Garden to Table May 2016: salad days

May 2016 is well underway. At the farmer’s market, there are plenty of salad greens and a few early veggies. My market share CSA started, and over the last two weeks, I’ve chosen spring turnips, spinach, spring greens, and bok choy. Having managed to get the freezer down to some freezer pickles and jam, I defrosted it ahead of the main garden/CSA/market season.

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Preparing turnips with a recipe from A Girl and Her Greens by April Bloomfield (wow, she has the perfect chef name for springtime!)

What’s ready in my own garden? Spinach, asparagus, rhubarb, kale, and green onions. I didn’t get the cover off the cold frame one warm day, so my spinach is looking a bit overheated.

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Sad spinach

Most garden work at the Yarnstead in spring is weeding, planting, mulching, and fertilizing. The raised beds and containers need some fertilizer before planting; some people change out the soil mix in their containers every year but not me.

The biggest garden work this year has been the landscaping work I hired out: redoing a section of our backyard with paths and permaculture beds! They did all the prep and mulching, and I get to do the planting. Oh, and all the maintenance, but there will be almost no weeding in this area this year.

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Before
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After: mulch is your friend.

I want pollinator-friendly and low-maintenance plantings, so I’ve been thinking about lots of perennial plants. The thing that looks like a giant brush pile will be a hugelkultur bed eventually.

So far I’ve planted two new rhubarb next to the giant one that’s already out there. I’ve also made a new raised bed for asparagus out of old bricks and planted 10 crowns of Mary Washington. Blackberry bushes are scheduled to arrive in about two weeks.

I bought two bags of butterfly garden plants from Costco although I am not sure the varieties are native to Wisconsin, oops. Those I’ll be planting by the end of May. Last year I planted a wildflower mix that I brought back from Alaska and tossed in the (dried and squashed) milkweed pods I got from my neighbor. Those plants are growing in nicely.

Apparently I decided to go ahead with the dye garden right away without even realizing it. I found myself buying three coreopsis plants (we’ll see if they are unappealing to rabbits before adding more) for the permaculture area and seeding hollyhocks in the raised bed currently growing garlic and walking onions. I was also able to rescue a few of last year’s hollyhocks from the creeping bellflower. Next week I’ll be picking up some plants from the high school fundraiser including a flat of marigolds, and I’m paging through every one of my natural dye books.

Our remodeled yard will be a mix of edibles, dye plants, herbs, sunflowers, and pollinator plants. Most of these will come back each year on their own! There are a few areas adjacent to the professional work that I’ll be handling myself with my amateur ways (gulp). One is by the spruce peeking out of the right-hand side of the After picture above. I did a less intensive version of what the landscaper did but used straw for mulch since the area shouldn’t be very visible once the other plants grow in.

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I worked around some existing flowers and decided to put the compost bin back where it used to be. There’s a buried phone line along the back of the property so am leaving that area to the wild violets. It’s a favorite corner of weeds and other surprises.

It’ll be fun to see how much it changes in a few months, so I’ll do a garden tour post in the middle of summer.

I’ve tarped over the property’s original garden area which is most of the area affected by creeping bellflower. That won’t be enough to kill it but I hope to knock it back and smother all the other weeds; that should make it easier to dig out some of the bellflower next year. To do a thorough job of it, I had to cover the old asparagus bed and part of the summer raspberries, but it’ll be worth it if it helps contain that invasive plant. Keep your fingers crossed.

11 thoughts on “Garden to Table May 2016: salad days

  1. Wow what a beautiful yard!!! Lovely set up. I’ve planted bokchoy as well, how is yours doing? I started my own garden this year, so I’m looking forward to following you 🙂 happy growing!

    1. Thanks! I got the bok choi (choy?) from the farmer’s market, but generally greens aren’t hard to grow. I’m growing spinach, mache, and mustard greens. I think. I forgot to label although I am certain about the spinach 🙂

  2. This is beautiful Cindy! I’m growing a couple gardens here in AZ. It’ll be 116 degrees this weeeknd though (so says the weatherman) so I’ll have to see if I can keep the gardens from burning up!

  3. jeanie

    Love it. Here in the north, my garden is just coming up. My peas are about 2 inches tall. My asparagus looks good. Onions look good. Vowed to not leave volunteers this year. Now I have potates….I’m wavering.

    I am going to plant the entire mound in milkweed for the monarchs. Got the seed from the monarch project.

    Love your new blog, love you too

    Aunt Jeanie

    1. Thanks! Looking forward to hearing more about your milkweeds. I crumbled some dried milkweed pods from a neighbor into one part of the backyard but so far no milkweed. Love you too.

  4. Wow, what a great project! I had two beautiful butterfly bushes until a really hard winter got them a couple years ago. But not until I counted 2 dozen different types of butterflies on them one July! I am dealing with creeping charlie as my invasive nightmare…

    1. Thanks. I have lots of creeping charlie but it doesn’t bother me. The bees like it and it’s not so hard to pull out (I do realize that doesn’t really get rid of it). Thankfully it’s not nearly so fast spreading as creeping bellflower…which should probably be called racing bellflower.

  5. I love the new blog! All you hard work has payed off. I expect that you will keep me very much connected to Madison and gardening and home cooking as we wander this summer. Do you plant greens for an autumn crop?

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