March 30, 2021

In the Early Spring Vegetable Garden

Egyptian Onions, aka Walking Onions

I love seasons: with each change comes the excitement of the new. Even though spring is the same year after year, it feels as though it's never happened before. As soon as the garden is dry enough to walk through without sinking into mud, my first chore is to go out with a bucket of small stakes and a tape measure and mark out the rows. I am thrilled to watch the new growth, and especially gratifying with food crops. One of the first plants I can harvest are Egyptian onions, which I snip and add to salads and other dishes. Today I added some to my lunchtime coleslaw, using a cabbage that I harvested last fall. 


Garlic bulbs are planted in the fall, and I cover them with a hay mulch. In early spring, I gently move aside the mulch to see if the shoots have emerged. It's an announcement of the start of garden season when those green leaves rise up.


The tiny leaves of sorrel have begun to grow. There are several recipes that I love that use sorrel; I'm fond of its tart flavor. There's a sorrel/onion tart, cream of sorrel soup, potato-sorrel soup.


Chives are another handy herb to have in the garden.

Cold Frame

My hand-made cold frame is rather rickety and crude, but it does the job asked of it. When the soil dries enough to plant, my first sowing of seed is arugula and lettuce in the cold frame. They are very hardy, and the structure keeps it warmer inside to encourage growth during these cool days.

Arugula seedlings

And today I was so happy to see some tiny new arugula seedlings popping up, from a March 24th planting. 

Pea Stakes

I'm getting ready to plant peas: the stakes are placed, and next I'll put up the fencing, for which I use chicken wire. The three taller stakes––with added height from taped-on broom handles––are for snap peas, which are vigorous climbersl. I love the description for planting peas and spinach: "as soon as the ground can be worked". A handful of soil, squeezed between the fingers, should break apart when your hand is opened and not stick together in a muddy clump. A too-wet soil will rot the seeds. 


Rhubarb plants grow to an enormous size so are situated outside the perimeter of the garden. Although we treat rhubarb as a fruit, it's actually a vegetable, so is appropriately included in this post.  What I most love to make with rhubarb is jam, deliciously tart and sweet. 

The first spring vegetable that will appear will be perennial asparagus, but I have to be patient until early to mid May before that tasty treat appears. I have to admit that I've let my flower gardens go to rack and ruin, letting the plants fight it out with the weeds, but my vegetable garden gives me such deep satisfaction that I hope I never have to give it up. 

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