BY ROSANNA BAUMAN
This is THE busy time of year on the Bauman farm. All days, weeks, and months are busy, but this is the busiest period as the farm ramps back to life after the long winter. There are crops to plant, chickens to dress,and dozens of other tasks to be completed. One is putting out our own family garden. I wanted to share a few tips with you that might be of value as you get your garden in gear.
TIP ONE: Plant perennials: It just makes sense the more food you can grow from perennial plants, the fewer you’ll have to plant next year. Sure there is still pruning and fertilizing but perennials are a lot more adaptable to drought and weather extremes. Asparagus, rhubarb, and artichokes are good examples of perennial garden goodies.
TWO: Don’t garden any harder than necessary. I just learned about Ruth Stout the mother of no-till gardening at a conference this winter. I definitely want to be a gardener like Ruth whow as anamusing lady that dared to ask why (Why do I have to wait until it is dry enough to till? Why does gardening have to be hard work? Why cut potatoes before planting? Why do I have to plant in straight rows?)
THREE - Never plant before May. This sounds ridiculous but it works for us at Cedar Valley Farms. We don’t win star gardening points for being the first to put peas in the ground. But we don’t care. While others are putting seeds into the soil in early March we don’t get in a big hurry. We found that for our region if you wait until the first of May the soil will be warmer and your seeds will get off to a better start. It is not uncommon for our late bloomers to catch up with everyone else’s plants that have been stunted in the cold spells.
FOUR - Never take gardening advice from a poor gardener. That is my disclaimer for this whole article, although I have grown up gardening I don’t come near to being a master gardener. Therefore, I make no claims that these gardening tips actually contain good advice, it is simply a collection of my gardening manifesto, what I do, and why I do it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for your garden.
FIVE: Try a “funny” crop each year. At least one funny crop is essential in one garden each year just to expand your taste buds. How else can you know whether you know whether Kohlrabi is the veggie you’ve been missing in your life? Or that orca is as bad as it sounds. Or that Swiss chard looks better than it tastes You may never plant it again or it may become a new favorite.
SIX: Go barefoot. Okay, so I have heard that this is a big no no as your bare feet are practically sponges and can absorb all sorts of bacteria or other nasty things. But to truly experience the thrill of gardening you really ought to be barefoot when you poke those seeds into the furrow. There’s no cure for spring fever quite like burying your bare toes in the rich, warm, soil of spring.
SEVEN: Build organic matter. It is not dirt, it is soil. And soil is more important than the seed. So often we get focused on the smaller aspects of gardening and forget that the soil is the base of it all. Take soil tasks seriously and pay attention to what your soil needs. As the better your soil the sweeter and more flavorful your veggies.
EIGHT: Pray for a harvest. In the end there is so little to what I can do as a gardener to ensure a good harvest. I can prepare the soil, weed and harvest but the actual sprouting and growing, the fruiting and ripening is all beyond my control.