No Garden This Year

I've witnessed some expressions of shock when I tell friends I am not planting a vegetable garden this year! The key word here is "vegetable" - I have plenty of gardens outside of the 20' x 40' plot we've dedicated to annual veggies for several years. In fact, I've been working for the last 3 months cleaning up winter leaves and old growth from my "other" gardens! (One reason why I haven't posted here in so long.)

The vegetable garden is not being planted because it is being renourished this year. Since I've been doing year-round gardening for several years, we suspected its nutrients had been depleted and got a soil test done by the cooperative extension service. My 2013 veggie garden was disappointing (for many reasons, but weak soil is likely one). If you are a recent follower to this blog, you can look at the 2011 archives - during that year I posted my vegetable garden activity month-by-month for all 12 months. With stuff planted all the time, it's a challenge to find time for a good work-over. That's why we made the tough decision to keep the vegetable garden empty for a while.
Mushroom compost delivery

So we dumped a 10 ton load of compost from the local mushroom factory on the vegetable garden in December, spreading the mulch to cover the garden area, and then rota-tilled it in. Then I spread buckets of chicken manure, from my friend Susan's gorgeous egg-layers… a great source of nitrogen. Both the mushroom compost and chicken manure are too "hot" and strong until they have time to compost into the existing soil.

Some of Susan's lovely hens who contributed manure!
The next layer was dried leaves from the huge variety of hardwoods I raked off my other gardens, which will compost and decay, adding more nutrients. Once the weather warms up, we'll do a "soil solarization," covering the garden with clear plastic for 30+ days to help kill off blight and other soil-borne pathogens. I am also planning to add some worms and do some "green" manure planting… a crop which will add nitrogen and good stuff back into the soil, instead of depleting its nutrients. Hopefully, this will all result in a great vegetable garden next year.

Meanwhile, my cold frame has produced oodles of kale, lettuce, spinach and parsley through the cold season. Onions and garlic planted in the fall are green and healthy. The wild chickweed was abundant this winter - a great addition to salads and smoothies. My other recent garden activities have included planting a new asparagus bed in my edible front yard, transplanting additional wildflowers to the trailside wildflower garden I started on our "Darla Trail" last year, cleaning/pruning/feeding and other tasks on the many many perennial flowers, herbs, berries, fruit trees, and other plants I have going strong. I love springtime and gardening gives me a great excuse to use some of my "free time" in the beautiful outdoors. Go plant something yourself!

The edible front yard is growing fabulously - strawberries and blueberries are now flowering!