Monday morning was a perfect day for planting. Our forecast for the next 10 days is excellent in terms of temperatures, so the babies were set in their designated places in the potager. Aspabroc (shown left,)”Gonzales Mini-Cabbage,” “Katrina” and “Primero” cabbages, “Majestic” cauliflower, and “Blue Wind” broccoli (not shown) are now in tidy rows spaced between garlic, shallots, or onion sets. Both the “Windsor” and “Robin Hood” fava beans are settled in as well. I think next year I’ll only grow the “Robin Hood” (from Renee’s Garden Seeds.) They are a dwarf, short-maturing variety that produces a crop in our short springs before the heat of summer calls a halt. The plants were already in bloom and because they stay more compact, they don’t require staking or support even here in our blustery winds. If you look carefully, the tips of onion sets are just emerging and there’s garlic in the background in an attempt to foil the aphids that seem to always find the favas no matter where they are planted. The “Windors” have to be painstakingly tied to fencing or supported with bamboo intertwined with string. Of course, the fact that they grew so tall waiting, waiting, waiting for the weather to settle didn’t help any either. They look pitiful now, but they will become robust quickly. I learned last year that the tips of the Windsors need to be clipped (harvested for salads or a quick sautee with butter) to encourage them to fill their pods before the heat sets in. Those of you in better climates may have a longer harvest window. Last year both varieties produced about the same, so I’m thinking “Why bother with the fuss of the Windsors?”
In addition to setting out plants, more seeding was done: short rows of lettuces, bok choy and the first Royal Burgundy beans. I love these beans not only for their taste, but because the seed can tolerate cool soils without rotting and the purple beans are easier to see for faster picking. I’d just finished the last of the seeding on the list when the rain began. Perfect timing. The plants are loving it.
So, today is an indoor day, and as much as I love to garden my old muscles need a rest after three intensive days of unaccustomed movements. And, I have a wonderful book to read. Tovah Martin is one of my favorite garden writers. Since the first moment I held a copy of her “Tasha Tudor’s Garden” in my hands, I’ve been a devoted fan. Her writing is not just descriptive, it’s transforming. I look at things/plants/gardens/life differently than I did before, with more appreciation and knowledge. She is a guide in the world of gardens and gardening. Martin’s newest book, “The Garden in Every Sense and Season” has just become my new favorite, even though I haven’t read to the end. I am savoring every page, and often re-reading sentences or paragraphs that especially speak to me, or that are just truly deserving of another read! As in all of her books, the photography is absolutely exquisite. Many of them are from her 7-acre property that she’s named “Furthermore.”
Growing up in a gardening family devoted to plants, especially scented ones, Martin understands gardeners, our frustrations, our drives, our dedication, our joys. She knows that in the hectic rush of spring planting, mulching and clean-up “we rip and tear with all our might to create the sensational garden of our dreams, and then we forget to experience those sensations.” Her well-chosen words paint pictures, evoke feelings and memories. In Spring she asks “Don’t you want to embrace every single branch that bravely leafs out in defiance of the cruel winter it survived? Spring is the welcome-back season, It’s the sweet nectar we have been anticipating through all those months of waiting. But it’s also the time of year when we suffer the worst case of tunnel vision of the calendar. Spring is a relay race and we act like the sprinters.” How true! I’ve been sprinting so much trying to catch-up for this year’s late start that I’ve missed many of the blooms that have erupted. Designs and plans that were months in the making for color-coordination and well-timed bloom sequences have totally escaped my notice!
If Spring has not yet arrived where you live, if you appreciate a really well-done gardening book, or if you, too, need an occasional rest between garden chores do get a copy of this special, uplifting, eye-opening book. Right now, I’m going to make a large mug of tea, put on my Wellies and raincoat, and go inspect some of the glorious flowers in my gardens before they are gone. I don’t want to miss a thing!
Note: the copy I’m reading is from our local library, but I will certainly be purchasing a copy for my own library soon!