Mid April is the perfect time to prepare the soil in the vegetable garden. It’s early spring, and the signs are everywhere. Daffodils are celebrating, whilst the tulips, still hidden amongst their lush leaves, are just starting to swell. Leaves are budding, and down by the Astico the wild plum tree is covered with blossom. This morning, over the other side of the river, the shepherds were out with their flock of long-tailed sheep. They wander all over the place, wherever they’re allowed, fertilizing the soil as they roam.
Into the Vegetable Garden: Preparing the Soil for Spring
The General upturned our compost bins a good month ago and spread the enriched contents all over our plot. Then came the rain, then rehersals and gigs. This morning he worked, and tomorrow we’re away, so this afternoon claimed the occasion. He got in there with the pick, uprooted, upturned, leveled out, replanted.
So full of promise, a freshly dug vegetable garden at the very beginning of spring.The soil, dark and damp, is already full of seedlings. Remember the Wild Fennel from last summer? Surrounding the hollow, woody, cut-back stems there grew a feathery mass of grass green fronds. We chose one strong looking character and planted him in the far corner. The rest went into the weed bucket to be tossed. No point letting the fennel situation grow out of control. The little Johnny-Jump-Up violets, on the other hand, can remain in multitudes. We transplanted them amongst the crevices, in between the strawberries.
We hope the strawberries are going to do something this year. Last year, not a one. Driven by fantasies of overheaped bowlfuls with scoops of coconut icecream, we chose a variety which provides a single, bountiful harvest, as opposed to those which fruit for a long time, but only a few at a time. They leafed and spread, sending out their long octopus tendrils, which rooted and sprouted baby strawberry plants all over, but not a single fruit. One last chance, guys, or it’s all over. I’ll keep you posted.
Lina tended the vegetable garden – the Orto, in Italian – until two years ago. She’s slowed down significantly since fracturing her hip last Easter. Now, she comes out to talk the ear off us. An incredible thing, how other senses and capacities decline, but the gift of the gab just gets stronger. She’ll be 90 in November. Despite her inflammation and crooked spine, she still makes her own pasta and cakes, and refuses any help with the housework.
Roxy loves it when we’re all out in the backyard together. She wanders around in her busy world, led by smells and things to crunch. She won’t stand still long enough for me to get a good shot. She’s either got her nose to the ground and her bum in the air, or is crunching on something. That’s a dog for you.
Now that the soil is dug, the compost worked through, and the surface scattered with handfuls of fertilizer pellets, we’ll wonder what to do. I’ll draw up a plan, making sure to rotate the crops from last year’s plantings. I’ll badger The General to get us some hay for mulch, and think about erecting some kind of protection for the inevitable hail. Even though it hasn’t been a cold winter, we’ll still wait a week or so to avoid any risk of frost. Then we’ll stock up on fast growing salads and fresh herbs, tomatoes for the trelises, crawling zucchini and cucumbers, clumping celery, chicory and kale.
Let the fertile season begin!
What are you planting? Tag with the photos of your plot on Instagram @paleomantic
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