April 17, 2016

The Intense Pleasure of the Early Spring Garden

How glorious it is to be outdoors in weather that is finally sunny and mild, and to begin to work in the vegetable garden! It is beautiful to see the early growth of bulbs planted last fall: tulips and garlic. I feel a deep sense of satisfaction looking at them, and this feeling is especially keen when there is so little evidence thus far of growth, except for the Egyptian onions and the robust weeds.

My first job was to march around the garden with my wheel hoe, slicing off the many weeds that spread across the soil. I then raked them up into piles and carted them off as fill in the various holes left during the winter by the road crew. I love the spare look of the early garden; it's the look of promise.

While I worked the wood frogs were singing accompaniment in the pond, making their joyous quacking mating noise. In the video above you can hear the sound. When I first lived here I thought there were ducks on the pond even though I couldn't see them. I was very confused and it took me several days to realize the sound came from frogs: the wood frog.
*If the video doesn't work in the email of this blog post, click on the title of the post above to go to the post online where you can see and hear it.

When I finished neatening up the soil, my next chore was to put up the pea fence. I had planned my rows a few days ago, marking them with small sticks, so now I put up the stakes for the fence––3 feet high for the 25 foot row of shell peas; and 6 feet high, with another foot or so added with broom handles for the 9 feet of sugar snap peas––and then rolled out the chicken wire to attach to it. Planting the peas will be next....and the spinach, which goes in a double row next to the snap peas. You can see the string I use to mark the rows; that's where the spinach will go. These crops are very hardy so can be planted when there's still a chance of hard frost.

Wood frogs weren't the only creatures adding delight to my day; there were also lots of chickadees flitting about, and resting on the chicken wire pea fence. They are friendly little birds. They're attracted to the garden because of the peanut butter I've placed inside aluminum foil packets and wrapped around the garden's electric fence. This is my method to discourage deer and small animals such as woodchucks, raccoons, and skunk, who will get stung if they try to get a taste of that delicious, highly scented treat. But birds hanging on the fence are not grounded, so they don't get a shock. They eventually finish off all the peanut butter and I have to replace it, but I don't begrudge them their nice little meal.

Another early spring chore is to finish up the compost pile I was building and start another one; I have three going: one that's cooking, one I'm building, and one that I'm using. I put a layer of soil over the one that will be cooking, then some hay, and I then cover it all with chicken wire because I have a problem with skunks getting in the compost and tossing it about. This is another satisfying aspect of the garden: turning food and garden waste into rich fertilizer and soil amendment for the newly growing plants.

The first greens from the garden are these perennial Egyptian onions; they come up each spring brightly green and with a crisp onion flavor. I cut some for my midday soup and they will flavor my boughten organic dinner salad. The anticipation of the harvests to come is delicious....and in just about another month: asparagus! Working in the sun, smelling the spring air, hearing the frogs and birds, knowing that the work will lead to large harvests of healthy, tasty vegetables: what a life affirming activity!


  1. So happy to hear your love of gardening and growing food, like we have here in Jersey. Who would have thought us Brooklynites would have become this

  2. Replies
    1. You're welcome, JBS. It's inspiring to me too.

  3. I loved reading, seeing and hearing your joy in gardening. I share this passion for the soil and in spite of a knee that does not want to bend today I am looking forward to planting lettuce, seeds and some herbs. I bought tomato plants, even though I know it is too early, so will surround them with plastic water tubes. The weather is perfect and I feel my sleeping nature spirit coming back to life.

    1. It's so wonderful to be out there planting, isn't it?