Spring Garden

Clear skies, warm sun, rich soil, tiny seeds, and a whole lot of hope: the perfect way to welcome the return of spring.

The snow finally melted a couple weeks ago and I have been itching to get my hands in the dirt again. I was going to plant last week, but just as I pulled out the shovels, poor Ned came down with a fever and wanted to be held the rest of that day… and the next. Then it rained. Then we had last-minute company. Then we went out of town for a few days. Then it rained some more.

Though I'm practical by nature, my friend convinced me to plant flowers too. Not only does it make the vegetable garden more beautiful, the beauty draws me out to the garden to tend it.

Gardens should be beautiful, not just practical, my friend Aneysa wisely said.  

Yesterday dawned clear and warm and gorgeous, but I didn’t think there was any way I could get out to the garden since I’d offered to watch my sweet little niece and nephew for the afternoon.

Then, almost miraculously, all four little kids took naps at the same time! Nice long naps.

Gardening with kids is an incredible opportunity to teach them about how we get our food, how seeds grow, and how to hope. :)

Growing a little gardener

While the little ones slept, Rose and Will helped me clean up, dig, and plant in the cozy spring sunshine. Last year, 90% of the planting I did was either in the dark (by flashlight) or just as a rainstorm started. Even though it’s not that hard to pull a few weeds or water my little garden patch with a sweet baby in tow, I find it nearly impossible to actually plant while juggling a baby who would way rather eat dirt than calmly watch me plant seeds.

I love gardening so much that it was worth the rain and dark last year. But planting in the middle of a gorgeous day made me almost giddy with happiness and gratitude.

Thanks to a layer of mulch that decomposed all winter (and all that rain we’ve had), the soil was rich and moist, so loosening it was a simple job.

Set your summer garden up for success, but planning where you'll plant ahead of time... and getting the garden ready! The trellises are for the cucumbers... to grow over the spinach.

Last year, the spring garden thrived beyond my wildest expectations. Both beds were full of spinach and kale (and lettuce). It kept growing and growing and growing. We all fell in love with spinach and kale chips and burned through huge bundles. Though it was a tremendously fun blessing, by the time the spring crops died down it was WAY past time to plant tomatoes and cucumbers.

Though I am not counting on such amazing success this year, just in case it happens, I’m trying to plan ahead better.  While poking holes for spinach seeds, I had a Pinterest-inspired idea. I took two trellises out of winter storage and slanted them to form a “tent” over the spinach. When the weather warms up enough to plant cucumber seeds, I’ll already have their trellis ready. Plus, if the cucumber plants get as unruly as they did last year, they can ramble over the top and form a shade covering for the spinach. Win-win, right?

Filling the garden plots with spring seeds (and a few flowers since a beautiful garden is more worth tending!)By the time the little ones started to wake up, we’d filled the first bed with lettuce, spinach, kale, and cilantro seeds, with a pretty row of pansies along the front… and Will had gotten distracted hunting for worms.

His 2 1/2 year-old-cousin enthusiastically joined in the search. Will marched around the yard in hunt of worms like Christopher Robin on an adventure. Little Elise stumped along behind like Pooh. Cheerful shouts of “I found another worm!” punctuated the rest of our time and little fingers gently settled the “precious treasures” into the garden.

Now the spring seeds are all planted and it’s time to water and hope and wait. Happy Spring!