Our first spring at our Havenwood Garden has been a lesson and a treat! But aren't all the best gardening stories?! I mapped out the space, planted everything from seed, added two new garden beds and a cold frame as we've welcomed spring this year. At our previous home, I had my micro climate dialed to perfection, so I've been adjusting bit by bit as we figure out this new space this season.
As I got those first seeds in the ground as our last frost FINALLY got the hint and bid adieu, I meticulously followed my garden plan and "knew" where everything was. My little white plastic labels lasted all of five minutes, of course. Who knew permanent marker washes right off those little suckers during April showers? An Instagram friend mentioned using wax pencils instead, so I'll give that a try next.
After what felt like FOREVER, the radishes were finally coming in! But much to my dismay, however, our free ranging chickens were scratching that freshly planted bed like crazy. Lesson learned: you cannot have free-ranging chickens even if you think you shoo them away frequently. It is still not enough. They do not learn. I turned to my husband and desperately pleaded for options. "What do I do?!" Well, for now they stay in the chicken run. They're safer from eagles that way, too. I digress.
I planted what I though would be plenty of radishes to get us through most of spring, but that beautiful bowl full, plus a few strays, were all we managed. I'm still thrilled for them though, those are my first ever homegrown radishes! Spicy and perfect on salads and thrown in most every dinner along the way. In place of the radishes, it looks like I have broccoli raab coming in, so I'm not sure what's going on there. I didn't plant broccoli raab. I did put in regular broccoli on the far side of that bed, but again, I digress. This is an experiment year whether I like it or not, as much as I'd love it to be a full-fledge, perfect 12 months of harvesting garden, let's be realistic.
Thanks to another Instagram friend, I planted a cut-and-come-again style lettuce bed. Giving plenty of space to full heads of lettuce, I wanted those early spring salads with tender young greens, and friends, it has not disappointed. More arugula popped up than anything else, and I was surprised by its strong fragrance and peppery flavor I've heard so much about. Still, my family of four (plus baby who is not yet eating salad greens) has had more than enough to enjoy day after day. If you've never tried this, it's worth it! Even if you have a container on your patio, a small garden bed in your backyard, it takes nothing to sprinkle some seeds in whenever you remember, throw some water on, and watch the magic happen! A real treat in early spring!
Along with tasty radishes and abundant greens, chive blossoms are endless and herbs are filling in lusciously. If gardening is not yet your thing, do yourself the favor of picking up a few pots and planting some perennial herbs. The effort is almost none and they return year after year, supplying fresh and beautiful herbs. Just throw them in with your meals in place of dried spices and you'll never want to go back. I take a small bundle of each and make herbed biscuits, pure heaven! Even if you don't dry and store them over winter, they're attractive to flower and keep out for your viewing pleasure.
Aside from the few spring harvests, we have strawberries growing like crazy (YES!), corn has popped up, squash, melons, tomatoes, garlic from last fall, kale, peas, greens, raspberries, blueberries, and carrots. I'm perpetually feeling like I'm behind, and failing for the season, but I don't let this feeling get the best of me, I just get outside the next day and plant what I can.
This gardening journey has grown so much over the past six years and while I know I've learned so much, I still have a long way to go. It can be overwhelming, but the reward is so worth it to just start where you are with what you have.
Happy spring and happy hardening!