The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

March 11 garden

Early spring rain

In early March, the grass is just barely starting to grow and there's not very much to see yet in the garden. But, despite the brownness of winter, this is still a pivotal time of the growing year. Not only am I making new beds like the one shown here, I'm also planting annuals and nurturing perennials.

Spring garlic

On the list for the month --- weeding around the garlic, which is starting to grow like gangbusters now that the serious cold has fled. A newspaper layer beneath the straw did a great job keeping weeds at bay everywhere except around the plants themselves. But it's still better to yank that dead nettle before it goes to seed!

Chickens preparing new ground

Other overwinterers won't be around long, so I'll wait to deal with weeds until it's time for the next crop. Above, you can see the tiny bit of kale that survived the winter under a quick hoop. Now exposed to spring rains, the leaves are slowly but surely beginning to grow again.

Overwintering cabbageThe cabbage shown to the left was more of a surprise. I can't recall whether it was just a small plant that didn't have time to head up last fall or a plant that resprouted after I harvested the main head. Either way, it accidentally got covered by a quick hoop due to its proximity to the parsley. And when I took off the cover, the crucifer started to regrow. I guess we'll have one ultra-early cabbage this year!

Spreading compost

Most of my attention, though, is focused on March, April, and May plantings. To that end, I'm spreading various types of compost on spring beds. I'm not 100% happy with any of my homegrown compost...yet. But that's okay because a little extra time in the dirt works wonders toward mitigating high-nitrogen chicken bedding and high-carbon garden-weed compost. Here, I'm topdressing beds that won't be planted until the first of May, giving the compost plenty of time to mellow in the interim.

New green grass

This final shot shows the results of my February garden-redesign campaign. I shoveled all the good dirt from shady beds to make one long new bed on the left side of the photo in an area that enjoys full sun. The topsoilless areas in the foreground will be seeded in oats and clover so goats can enjoy a nibble as I work in the garden.

There are a few more areas I want to redesign too. But now that spring is here, I suspect those beds won't be remade until the fall. Oh well, my garden is now and always a work in progress!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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How wide are the hoop beds and how high are the hoops?
Comment by NaYan Mon Mar 14 08:59:34 2016
I wouldn't be surprised if that cabbage goes to seed. They are biannuals, and it should flower and go to seed in its second year.
Comment by Anonymous Mon Mar 14 09:31:33 2016
While you're at it (and since you're a beekeeper) plant some spearmint for your bees. It is a naturally available source of a valuable essential oil which will help keep them healthy and reduces varroa mite activity. The menthol in the spearmint oil is what seems to do the trick. Plus, it is just a total hoot to watch the bees going nuts on the spearmint plants in the fall. Mints are invasive, so be careful where you plant so they don't take over the farm.
Comment by Tim Inman Mon Mar 14 09:53:25 2016

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