Strawberries, starting seeds, and other Spring updates

Spring is here! Some of the tulips we planted in January are starting to pop up! I was starting to think they were going to be a no show, so it was a very exciting find. We also planted some strawberries and found one of the biggest earthworms I’ve ever seen.

Last fall I cut the runners off of my strawberries and planted those into buckets of dirt.  I wasn’t too sure where they would go in the spring so we put the buckets next to the house with a bunch of leaves over them to protect them.  We made sure that they stayed wet through the winter and had to water them a few times. They seemed to survive well so I went ahead and moved them to their new spot today. 

They are going around a couple of Plout trees and a Shipova pear tree.  I'm hoping they'll fill out this year to create a nice border around this bed.  The bed is also right along a main path to the veggie garden, so it will be a perfect spot to grab a snack. To plant these I dug up the grass, used a pitch fork to aerate the ground, moved the strawberries into the new dirt with a little bit of compost. I also added wet newspaper all around the plant and mulched over the newspaper with wood chips. 

I've been trying to work on garden tasks a little bit each day.  Some days I get more done than others and that's okay.  Last week we were able to get a load of dirt (9 cubic yards) to fill in the side yard a bit.  Thank goodness my dad was willing to bring his tractor over for a day to help us move the dirt! It would have taken us a couple months worth of wheel barrow loads to move all of that dirt.  We were trying to lessen the slope of the hill and also cover up the roots of the pine tree that was once there.  My plan is to use this as a garden bed.  I'm going to try planting the three sisters again this year and other veggies, herbs and flowers. We used split wood from the pine tree to create a sort of terraced retaining wall to hold some of the dirt back.

I've also started a bunch of seeds.  I've tried to start seeds in a lot of different ways in the past.  This year we are using the front porch because is gets the most sun and its protected from wind and rain.  I'll keep the containers outside and when it dips to freezing or below freezing at night, I'll drape plastic over everything.  One down side is that this spot almost gets too much sun.  It dries out the egg cartons quickly.  I've had to water some things a couple times a day to be sure they're staying wet.  The advantage to this spot is that its very conveniently located and I can keep an eye on everything through out the day. 

Over the seasons, I gather as many seeds as I can.  The flowers are the easiest.  In this box I have sunflowers, zinnias, and marigolds.  I'll let the flower dry out on the stem and then either cut or pluck off the head.  I left the sunflowers on for a long time so the birds could get their share of the seeds too.  I'll simply leave them in a box or a brown paper bag for the winter.  As long as they're stored in a dry location (I keep mine in a cabinet in our basement) then they'll be good for next season.  For veggie and fruit seeds, I'll clean the seeds off a bit and place them in a coffee filter or tea bag filter to dry out.  I make sure to label the filter before I put in any wet seeds.  Once dry, the seeds will go to my seed box in a cool dry storage spot in the basement.

I also wanted to mention the no-till garden bed I have right by the front porch.  As I said, this area is south facing and get the most sun out of anywhere in our yard.  I've tried to grow peas in several locations at this place, and have yet to have any luck.  This year I went for the front yard.  Over the winter I slowly covered this patch of grass.  I aerated the ground with a garden fork first, placed cardboard over the grass and then a thick layer of wood chips over the top.  When it was time to start the peas, I separated the mulch to make a row.  In one area I used the garden fork to punch holes into the cardboard and soil.  In another area I used a garden knife to cut a slit into the wet cardboard with a garden knife.  In both cases, I added a little bit of compost and then planted my pea seeds.  It took a little over two weeks for them to sprout, but they did!  When I wasn't seeing anything at two weeks, I pulled the cardboard open 2-3" and they popped right out after that.  I could see where they had started but they couldn't quite find their way out to the sun just yet.  I'll have a bit of grass to deal with since I opened up the cardboard more, but I'm glad I did.  We'll see how they go from here, but I'm very excited for my first true attempt at a no-till garden bed. Of course, I'm also very excited to finally get some peas! 

Lastly, I'll mention my fall plantings.  I left a lot of my fall plantings in the ground just to see how they would do over the winter.  I covered the carrots in a layer of mulch and we would occasionally pull some up to eat. Today we pulled ten or so and they tasted super sweet and fresh.  I covered my spinach with a double layer of garden fabric when we started to get snow.  It is doing better now than it did in the fall and it tastes really wonderful. To my surprise, I have done nothing to the broccoli and it continues to grow!  It stopped growing through the snow and the coldest part of winter but that was it.  

I hope you all have been enjoying the warmer weather as much as we have.  If you have any questions about what I'm growing or how, please reach out! I'd be happy to talk through anything.  Cheers, and happy Spring!



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