April 2018 in Soteria Garden.

Plant Smiles.

Grow Laughter.

Harvest Love.

Here we are mid April and as everyone else in the country suffers still from snow and cold we here in the Pacific Northwest are suffering in the late April rains and sunny warmish afternoons. Still getting those pesky winds but really, we suffer for those May flowers that are just a mere six to seven inches out of the ground.

As with every Spring new seeds get planted. Last years goal of trying to plant and harvest at least nine crops per box was a complete success so this year will be its encore. Looking forward to the warm days ahead and the seeds starting to sprout.

Early in January I pulled off the mission of planting some of those tough, long suffering, take-forever-to-grow seeds for the PNW and put them in a bed of duck straw under glass. Recently, upon inspection, I see that there are a few green sprouts popping up through the soil. Mostly the squash plants but we are hoping for life out of those pepper and tomato seeds!

My hope still lies eternal on seeing the tomatoes and peppers but if all of those fail I’m ok with it. We did have some pretty heavy freezes that even rotting duck poop and straw may not be able to keep them warm. But I still have hope. Probably a downfall but that hope always comes creeping in.

In the pictures above you will see two boxes built with recycled wood, because that’s how we have rolled since the beginning and a couple of old skylights. Personally, I like the look and the way the function so well together. The perfect winter fashion right outside the tiny house door. Unfortunately these two boxes will be moved into the large fenced area and continue to be used as seed starters for a section of six boxes.

Seeds have been planted in the beds themselves with the timing of getting ahead start in those 9 crops. The earliest seedlings to pop up but not through the straw in the beds are the beets. Four different varieties have made it to four different beds. I like variety. One plant multiple flavors! Of course these are planted at the base of what will be the tomato boxes, rotated out just in the nick of time for some greens to go in and be well shaded by the tomato plants.

Each box or set of boxes has a different pattern that the seeds are planted in. Of course each set of six boxes also gets rotated the with the crops each year. With now four sets of six boxes we can easily rotate crops without hesitation or pulling soil out! Last years tomato boxes are now planted with the peas, wheat, cucumbers, spinach and bush beans. Last years corn and squash boxes are planned for this years tomato pattern. A whole two new sets of boxes are planted with the corn and it’s companions while the other is filled with onions, carrots, pumpkins, collards and barely … to name a few.

Everything planted from seed this year. No cheating and running off to the garden center/grocery store for starts. I’m trying to be more faithful to the seed. It’s not really cheating I get that but the struggle of timing has always alluded me. So here I am learning. I find this is forcing more patience. Not much of a waiter when I rush off to get starts but here I am learning a new label for myself: waiter. I am a waiter.

The only thing I have done different this year to the beds is added our duck poop straw to the soils. Last fall oats, wheat and barley were planted for cover crops which turned the soil a stunning color of black on the first three inches!! This made me very happy. So far all traces of the oats and wheat have been left in the beds to rot away. Or so I thought. The wheat is growing beautifully and looks like it just may be happy mixed in with the spinach, bush beans and peas! We shall see how it all washes out in the end.

We are not Territoral Seed snobs but we were blessed last fall with left overs from a very generous person so we are using last years seed to get the garden started with.

Enough about the veggies.

Every gardener knows that the flowers are the show stoppers. Admit it. You know it’s true. Who walks into the garden and exclaimes “how lovely the spinach looks this time of year”! Right!? No one. Well maybe Niki Jabbour or Bren Haas but those two don’t really count. I say smiling ?

Yet again I have found a couple of bags of pure joy at the garden center. Totally excited to see these ladies pop up from the soil. I am becoming a dahlia freak! Does that mean I’m getting old or more wise? I’m going with wise. Of course, there are other plants that have made there way home so far and they include a couple new bleeding hearts ( gotta fill in some empty spaces in my big red pots ) dahlias as you see above, and a new rose. I’m a sucker for the thorny ones.

Most of the big giant red pots that hang out in front of the tiny house are filled to the brim with a few of my favorites. I will get pictures of those as the season moves on but for now know that the yellow peonies are up and fully up right, the echinacea are greening up at their bases and Joey the big beautiful rose bush is in full leaf! Now to keep the deer off them.

enough about the flowers.

To sustain and round out the balance of the food garden in the most productive way we can’t forget the biggest and most important part to any garden that will feed a small army, yes, the fruit trees. What we are seeing right now are bud and a few leaves. The quince is leading out nicely and the newly planted grafted cherry tree looks like it’s doing great with new life bursting out. Along the north fence line a couple new pear and plum grafted trees went in. Last fall, two elderberry trees and two choke berry trees were planted. I can’t imagine any more trees going into the space but if there’s a will there is a way … right?

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