Friday, April 2, 2010

First Failure of the 2010 Gardening Season

Last month, I wrote here about planting spinach in the snow. I have believed unswervingly in this method since I read about it in The Mother Earth News, and have spoken about it with such fervor that I have made several converts.

One such acolyte (you know who you are) informed me matter-of-factly last week that her spinach was an inch high. Now that the temperature is in the 70s, she must be eating baby-spinach salads. Moi, on the other hand, have nothing coming up in my garden. Nothing, that is, except for green grass and emerald weeds.

Being a good (recovering) Catholic, I made an examination of conscience. What had I done wrong, or not done right, to account for this failure? The answer was, I had committed sloth, one of the seven deadly sins. Specifically, I was guilty of autumn sloth.

I confess that by October, when the leaves turn and the birds leave, I get heartily sick of gardening. The intensity of it! The endless planting, weeding, harvesting, washing, blanching, freezing! Lord, I pray, deliver me from all this bounty! Kyrie eleison, hurry up and send that killing frost.

To get the animals ready for winter, I clean out the shed and pile the manure-enriched bedding on the garden. This is hard work, but I do it gladly because it marks the end of the gardening season. When I'm done, I put away the pitchfork and the cart and go inside and light a fire. The last thing I want to do is go back to the dead garden and work the compost into the ground. Instead, I leave it on top of each bed, like a kind of duvet, waiting for the first snow.

When I went out with my seed packets last month, the snow had melted overnight, but the ground was far too hard to work. As long as I was out there, though, I figured I might as well drop the seeds into the compost, and hope for the best.

Well, the best hasn't happened. Those little seeds never did find a molecule of dirt to glom on to, or they would have come up by now. Despite torrential rains, the hay-and-manure duvet was far too thick for them to navigate, and I am sure they are stuck somewhere near the middle of it, not germinating.

As a result of my autumn sloth, I have no spinach, alas, and no arugula. Moreover, last summer having been a bad veggie summer, I now have three packages of frozen veggies in the freezer: one of pureed pumpkin, one of broccoli, one of peas. I cannot believe that I am going to be forced to buy greens at the grocery store.

I know that I should get out there right now and work that fabulous compost into the ground and plant some seeds. And I know that if I do that in the beds where I put in the spinach and arugula I will turn up and kill sad little green embryos. What to do? Just in case, I'll fork over and plant the beds in which I didn't plant the early greens. And in another couple of weeks, I'll replant those early beds again. Mea culpa.

7 comments :

  1. This is a heart-wrenching story and on Good Friday no less. Fear not. [sound of mask being ripped off] I here publicly admit to being the green-thumbed acolyte mentioned above. Did you that there is a Jewish tradition know as "first fruits" wherein you give away the first fruits of your garden (or I suppose in the old days your harvest) Now I know where my first spinach will go...

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  2. I know it is in part because I have never gardened, but I can never wrap my head around how people have TIME to garden!

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  3. My spinach has failed miserably this year, too. We don't normally have snow on the ground long enough or late enough to try the snow-planting method (though this year was an exception) so I just sow in the ground. This year, only about 4 row feet out of 100 planted actually came up. Not being Catholic, I'm looking for some outside force to blame. I've decided on the exceptionally warm spring weather. Spinach never stood a chance.

    BTW, I have posted a couple of photos of the new arrivals on my blog. :-)

    Joya

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  4. the hay and manure duvet. Love it.

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  5. Elizabeth, that is very, very kind. Thanks! Returning from Philly yesterday evening, I think I saw what might be spinach sprouts in the beds, but no true leaves as yet.

    Joya, you planted 100 feet of spinach???

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  6. Oh, yes. I am a full time farmer by profession, now, selling vegetables and eggs at the farmers' market and produce stand. Just wait until my 300 tomato plants go in the ground!

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  7. Joya, More power to you! May Demeter and Persephone smile on your land.

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