EXT. THISTLE FIELD – MORNING (March, 2016)
We see The Garden, covered in leaves and dry vegetation. It is a calm, cloudy day with no wind. Beginnings of a light drizzle. The sound of an approaching wheelbarrow interrupts the stillness. Music rises.
INTO FRAME: THE LADY OF THISTLE FIELD approaches with a box of cabbage and broccoli seedlings. She places the box on the ground, pulls on her gardening gloves, and begins to SING a la ETTA JAMES.
LADY OF THISTLE FIELD:
Aaaaaaat laaaaast …
But seriously … It’s time! Gardening season has begun, right along with Daylight Savings Time (grrr). This morning at Thistle Field we set the first of the cabbage and broccoli seedlings, as well as some lettuce and kale. Mid-March in our area is the perfect time for setting out cold-weather crops, and I am excited to have gotten some things into the ground.
We started with a thorough weeding to get out any early-spring (really, late-winter) weeds. We then shoveled in some soil amendments, but not as many as last year. The soil is looking great this year: It is dark, crumbly, and has a perfect, earthy smell. We worked hard last year to get rich, wonderful soil by heavily amending it. It looks like our efforts are paying off. The final step before planting was to thoroughly turn each bed and loosen the soil, working the amendments down into the soil so they can do their crazy wizardry.
This morning’s garden expedition involved the entire Thistle Family: Mr. Thistle did the heavy shoveling and went after the most intractable weeds (read: small, heavily rooted, yet unwanted trees); I weeded, raked, and planted, trying to plot out the best arrangement for this year’s crops; Miss Thistle sang, picked up sticks, pulled weeds, and enthused over last year’s carrots which have overwintered right in the garden; and Little Thistle? Well, he snoozed peacefully, and added a massive amount of cuteness to the tableau.
I planted three varieties of cabbage today, including Early Jersey Wakefield, which is a cute, cone-headed, heirloom cabbage. It is an early variety, so I should be looking at a harvest in about 60-70 days! The other varieties I planted are larger and will take longer. They will be ready for harvest in about 80 days. All told, 20 cabbages went in the ground today. That will probably be enough for a first harvest, but I plan to plant at least that many in a second planting for a fall harvest as well. I enjoy experimenting with (and eating!) homemade sauerkraut, so I need as many as I can get my hands on. (But I need to leave room for other things too).
I also planted broccoli today. There’s nothing like home-grown broccoli: It’s about a million times better than what you find at the store (a very scientific calculation) and of course, we will grow it without pesticides. “Conventional” broccoli is heavily treated (and I detest that I called that “conventional” …). In addition, I got some red kale and deer-tongue lettuce going. Both of these can be harvested at any time, and at any stage in their development. Hooray!
In other good news, the rhubarb is poking through the soil, showing beautiful pink stalks and green leaves, and the asparagus is making an appearance as well. Both of these established crops will be ready for harvests this spring. I’m sure I will be using the rhubarb to make and can my favorite Rhubarb Earl Gray Jam. Mr. Thistle is a fan: It’s the recipe that converted him from a lifelong avoidance of rhubarb!
Later in the week I will be direct-sowing two more varieties of kale, along with spinach, radishes, turnips, lettuces, broccoli rabe, peas, etcetera. I’m so glad to have had this inaugural day in the garden, and I am looking forward to the season! Viva la vegetables!
What are you growing this year?