Spring! Do Everything!

Thai basil seedling getting ready for the garden

So far, April has had a good few of the kind of deceptive early spring days that get everyone outside, convince you that it's summer already, and remind you that a several-hour-long engagement outside might require some sunscreen or a hat or something if you're fair skinned, lest you find yourself searching later for the aloe. The smell of BBQ is everywhere in our neighborhood, with a dozen little charcoal grills on the sidewalks and the crooning of Motown greats drifting from back yards every night.

This season promises to be exciting for the garden, as the property has had a year's worth of us whipping it into shape already, and our neighbors now know and embrace the endeavor. We've started our experiment with hugelkultur, a low-maintenance, long-term type of bed construction that essentially involves burying a huge pile of wood, compost, and brushy scrap that we've been clearing from around The Homestead and the alleyway. While it's a side project and not garnering our full attention during this busy spring, it's nice to have a consolidated pile that we know will eventually turn into a fertile partial shade bed for decades of growing with no need to water or fertilize.

We've already started planting, getting a good month's jump on last year, so we're looking forward to having greens and radishes and peas sooner rather than later, and we just put our first fruit trees (pears and cherries to start) and brambles (raspberries and blackberries) in the ground too, which we and the neighborhood kids are already impatient to benefit from. And of course, the entirely-too-much garlic that we planted is coming up, too, giving us something to be excited about in the early summer. More tilling comes next...it won't be our last expansion, but will knock out the majority of the initial cultivated space for the foreseeable future, so hopefully this year we'll start to really get a real handle on how much we can produce, how much work that means for us, and how many more neighbor's hands we can put to good use and fridges filled up, assuming we do it well and the season is kind.

 Garlic going strong, even after the brutal winter

Garlic going strong, even after the brutal winter

And of course, now that everyone is coming out of hibernation we're busy meeting and re-meeting all sorts of neighbors new and old every time we get outside - kids, teens, adults, everyone. Last year felt a bit like people didn't want to disturb us, or didn't quite know what we were doing or how exactly we fit into the neighborhood, besides being the new couple on the street with the garden and who mow the hard way, with one of those old push jobs. But this year it feels like people know that we're as enthusiastic to have them in the garden as we tell them we are, and a few of them might just take advantage of that fact if they're interested. At least I know a few 8-11 year old girls (one of whom goes by Bubbles and lives up to the moniker in spades) who will help me pull weeds and eat strawberries. Needless to say, I'm optimistic about the produce and community aspects of our outdoor endeavors this year. I think we've got a lot to look forward to. A lot of things growing.