Nowruz in the Garden

Nowruz in the Garden

Four high raised garden beds, two with plastic hoop houses. One long low raised bed in foreground.

I am not Persian, but as a gardener in a northern climate, I’ve taken the Persian New Year holiday to heart because it’s usually when I can start my garden year again. Despite our spell of subzero weather in February, it’s been pretty nice these past couple of weeks. Sunny and 50s during the day, 20s overnight. And so … time to take these tall beds for a test drive.

I didn’t blog about it last year, most of my garden rebuild went on Instagram, but I entirely rebuilt the garden last spring. I panicked as the pandemic hit. The beds I had were okay, but I was having a terrible time with weeds, and I wanted to make sure I could grow food for myself and Himself into my geezer years. So this is my geezer garden. The beds are tall enough that I can toddle out there as an ancient crone using my walker, and still manage.

I didn’t get them in until early June last year, so this is the first year I can see how they do in the spring. The near bed with the hoop house on it has been cooking away for a couple of weeks now. It has lots of cool weather greens seeds that I threw in in January, and then another batch when I hooped it about a month ago. There are also walking onions and some garlic I planted in the fall. There’s a carpet of tiny seedlings coming up under there, and some green onion and garlic shoots. With luck, I should be able to start eating thinnings in a week or two. The next bed I just planted and hooped this afternoon. It has some sprouting broccoli I started indoors about 3 weeks ago that I transplanted out, and a lot of spinach, broccoli rabe, arugula, mustard, and Franchi Italian greens I buy from GrowItalian.com. The next bed down I planted with peas. I’ll have to put some sort of supports in there when they start coming in, but for now, I just planted a bunch of pea varieties, and we’ll see what happens. The near tall bed has herbs in it, and I’m waiting to see which perennials made it through the winter.

Raised garden bed full of straw with onion shoots visible.

This is one of the two long beds I replaced as is when I did the rebuild, and these are my beloved Egyptian Walking Onions. They were here when I bought this house, in feral patches around the yard. They’re always the first thing up in the spring and I adore how pungent they are. Last spring I sliced, vacuum sealed and froze a glut of them, and it got me through the winter. I still bought the occasional bunch of scallions at the store, for the crunch, but the frozen ones were fine to cook with. I also managed to keep myself in home-grown parsley over the winter. I put 4 parsley plants in a planter in the greenhouse room, and they provided me with enough fresh parsley that I never had to buy any. I also froze a lot of parsley at the end of the summer, but the texture isn’t good, so I’ve only used it to cook with. I might have to dig them out and make a batch of Green Soup now, since the parsley I buried in straw for the winter is starting to come back in.

Strawberry plants growing through straw in a raised garden bed.

The strawberries also did really well buried in straw for the winter. I’m experimenting with a kind of no-dig/compost-in-place process in these long low beds. I bought a couple of 40lb bags of alfalfa pellets at the feed store — I think I paid $12 a piece? I read on one of the permaculture sites that alfalfa pellets make good green manure, and since part of my goal was to start heating up this straw so it will break down, I thought I’d try it as a green layer. So far, it’s settling right in, the pellets have melted, and it seems to be helping to break down the straw. We’ll see. My garden motto. It’s all an experiment.

Rhubarb crown beginning to poke up through the straw garden bedding.

And finally, I’ll leave you with this sign of spring. A rhubarb crown, poking up through the straw in the soft fruit bed, where it’s fenced off from the chickens. With any luck in a few weeks we’ll have new rhubarb.

Happy Nowruz! Happy Spring Equinox — I’m off to get a COVID vaccine tomorrow, and here’s to all of us coming out of this year of lockdown, and being able to see one another again.

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