April 2018 Garden Notes: April Showers, Wedding Flowers

The Equinox passed at the end of the month, so even though we’ve been talking about it for a while now, it is officially spring in the valley. A wet spring. We can’t complain about the recent rain, although we’re now behind on the weeding. There’s something magical about the rain, the way it soaks in slow and deep, bringing minerals and nourishment to the roots of plants, and washing dust from the leaves. The plants gleam with health, beaded with raindrops and at home in the rain as a human can never be, no matter how we might adore the season. We take it in nonetheless, as best we can with eyes and tongue, tasting rain on the skins of fresh peas, cold crunch in the morning, or dressed up for salads with asparagus and dandelion and citrus and salt.

We plant potatoes in the rain, layer hay and alfalfa over the cut pieces of Russet potatoes that we have dipped in fir sawdust to minimize mold. As the plants grow, we’ll keep burying the vines in compost and barnyard rakings, so that the stems will swell into more potatoes. The hay scraps trap moisture, making a nice moist environment for the sprouting spuds. Russets aren’t the fanciest potato at the party, but they’re solid, rich and flavorful, and good keepers too.

Onion sets got tucked in the ground, too, the leftovers from sets that didn’t sell earlier in the season. We’d say it’s getting late to plant onions by set, but who knows what the weather is up to these days; we tuck them in and wish them well. If nothing else, they make a spectacular flower, a large purple firework atop a sturdy, tall stalk. Sets of shallot and garlic, and starts of leek that we planted 2 months ago are swelling up nicely. No scapes yet, but the greens are that lovely frosty seafoam color, and they look marvelously happy with the weather, too. Beets that we planted from seed in late fall grew slow and steady to be ready for harvest now, finally, in the spring; they’re not huge but they are perfect, round and sweet and dark, dark red.

I’ve tucked kale leaves into a bouquet before, it’s true, (and have you seen the gorgeous color of the tree kale near the veggie gate on Highway 9? The cold made the richest deep purple hue, traced with magenta; it’s spectacular) but we have never yet found a way to use beets in a bouquet. It's too bad, because that color would match our Renee’s wedding color scheme quite well. Dark maroon and buff and ivory and pale peach, and we’ll be tailoring the summer flowers in the garden this year to augment her bouquets. Sweet peas and scabiosa and Nigella and dark bachelors buttons, all sweet country flowers in deep, rich shades to grace the tables for a midsummer wedding feast. All this rain can only help the seedlings and seeds we’ve planted already; the cool, rainy, bright days are fuel for rich vegetative growth, and by the time it comes to bloom and be harvested for the event, the plants should be tall and healthy and heavy with blooms. As much as I rhapsodize about fresh snap peas, I’ve given over valuable trellis space to the sweet peas; not for eating, but the scent of those blooms are so sweet, as sweet as only spring can be, and they provide another kind of nourishment, to eye and nose and heart, and memories in years to come. 

Over to You

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