundantly, after about a 5-month hiatus during the coldest months.
All the maple trees are tapped and flowing a full 3 weeks ahead of season. I just hauled in 5 more gallons of sap after taking this picture. 30 gallons collected so far, waiting to be evaporated.
Since the sap is flowing, it is also the best time of year to graft trees. I made my first attempt, grafting a branch from a HoneyGold apple tree onto the MacIntosh nearby. The yellow HoneyGold was one of a few trees we planted without ever knowing how the fruit would taste. It turned out be delicious! Like a cross between a pear and an apple, but the texture of a HoneyCrisp. Needless to say, we want more HoneyGold and a simple way to expand the supply is to graft onto another tree.
If successful, the MacIntosh will be bearing both red and yellow apples!
Our baby chicks, Cocoa and Clove, were born 2 weeks ago and are growing fast! In fact they are quickly outgrowing their brooder and we’re now looking for a bigger box.
We try to give them time each day outside the box to stretch their legs and flap their tiny wings.
It will probably be another month indoors. The other chickens will be properly introduced after the snow melts and there’s plenty of space for everyone.
Spring is coming, though! Temps reached about 50 degrees today and everyone was outdoors to enjoy it.