I took these pictures throughout the past week, showing bits of our garden at the end of May. My mom sent Jeff a gift certificate for his birthday to One Green World, just like last year. (Have you looked through their catalog? Our family wants to plant pretty much everything in there.) We ended up getting a fig and two honeyberry plants. We had a large fig tree here that fell over in a storm awhile back. It was a variety that wasn’t well suited to our location and though the branches would be covered in green figs, getting a ripe one was rare. We asked around to farming neighbors and a local guy with a nursery, and were told time and again that desert king would be the best variety for us. On Sunday we put our desert king fig in the ground!
Right before we were ready to put it in the ground, Jeff read that figs are especially sensitive to moles digging around their roots and the website suggested planting them in wire cages to protect them. We have a mole problem here. And though we catch them in traps from time to time, it doesn’t lessen the damage that they do in our garden. (We had an apple tree fall over one year from moles digging under the roots! And blueberry bushes will suddenly not look well and we’ll realize their roots are practically in air.) We didn’t have a wire cage handy, but we were able to re-purpose an old birdcage Jeff had. Ideally, the openings on the sides would have been bigger, but I think it will work just fine. Figs love to grow in pots. In fact, the giant fig tree we had before was in a pot. Jeff had meant to plant it in the ground, but before he did, it grew right through the pot and ended up being nearly as tall as our house. So I think this planting method we chose this time will work out just fine. He had to dig quite a hole to fit that birdcage. Oh, and we planted our fig near our chicken coop, against a warm wall. I think it’s the perfect spot for a happy fig tree. Jeff and Bracken are the fig lovers in our house, but I think I’ll join them when I taste a fully ripe one!
On Monday we planted our two honeyberry plants (you need two for pollination.) One market friend grows them in her garden, but they weren’t a favorite of hers. And a nearby farmer didn’t have any luck growing them at all. Even with that feedback, I really wanted to give them a try. We chose from the late blooming varieties, which are recommended for our area. Many who plant the early blooming varieties around here don’t have luck with them. What really drew me in was the fact that honeyberries can have ripe fruit up to two weeks before strawberries! They are in the honeysuckle family and have blueberry-like fruit. (You can read more about them here.) What we want in our garden is not to have our fruit ripen all at once, but to have fresh fruit available in our yard for as much of the year as possible. I’m curious to see how our honeyberries do here and to see what they taste like. I’ll be sure to report back.
On Monday we also planted a red currant bush. We’ve been trading eggs for plants with a man who has a local nursery, which we’ve been really happy about. We now have two red currant bushes and one black currant bush. Jeff read that robins love the red currants, so he picked up some “flash tape” at a local gardening store to deter the birds. We just aren’t able to cover everything with bird netting. It would be nice to share with the birds like our friends with large farms do, but being right in the woods, they eat every single berry in our garden so that’s not a great option for us. The red currants are starting to ripen and so far the tape has been repelling the birds. Fingers crossed!
Oh, and we planted a purple raspberry. (Our raspberries and our thornless blackberry have little green berries on them now!) We’ve been focusing a lot on berries and fruit recently and were feeling behind on getting the rest of our vegetables planted. We planted the rest of our seeds this week. That felt good. Usually Bracken wants to help plant seeds with us, but this time he wanted his own pots and his own seeds, to do his own planting. We gave him extra beans seeds and sunflower seeds and he got them all planted. We saved our own runner bean seeds, like we do each year. They are a favorite of ours (the pretty colored ones in Jeff’s hand in one of the picture above.) Jeff decided to plant some bush beans this year as well. I’ve never grown a bush bean before, so I’m curious about them.
We’ve put lots of starts in the ground from the seeds Jeff planted earlier: cilantro, lettuce, kale, chard, collards, onions. We’ve planted so many seeds. Many vegetables, but we’re planting more flowers this year as well. (Those foxgloves, though, as beautiful as they are, I pull them up because they are poisonous. Bracken knows not to pick that kind of flower.) We dismantled our old cold frame because we decided we wanted to do something different in that location (plant our fig tree), so Jeff made a temporary cold frame for us for the time being with old windows. Besides planting, lots of weeding is happening. The chickens and ducks get bucket loads and wheelbarrow loads all the time now.
Bracken’s new favorite thing in the garden this week is to run through the hose. Is there any sound that fills your heart with joy like hearing a child giggle while they run through a hose on a hot day? I truly love that. He is constantly picking herbs and flowers. He munches on mint leaves whenever he’s in the garden and hands them to anyone who would like to join him. Bracken also collects worms and starts his own “worm farms” regularly. Our compost pile is just packed with worms right now and we’ve been using all the compost up so fast to mulch our garden. Another chicken coop clean-out is in order. As an experiment, I put some worms from our compost pile into our compost tumbler, not knowing how happy they would be in there, so we’ll see.
I’m laughing to myself because with all of these years of gardening, I’ve still been known to ask Jeff where the “diggy thing” is. It’s called a spade and this year, for the first time, I am catching myself and making the effort to call it such, like a proper gardener.
Last night we worked in the garden until past bedtime. None of us could bring ourselves to come inside, it was so nice out there. Oh, and the really exciting news?! Our lemon is turning yellow! That farmer who told us to bring it outside was right. We check on our beloved lemon everyday and it’s kind of hilarious how much we all love it. Thus the magic of gardening.
P.S. Not garden related, but please come back this weekend for an amazing giveaway. My friend will be giving away some organic clothing just in time for summer!