May Day 2011

by Sherri Koehler on May 8, 2011

We kicked off the garden with a bang last weekend. I also started clearing off our front porch and replanted several pots with beautiful flowers. This seems an entirely fitting way to celebrate May Day!

Serenity & Whimsy Side-by-Side

Christie spent much of the 2 days deep-digging, amending, and turning nearly all of the big fourth bed. This has always been intended for root vegetables, but with our clay-dense soil it requires a fair bit of digging to get a deep bed. We added agricultural sand, 5-part soil mix (contains compost, sand, as well as soil) and peat moss to loosen up the bed for growing carrots, red & sweet onions, leeks, and beets…. for now, we’ll be adding even more beets, carrots and radishes to this bed. I’m even pondering daikon!

Baby Roots!

In another bed we decided to start some salad greens, savoy & “personal” red cabbage (they make miniature, single-serving heads), broccoli rapini, and a red variety of Brussel sprout. We plan to build a fifth bed this year to be our “salad bowl” where we’ll have all kinds of salad greens. We might yet still continue to do brassica type veggies in a separate bed, perhaps alternating with summer squash.


Our friends Caylee and Carolyn came over to help with the planting while I took off to go with Devon to see the Johnny Clegg Band. I’d kind of tossed the starts from Portland Nursery out along the bed, roughly where I wanted them. I then ran off without explaining the exact locations nor that the plant tags should be left with them. So a few things might be a little close on one side, but it should work out pretty well. However, we can’t quite recall what one thing is, we’re thinking some kind of red/purple broccoli perhaps.

Mystery Brassica

And then there’s the tomatoes. Yes, tomatoes, damnit. Here and now I throw down the tomato gauntlet and declare that we’re going to have the first home-grown tomatoes in the city. Hell yes!

Cold Hardy Babies

These first four, eventually the entire bed will be tomatoes, are cold-hardy varieties with names like “Moscovite”. As you can see they’ve got red plastic “mulch” to heat the ground (the raised beds also help to heat things up). But wait, there’s more garden-fu happening! In the middle of these little babies there’s a gallon jug of water acting as a passive solar heater, and over the top of them are small pvc pipes holding up 6mm clear plastic. Yep, we’ve got ourselves a tunnel cloche! Now that’s the way to get tomatoes going on May Day!

Can I Get An Amen for the Tunnel Cloche!

There’s still a lot of digging to go. In addition to the “salad bowl” we also have to clear the last raised bed of monster weeds and over-wintered kale (we’ve been snacking on the rabe). This bed will contain peppers of all heat-levels and a few eggplants for me. We also want to convert a 140 gallon stock tank I’ve had for a few years into an herb garden. Getting such a good start right at the beginning of May feels great, eventually we’ll be going all year round for many veggies.

Christie and the Dirt Pile

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