Our April garden can be summed up in two words: Greens and Weeds.
With long days, abundant rain, and a few stretches of 70+ degree days, the tiny greens sown in March have grown into tender and delicious salads. And we’re still harvesting the spinach and kale that was overwintered under row cover and plastic.
The kale, though going to seed, is still remarkably tender, and the flowers are a fantastic source of nectar for honeybees and other pollinators.
As for the weeds, they are growing faster than I can possibly ever keep up! Thanks to my cousin and his wife helping me in the garden during a recent visit, and Brian and I doing a “power weeding” session, things are looking much better, but I need to get some mulch on these beds, and quickly! One of my strategies for keeping up with weeds is to make sure that they never go to seed in the garden, so early weeding is very important!
You might remember last year’s squash “situation.” We had created new sheet mulch beds with cow barn bedding on cardboard. I threw a few dozen squash seeds in each bed, figuring that I wouldn’t have much success (squash bugs are a beast around here!). Well, a few months later, winter squash plants had taken over a quarter of the garden! We’re still eating squash harvested last October!
These are the same beds, now amazingly composted down into rich, dark soil, and planted in potatoes. The bed closest to the bottom is brand new, but we still planted potatoes into it.
My primary gardening goals this year are: 1) to grow an abundance of storage crops for the root cellar. I’ll be focusing on potatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbage, beets, carrots, turnips, and other root crops, and 2) to grow greens year round. Achieving these goals means appropriating garden bed space for the storage crops, and not growing as many melons, cucumbers, or tomatoes. For the third year, we’ve invested in a local CSA. I really like the model this farmer uses – he offers shares by the week (I purchased an 8-week share), and when you come to the pick-up, you select your own produce, based on what your family will eat in a week. That means I can round out our produce needs and enjoy his beautiful eggplant and peppers, without having to grow everything myself.
Finally, the upper garden is thriving, with fava beans, peas, garlic, and onions. This space was tilled up with a horse plow and rototiller a few years ago, and I find it to be much less weedy than the sheet mulched lower garden. I knew I wanted a very organic and curvy layout for the lower garden, but the straight rows of the upper garden make for easy and efficient food production.
I’d love to hear what’s growing in your April garden. Please share in the comments below!