It feels like we have had some of the craziest weather I’ve ever seen in the past few months in central Virginia. For New Years Day, our family went for a walk in the 65 degree weather, then February brought in some mild, but cool weather. In March we saw 80 and almost 90 degree days, but April was chilly and rainy. Now that May is nearly over it finally feels like spring has arrived. I was afraid it never would. I was also afraid my garden wouldn’t know how to handle all the changes in temperature and sun exposure.
But it did, thankfully.
I had planted some cool weather crops in late February including carrots, spinach, kale, and rhubarb. I also have lettuce that I have personally never planted, but it continues to grow beautifully every year. I start harvesting that in mid to late April. I’ve harvested some spinach, but no matter how many spinach plants I plant, I never seem to get a great yield. I wonder what it is I’m doing wrong. I pluck a few leaves off each plant every few days, but never enough to really through into a green monster smoothie or make a salad. My kale failed horribly, and I have no clue why. I was a little bummed because I love through kale into stews and soups. I may try a late crop to see what happens with that. I haven’t yet harvested carrots because I’m honestly not sure when to do that. I have to do a little research into how big and fluffy the top of a carrot has to be before the tuber is orange and delicious.
I think by far the biggest gardening success we’ve had this year is our strawberries. Last year my in-laws gave us a medium-sized strawberry plant in a hanging basket. It survived and did pretty well through the summer and most of the fall. We did not, though, harvest very many strawberries; I think we ate four of our own berries. Just four. Barely enough to slice and put on your morning cereal. By the time early fall rolled around, I thought the strawberries could use a little more room to grow, so I put our fairly small plant in the middle of one of our 5’x5′ raised beds. Through the fall, winter, and early spring, that one strawberry plant nearly filled the entire bed, and starting in early April we’ve been harvesting about half a pint of strawberries a week! I’m finding that for their yield, strawberries are super easy to grow in our area. I would venture to say they’d do well all over the mid-Atlantic region and similar climates. The only thing to watch out for is containing the plant’s growth and spreading by clipping the extending tendrils before they take root.
Other things I’ve got planted that are about ready to bloom and fruit include string beans, zucchini, tomatoes, cilantro, basil, and fennel. So far my string beans seem to be extending their tendrils out, so I expect they’ll be climbing the trelisse very soon. I’ve also seen some tomato flowers already. That makes me more excited than anyone can imagine. As an Italian woman, I probably cook my body weight in tomato products 7 times over in the course of one year. In order to be more frugal and proficient about this fact, we’re growing and preserving our own tomatoes and tomato sauce. I seriously cannot wait!
Anyone else have anything coming up already and soon to come up from the ground? I’m curious to know what’s growing where. 🙂