Today was another wonderful day outside. I found my first bloom of the season, a Johnny Jump Up and it was a warm, sunny day to work in the garden. I can't turn the soil over yet. The upper bed where my peas are going to go is still frozen. The middle bed is mostly frozen, but thawing nicely. The bottom bed is almost thawed, but it is still too wet to turn over yet.
So instead of turning over the soil. I dealt with trying to warm up the beds. The top bed was quick. I just threw down clear plastic flat on the earth and snow. Yes parts of it still have snow even after two weeks of melt out time. Sigh.
The bottom bed is going to be where the solanaceae family will be growing, ie my tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplant and tomatillos. Most of the bed won't be needed for quite some time, but I'm going to grow carrots here and there during different parts of the growing season. So I measured out the bed. I measured four feet in to mark off the potato section, which will be the first of the solanaceae family to go in, but not yet. Then I measured off 2 1/2' for my pineapple tomatillos. They are supposed to be sprawling plants that get 3' across. I'll plant them a tad closer to the potatoes and hopefully they will be out before the tomatillos need the space.Next was the 40" space for my eggplants. The rest of the bed, about 13-14 feet, is for my non-potted tomatoes and peppers.
I had to measure it out because I want to start early carrots down the middle of where the tomatillos and eggplant will be. That middle area I wanted to heat up quickly so I can put carrots there as soon as possible. Carrots means digging the bed deeply. The soil has to be very workable. I have heavy clay and if I don't turn it over before planting, I don't get carrots. I put a clear plastic tunnel in. I'm going to use it to as a cold frame to harden off my onions and lettuce (they got their first taste of freedom today) and it will also warm up the soil and keep the rain off.
The middle bed was where all my over wintered plants were. Or mostly dead plants as the case may be. There are a few that survived the winter. The lettuce that I talked about earlier is looking worse than it did before, but two are still alive. If I get early lettuce, it has a better chance of coming from the seedlings that I'm hardening off.
I found three bunching onions. Little tiny things as they were quite young when winter hit. One tatsoi is announcing "Not dead yet!", but the reality is that it is on its last legs (pun always intended - really who couldn't use a bad pun in their lives?). Everything else is dead, dead, dead, but one surprise. It was the last thing I expected to over winter. It was my Chinese cabbage.
Chinese cabbage is hardy? Whodda thunk it? It may go the way of the over wintered lettuce and die as its roots thaw out. Or not. Time will tell. However I took all the plastic off the beds. It is in the high 50s today and with plastic that is just too hot. I fixed up the collapsed tunnel (which was hard to do since this bed is still half frozen) and replaced it with remay. I left the part with the onions and lettuce bare.
The major thing I noticed was that my three sisters garden will be mostly bare since most of the overwintered greens are dead. I thought a quick crop of spinach might be nice. I have seed for my whole garden but didn't order spinach. It usually doesn't grow well here. It bolts before it gives me much. I have a street light right outside the garden and always wondered if that was the cause. But hey, I had such good luck with my Asian greens last year and they usually don't do well in my garden either. I'm going to try it again. The local hardware store had only one type, Melody, so that is what I'm going to plant. I might just get lucky this year.