Not Gardening, Just Prepping

I’ve been doing a lot of spring planning.  Some of it has been for my own garden and some of it has been for the Plot Against Hunger.  I’ve ordered seeds and some supplies (stakes, fencing, tomato insulators, cloches for young plants, etc.) and will start tomatoes, peppers and eggplants inside.  I think all my seeds are coming from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.  If you live in Zone 7 or below, this is one of the best sources of seeds bred for heat, humidity, and the pests that frequent the Mid-Atlantic and south.

My rosemary bush has some cold-nipped branches, but everything else looks pretty good and will resurge with some warmth.

Today I went to the garden (it was sunny and mid-40s) and finished off some things I hadn’t been able to get to in the fall and cleared out the broccoli and cauliflower plants.  In a winter where it’s cold but we don’t have snow or freezing rain, these plants will keep making new heads and florets after the initial cutting.  This year, as you know, we’ve had three separate snows.

I cleared some zinnias that were dried up, dead, and dark brown, some Jerusalem artichokes I’d left for their lovely late flowers, and did a little weeding.  Then I tidied up all the fencing for reuse in the spring.  I’ll get an early crop of resurgent parsley and cilantro once it starts to warm, and there should be some really early carrots.  Meanwhile, I have lettuces in my cold frame.

I’ve been eating these, avoiding packaged greens.

In the Plot gardens, I trimmed the asparagus plants back, as they were green late into the fall and need to be cut back after they brown.  I pulled the cauliflower and broccoli plants from the enclosure in the larger Plot, did a little weeding and trimmed up the blackberry canes a bit.  Now I have a better idea of the kind of support I need to add for them as well.

There will be larkspur among the asparagus spears this year.

I’ve been helping a Plot committee do some focus groups to help plan the coming year.  It’s a big operation, starting with giving seeds to some gardens, having some volunteer gardeners start seeds for in-demand produce, organizing a spring kick-off with tool exchanges, panels of expert gardeners, and assorted other things.  Plot basically has gardeners who donate produce, volunteers who bag produce for local food pantries, and a cadre of tough people who harvest farm crops, primarily from USDA’s experimental farms and a few local orchards.  This can be hot, hard work in the summer and also involves bulk deliveries to warehouses that then get the word out to pantries to come get what they need.

Things look pretty good here and I now have a better idea of fencing and support for the crazy blackberry in the back.

I’ve been doing other things as well—walking with friends among nearby parks and trails, seeing signs of impending spring.  There are more birds and some migraters coming through and the squirrels are chasing each other madly around tree trunks.  All in good time.

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38 Responses to Not Gardening, Just Prepping

  1. It looks like you’re all ready for Spring, Lisa. We’re getting lots from the garden at present but not as well planned as you – although I tried!

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  2. Eliza Waters says:

    Candlemas Day and spring is on its way! Your mild winters are lovely, allowing you to garden year round (but I don’t envy your hot, humid summers 😉 ). Seeing rosemary surviving definitely says ‘mild’ to me. Spring is a way off for us, but today I was pleased to hear chickadees and titmice singing their ‘spring’ mating calls. A good sign!

    Liked by 1 person

    • arlingwoman says:

      Yes, and this month it will become more obvious here that spring is on the way. I was startled by the rosemary. I have lost bushes to a bad winter before and occasionally have wrapped them in burlap and thrown leaves in. But I didn’t do that and we had snow three times. It looks mostly like the foliage was a bit frost bitten.

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  3. Looks good, Lisa! It does take a tremendous amount of planning, doesn’t it? I’ve just finished organizing and getting all my seeds ready to sow when it’s the appropriate time for each of them. We had a cold, wintry January and for that I am thankful. Happy gardening!

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  4. Wonderful that you can eat greens from your cold frame. Sounds as though you are having a creative, fulfilling retirement.

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  5. TanGental says:

    Looking good from here. We’re sprinkling some seeds for the poppy and wildflower beds. They’ll pretty much cope with anything. Other seeds in the frames those ours are uprights with shelves. I’m jel of the asparagus but Mrs LP isn’t that keen… I have to grin at you talking about mid 40s. As a child I’d have understood, all temps were in Fahrenheit back then but sometime my brain shifted to Celsius and now that sounds like North Africa in summer. I suppose it was joining the EU but I can’t pinpoint it…. Other EU changes, like to kilograms I’m sort of okay with those or pounds but kilometres? Nope, not a chance. Miles for me…

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    • arlingwoman says:

      I think Celsius would be around 7. I thought about that to and almost put an f after it because in C that would indeed be hot! I always toss poppy seeds down in November. They come up in winter looking like little green mosses and then really jump start in the first warmth. As for Kilometers, I’ve never dealt with that and find it hard to calculate–it’s more than half a mile at .62 (?) so doubling doesn’t work. But liters, grams, all that, I can handle.

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      • TanGental says:

        At least we don’t have your wretched cups! They are the end, recipe wise!! And i work on a rough 5/8ths of a mile for a kilometre…

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      • arlingwoman says:

        LOL. Yes, that’s why I have a scale for recipes that will do grams and ounces. So many good recipes with grams. Baked a Paul Hollywood scone recipe in December and finally figured out the difference between scones and American biscuits–eggs and bread flour (strong four). I’ll keep 5/8s in mind, though when I’ll be traveling to need it any time soon is a mystery.

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      • TanGental says:

        Yes. There are always differences that seem designed to keep you confused!! And travel? I have a ski trip if I’m lucky in March but beyond that…

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  6. That is pretty impressive prepping – which I would call gardening anyway. It is good to see those wildlife log shelters in the woodland picture.

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    • arlingwoman says:

      Yes, that shelter looks as though you could wrap a tarp around it and take up residence. I thought it was pretty. There are some meadows nearby and in the fall I could see where deer had bedded down in the tall grass.

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  7. SueW says:

    Goodness, Lisa, how organised you are. Well done. 🙂

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  8. shoreacres says:

    I was going to ask about that last photo. I’ve never seen anything like that. I wondered what its purpose was, since it’s obviously been constructed. At first I thought it simply was the result of someone gathering up fallen branches, but after seeing your exchange with Derrick, I think it’s more than that.

    I’m always astonished by the amount of work a proper garden takes — not to mention the expense. Granted, there’s a return in the form of produce, and I suppose a lot of recycled materials can be used, but it’s still quite an investment in time, money, and energy: probably more time and energy than money, actually. Every time I visit the farmers’ market, I’m glad there are people who enjoy it!

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    • arlingwoman says:

      Yes, that structure could be anything from the beginnings of a bonfire (if not located where it is) to animal shelter–especially with the little lean to off to the side. Not sure, really whether the park staff did it or some ambitious walkers. As for gardening, I’ve gone a while with saved seeds and reused fencing and stakes. This year I needed to make another investment, so ordered some new things. All told, it was under $200 and I’ll make that up in a couple months when things start coming on–especially given the cost of organic produce and being able to put a few things up. It’s mostly time and labor. Now that I’m retired, I have the time and I’ve always enjoyed the labor. Just getting out the other day made me feel fabulous!

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  9. Robin says:

    Look like you have been keeping busy with the gardens. Thank you for the heads up about Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. I ordered a catalog. We’re still planning and plotting here, but probably need to make up our minds soon and get things started.

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  10. Lavinia Ross says:

    Spring will be here before we know it, Lisa. Good you have cold frames up and are harvesting some good greens already.

    SESE is where we get our seeds, too.

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  11. It’s a good thing to enjoy the season you are in while planning for the next. Gardening is such a lot of work but so much enjoyment when the results come in. There will be no garden in my future. Very little grows well at this altitude and I have only shade on my porch. I’ll enjoy watching yours progress. Feeding so many has to be a gratifying experience.

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  12. You’re keeping busy, Lisa. I’m really happy for you. You’ve got a good start on the season already. I’m pulling weeds here and there, but holding off on pruning till we’re past potential frosts. It’s a

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    • arlingwoman says:

      I know. I always plant too early, especially with the long cold springs we’ve been having the last four years. I think you can prune certain things once you see the little buds coming along the branches, which wouldn’t be affected by frost (like roses). Here, that’s pretty much February (I jump the gun a bit here, too). But for a lot of things that need protection of old foliage–which is what you’re likely talking about–I’ve left those for later too. You’re so much earlier than we are, though (your love-in-a-mist!!). When is your last frost usually? End fEb? Early March? I didn’t get your whole comment for some reason. It ended with “It’s a” so you may have told me all this!

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      • How strange that I didn’t finish that comment. I have no idea what I might have said either. Funny! As for our last frost date, I just looked it up. I think it varies a bit year to year. San jose’s first frost date is 11/17 and its last frost date is 2/28, so just around the corner. We’re in the middle of an extended and worrying heat wave (80, 82, and 81 respectively). We’ll “drop” to 63, then back up into the seventies. It’s surreal. We had the driest January on record and so far not a drop in February. Its worrisome, Lisa.

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      • arlingwoman says:

        We’re having a day in the 60’s today and a friend and I are heading to Turkey Run park for a little walk in the woods. Helped give out seeds this morning to Plot Against Hunger gardens. Tomorrow it’s supposed to snow again. I can’t imagine it will be much, given how warm the ground is…I hope your heat wave ends soon. Temps that high in Feb are indeed worrying.

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  13. Sylvie Ge says:

    This communal gardening seems to be a really demanding job in terms of organisation. I hope all the work is appreciated. But I am sure it also creates a great sense of solidarity and satisfaction in a time of great uncertainty .

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  14. Pingback: Trying To Keep Up | TanGental

  15. Whew, sounds like a big job! Bravo for being so organized and underway. We’re a long way off from gardening here, though the last couple of days have been unseasonably warm. We’ll take what we can get. Happy digging, cleaning, planting Lisa! xK

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