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Back Yard Garden

By Kate Gridley, May 3, 2011 - 9:01am

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I have been busy lately! Too busy to blog, and even, horror of horrors, too busy to work in my beloved garden. But there it is. The garden exists in addition to my professional life, and though I wish to be working in it, especially now that the weather is warming, it is not always possible.

There’s not much to eat in my garden yet, except sorrel, which is just about ready to pick. This early in the season, the young leaves are great in a salad, adding a slightly lemony sour taste. We managed to crush the rhubarb when taking out a tree, so that is moot (we hope it is going to live to see another season). There’s a crowd of parsley that managed to winter over, but it will probably bolt and set seed early, so I have several pots of new parsley ready to go into the ground. Last summer’s bronze fennel, strangely, is coming back, but it, too, will probably bolt early and set seed. And I don’t have the luxury of an asparagus bed. For that, I forage in friends' gardens...if they'll invite me!

The vegetable garden in the backyard is only just waking up. Here in Vermont, folks are saying the spring is late. Actually, last year spring was early; this year it is more like it should be. While it is time to put things in the ground, we could still have a frost. The grass has greened up; some of my neighbors have mown their lawns for the first time. The raised beds are now repaired, and most of the first seeds I planted are up: peas, spinach, carrots,

kale, fennel, garlic (very vigorous), onions, shallots and lettuces. In the herb garden, the mint is sending out exploratory tendrils under the mulch. The tarragon has returned, along with the lavender, sage, and some of the thyme. All my seed starts are outside hardening off. I keep them close to the house so that if a frost threatens, I can easily haul them back inside.

The season of the root cellar, carrots in sand, bags of dusty potatoes, and the remaining onions from last year's harvest is over. I crave the new season’s first greens, which, if they are something ephemeral and sensitive to growing conditions, like ramps, I might only eat sparingly (see last post). I look ahead to the brief season of fiddleheads. I celebrate the asparagus from a friend’s patch. While the garden in the backyard emerges, I find that I am compelled to forage—just a little. This week, if the weather holds, I'll find time to put some of the heartier plants in the ground.

TAGS: Kate Gridley, Gardening

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