spring is such an exciting time of year. Its like a fresh beginning and feels so hope full.
A huge part of my simple lifestyle is working in my garden. Not only does growing your own food provide a sense of accomplishment gardening in general provides a general sense of well being. Being outside and getting my hands dirty helps me connect with the earth and I am able to releive the stress of our modern world from my mind. When I am out working with plants and dirt in the fresh air I loose all sense of time and get completely lost in the moment. There are other honorable mentions of gardening as well such as being more connected and taking enjoyment in wildlife along with exercise.
with warmer temperatures and more rain growth explodes from the earth this time of year.
Things are starting to grow at in the garden. It has been a cool start of the season and we are about a month behind where I live.
Nonetheless the herbs are coming up and the flowers are starting to grow. Many of the early spring flowers are almost ready to bloom and several wildflowers are already blooming.
I love walking around and looking for the new growth. It is such a surprise each day to see what has broken the earth. Around here we call the emerging foliage “baby plants” and I have to remind my kids for a few weeks to be careful where they step.
Some of the earliest to come up are fresh herbs and I am beyond excited to start using them again in the kitchen. Its been a long winter of buying herbs.
Walking around the garden I see fresh herbs starting to grow as well as early spring flowers and bulbs.
Lets go on a little tour and look at what is comming up in my yard.
Motherwort is growing in several areas. I have so much land to fill and much of it is very hard to grow on due to the large pine trees and excessive needles that drop. This herb is very prolific and spreads like wildfire. I am not scared to grow it since it pulls up very easily. It scientific name is Leonurus Cardiaca it is a bee friendly plant that is beneficial to women’s health. Use it in tinctures and teas. It is also great for anxiety.
mint in several varieties
Mint is in the same family as Motherwort. Unlike motherwort which spreads from the seeds mint spreads from the roots. It can be invasive. I debated long and hard before planting this herb right into the ground but ultimately I decided that if it will grow in the dead zones then I will be happy. I love how it naturalizes and how it smells. Even if it migrates into my lawn areas I don’t think I will mind it as long as it gets mowed regularly. If you don’t want it growing everywhere then plant it in a pot buried in the ground. There are quite a few varieties so I am not going to put up a scientific name. Mint is a favorite for cooking and tea.
Comfrey is another favorite of mine. I use it in handmade skin products such as salves. If you want a great salve recipe check this one out here. Its scientific name is Symphytum Officinale L. Comfrey is not only good in the first aid box it is also an amazing aid in the garden. The leaves are full of nutrients and using it in the compost or as a mulch will boost the health of the garden overall.
Oregano is up and looking strong. This herb is so wonderful in the kitchen and I am sure you are familiar with it. It is also in the mint family but it doesn’t grow as voraciously. There are also quite a few varieties so it depends on the one you grow what it’s scientific name is. Sometimes it goes by Marjoram and the flavor can vary. Oregano is rich in vitamins and nutrients and has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Feverfew is one of my favorites. It has a million little white blooms when its is in flower and is another herb that is so easy to grow. It is in the daisy family and its scientific name is Tanacetum parthenium. This herb is also quite voracious but it is easy to control by pulling. I love it for how much it spreads and how beautiful it is in bloom. The green foliage also provides garden interest for most of the year. Most people think it is a weed and pull but if you keep it around it will be beneficial to the bees. My very first plant came up as a volunteer from a house we used to own and I brought it to our new house in a small pot. Now it is in several locations. It is known to be used as a tea to treat headaches.
Chives are some of the best herbs to grow in my humble opinion. They are some of the very first to pop up and they smell so good. They are especially good to grow if you have chickens also since chives and eggs got together like butter and bread. Their scientific name is Allium schoenoprasum and they are close relatives to garlic, leek and scallion. Not only are they tasty but their juices work wonders for inflammation. They are a great culinary addition to almost any savory dish.
Early Spring flowers
Violets, Primrose, Peace Lilly and Tulips are all making their grand debut. Tulips are one of my favorites. I love buying the bulbs in the fall, planting them and then being surprised in the spring because I had forgotten exactly where they were.
There are always large garden projects to do in the spring
Two years ago we worked to cut out all the overgrown trees and bushes. I also build a large flower bed in an area that was too difficult to grow grass. We worked hard to get the grass to grow.
Last year we bought 12 more yards of dirt to fill the garden beds and cover the hugelcukture mounds we built the previous year with all the cut wood. I shoveled the entire month of May.
This year we got a truck of wood chips dumped. Hopefully we can finish our garden paths and start mulching the flower beds. We are fortunate to live in an area with a lot of tree service companies that are super eager to get rid of their chipped wood.
If you want wood chips, call around and see if a tree service company near you will drop some off. Keep in mind you have to take the entire load and some areas may require a small fee. The first time we did this I only paid 20 dollars for about 20 yards of wood chips. So it is a really great deal.
The greenhouse is my favorite place to be right now
Stuff is growing in the greenhouse! Late last month we got our shelves built and then I started planting right away.
I had a ton of little plastic pots that I have collected from purchasing starts over the years. I had them all stacked together in the shed. They really accumulate fast and I had no idea that I had as many as I did.
Still there can never be to many plants (unless you are talking about zuchinni). So I quickly ran out. I ended up using some plastic disposable cups to make up the difference. I quickly ran out of those too and now need to go buy more. I am a plant addict.
The disposable plastic cups are a low cost way to make starts. You can get a lot of seeds planed from just one bag. The trick is that you need to put a hole in the bottom for the water to drain out.
If you are environmentally conscious you can re use them quite a few times before they get brittle. The better quality you buy the longer they last.
I like to put them on a tray or in a pot saucer so that they are easy to move around and categorize.
many garden varieities of vegatables are cold hardy so you can start them in the soil as soon as it thaws.
This past week I direct sowed cold hardy annuals in my garden beds. The kids helped me plant sugar snap peas, radishes, arugula, and leaf lettuce.
We always do a seed order in January. I find that by buying seeds from a reputable seed company I have more variety options as well as better germination rates.
Its surprising that even among radish varieties some are better suited to cold weather and some like it just a little warmer. If you want to read about the benefits to ordering seeds instead of buying off the shelf of a big box check out this post.
Garlic and Rhubarb by the peach tree
Last spring I planted some garlic a friend gave me. March was the wrong time of year, it prefers to be planted in the fall. I decided to plant it anyway and it didn’t do great. By summers end it was all gone, the growth stunted and the green stems missing. I forgot about it during the fall clean up since I couldn’t see it and it all stayed in place over the winter.
To my surprise it has all come up and is stronger then ever! I planted most of it around my first year fruit trees as an organic pest and fungal control. I am anxious to watch it this year to see what it does. This year I will need to remember to plant garlic in the fall.
Can you see the Rhubarb back there? It is growing and looks great. Our favorite way to use it is in a syrup as a cordial or over ice cream. It makes great pie as well.
That's the end of the Early Spring Garden tour. I hope you enjoyed it and learned something too!
This time of year is busy. We have so much ground to cover (no pun intended) and the work load increases. I love to work in the cool of the spring so that by the heat of summer I can kick back and enjoy the fruits of my labor.
What do you grow? Let me know and feel free to ask questions. I am always happy to help you grow the best garden!