Volunteers

We’ve had so much cash-crop work around here, there’s hardly been any time for gardening, much less writing about it.

But the garden doesn’t know this. It’s got its own work to do, as the days get longer and the soil warms. The soil is fertile, and the perennials and self-seeding plants we’ve started over the years are settling in and making the most of spring’s rain and warmth.

The perennials that have come up are one huge chayote, a wall’s worth of scarlet runner beans, a bush-like clump of Maximilian sunflower, and another small bush of epazote. Also, the marjoram and thyme have struggled through the winter, and the tarragon is making a comeback as well. A rosemary that has been a bit wan for several years is finally coming to life, perhaps because of an infusion of mulch and fertilizer over the past year.

We’ve got some self-seeders, many of which we didn’t expect! There are fava beans maturing in various places around the homestead, volunteers as well as hired hands, and there are still purple wave mustards starting up, even though we’ve gone through a crop already this spring. One day I went to look at the pea patch and noticed that it was completely covered in tiny red seedlings, which are apparently the result of our large amaranth plants from last year. I’ve thinned them occasionally, and I think I will try to encourage some to grow in a different location from last year, so the peas have a chance. While we didn’t find a use for the amaranth, the chickens love it, and all those nutrients get passed on to our eggs.

Several weeks ago we had a work party, and with the help of a few friends we took care of some projects we’d been thinking about for a while. We laid the groundwork (or the post-work) for a little chicken run which still needs to be fenced. Holly and I designed and built a little door on the side of the chicken tractor. Once we fence in the run, we’ll be able to leave this door open during the day, so the chickens will have a place to dig and scratch in the sun, with protection from predators and access to their little home.

We’re hoping that the garden will survive this summer’s construction/destruction project. It’s turned into quite the major renovation, involving the removal of most of the back of the house, so our immediate plans have taken on sort of a seige mentality. We’re moving the chayote away from the destruction site, and will be relocating the composts to give the workers more room. We’re planting a lot of things in containers, tucked safely away at the back of the garden — the City of Oakland’s recent conversion to all-in-one recycling bins has provided us with a nice stack of plastic “planters,” complete with drainage holes in the bottom. Instant raised beds.

Today we got a very springy box of vegetables from our Capay Organics delivery, including a big bag of fava beans, and some green garlic. I went out and picked as many favas as I could find in our yard, and as usual was surprised to see how many we had, even though from a distance (or in my mind) it seemed like “just a little.” I’m going to take advantage of a brief lull in the workflow to make a pot of Catalan-style fava bean/sausage/mint stew. The green garlic will go nicely in that as well.

Best wishes to y’all for a verdant spring.

Fruitfully,

Patrick

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One Response to Volunteers

  1. jen says:

    Glad to hear that everything is going well. Sounds like an exciting time on the homestead!

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