Each spring day, I move about the gardens from task to task by asking the Angels and Elementals to prioritize. They give me a job and gently remind me when I stray from my assignment. This may sound bossy on their part, but they have an overview which I do not have. I bow to their superior wisdom, because if I was trying to prioritize, it would involve making a list of tasks that would overwhelm me and also lack the wisdom the Angels and Elementals assignments have. My main jobs are to be the muscle and have faith in my partners’ guidance. After nearly forty years together, the faith comes easy while the muscle comes a little bit harder.
So far this spring it’s been about seven weeks of trotting from task to task. I appreciate whenever an Angel or Elemental pipes up, “Don’t worry about that right now.” and keeps me focused on the task at hand. BTW this happens every three minutes. I pass a lot of crab grass and unweeded beds this time of year, and I need their confidence I will get to those projects at the right time which is “Not Yet.”
April is usually so cold I wear mittens and a winter hat. Any job I get done seems like a bonus, because April is a month in which reasonable people might stay inside and wait for better conditions. I consider it my secret weapon for May sanity, since anything I get done in April doesn’t have to be done in May. Bundled in my winter gear, I planted a lot of the vegetable garden in April. Crops like Peas, Carrots, Kale, Spinach, Onions, Beets, Arugula, Dill, and Potatoes were planted in April, some during snow flurries.
Usually I expect a month long gap until June before the rest of the vegetables, all frost sensitive, go in. But this year the Angels and Elementals had me start planting these crops in the middle of May. Meanwhile there were other May tasks that I either worked on per guidance or tried not to think about.
If I made lists anymore the one for May would crush my spirit. There is so much to do in the gardens in May that the list would run for pages. Anything that didn’t get cut back in the gardens in the fall, needs to be removed now and added to the compost pile. Every garden needs compost from the oldest compost pile which is now soil. This sounds simple enough, except I have to sift this compost before using it, then wheelbarrow it to the garden to spread on the beds. As I sift the compost, I consider the mystery of how so many clay pot chards and rocks get in the compost pile. I don’t think of myself as composting these things, but there they are. Somebody had to put them on the compost pile, and that somebody would be me. The rich dark soil consoles me from my thoughts about rocks in the pile. I also top dress gardens with organic amendments like lime and kelp.
All the gardens need weeding, edging and mulching. I have already gone through 10 yards of bark mulch delivered this spring. I need to order more. The mulch delivery guy and I always have the same argument about where he drops the mulch. He wants to put it on the spot where staff park. I want him to back his truck further off the driveway. I have been known to cut branches he claims are in the way of his truck while he watches. The negotiation is an annual thing with us. He rolls his eyes, and I roll mine. This year I got him to go as far back as I ever had. He retaliated by leaping from his truck and racing over to my apple and pear trees where he gave me a five minute lecture on the problems with how I prune.
Some gardens are so big they take a few days for me to weed. The Rose Garden is a real handful as the Roses send out suckers that need to be removed. This garden usually gets done first and needs a second weed through as soon as I have finished the other gardens.
Winter damage has to be dealt with. This year that means pruning back almost all the Roses as we had a very bad winter for Roses. Yes, the tense change is intentional. I haven’t pruned the Roses yet. I think that is on the Angels docket for me today, but I won’t know until I pull on my big girl garden pants and get out there and ask.
Yesterday was a big moment. The hoop house was empty, and I could plant the Tomatoes and Cucumbers in its warm interior space. Here is a messy shot of this. I covered the ground with a tarp to keep down the weeds and keep moisture in. I cut out a hole for each plant and dug in compost and soil amendments. The plants should be happy there and the sides are open so bees should pollinate the Flowers. We will see how it goes. This is a new hoop house onlt just coming online in March of this year. We are calling it “the Rex House” for the former staffer who built it for me.
I was free to plant the Tomatoes and Cucumbers because in the past week, plant babies started in February and transplanted into bigger pots in March or April got moved out of the Rex house and into the ground. Well, all except one flat. Hundreds and hundreds of baby plants have gone in the ground the last few days. Just ask my back, and it will tell you I am not exaggerating.
Usually I do not start putting in these babies until June, but this year the Angels and Elementals had me start to plant annuals in the middle of May. We haven’t had a frost since the beginning of the May. In the early years here we often had frosts in early June.
There is so much beauty in a May garden. I admire all that is happening as I trot from task to task. This year it all happened in fast motion or maybe that was just the way it looked because I was always on the run.
Today is overcast. I hope this means rain. It’s been another very dry spring, and the soil is powder dry. As I head out to hear my first assignment, I’ll pause in the greenhouse to water all the tropical plants and remind them they will be outside in their peat moss beds, living in the open air and feeling the rain on their leaves soon, very soon. How soon only the Angels and Elementals know.
Sheba will be at my side of course. Snuffling under tarps, barking at crows, inspecting my every move. I am grateful for every day I get to spend with her on our appointed rounds. I love her so much, and I love our life together in the gardens.
This last shot is of one of the precious souls in my life whom I am encouraging to LOVE gardening. So far, she’s a natural.