May!

The temperatures are finally warming up around here (hurray!), and our focus is turning more fully to getting the garden up and running.  This is our first big food garden, and I’m so excited!  It’s also our first full year cycle in the Cowichan Valley, though, so we’ve been learning about frost dates (later than I would like) and night-time temperatures (too cold!) and when to start planting everything.  Although I’ve bought a few herb seedlings from the local nursery, all the veggies are being started from seed–also a new experience.  Seeds take a long time to sprout!

Lessons so far:

  • Plant More:  for some reason, when I was doing early garden planning, I got worried about having too much food.  I know, I know–ridiculous!  But everyone talks about how productive even a single plant on the balcony can be; I was afraid to overdo it.  Now that I can see some plants starting to come up, some getting eaten by critters, and some seeds not germinating at all, and how much spinach comes out of a linear foot, I get it.  Next year I will plant more, and if I need to thin more, so be it. 🙂
  • Overwintering Veggies Rock! While the peas I started in February and March are getting bigger now, finally, I now see how slowly even cold weather crops grow in late winter/early spring.  My overwintered fava beans, though, are HUGE and flowering nicely, and we’ve had a giant cauliflower that we’ve been eating away at for a month.  My overwintered broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage bolted early (too warm under the cold frames?  Not enough water?), but we still loved eating the shoots, buds, leaves, and even flowers.  All of that from a few late seedlings that I took a chance on just after we moved in as the fall was starting.  Clearly, overwintering is the secret to eating out of the garden almost year-round.  I’m planning a big winter garden this time!
  • Water is important.  In the winter and early spring, we get LOTS of rain in these parts.  But it’s amazing how after April hits, even though it might be cold, cloudy, and stormy, the water really starts to dry up.  We haven’t had more than 1mm in the last couple of weeks–the summer drought may already be here.  I finally clued in, a few weeks ago, that my little seeds might be so slow or not germinating at all, or that little seedlings were stunted, because they were thirsty.  I’ve been watering consistently now, but by hand, and I know that’s not thorough enough every time.  So we’re working on irrigation…

We’re on a steep learning curve and loving it, but some niggling questions remain unanswered:  anyone out there know why the edges of many of our plants’ leaves are turning yellow?  Raspberries, the male kiwi, some roses, and this morning I noticed one of the lemon balms…The raspberries look like iron deficiency, so I added compost (the internet says that organic matter helps the plants to absorb the iron that’s in the soil–if it’s on the net it must be true, right?!).  Some vigorous growth, but still lots of yellow.  Lime?  Water?  Time?  Thoughts?  Help? Please?

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