Monday, May 2, 2011

Rainy Days, Silver Linings

The mud puddle that is my vegetable garden. 

I have been so dismayed with our weather of late.  It seems every rare sunny day lands during my work week.  It has been raining so much that even when it we do have a dry day, it has been too wet to work in the garden. All this spring rain means farmers are delayed in planting their crops, and so too am I.

When I awoke this morning I was so disappointed to find it was raining again; I felt like staying in bed.   I decided to get up and go outside to check on the progress of a few things, to remind myself that despite the weather things are happening out there...

Outside on the porch, the plants I planted for the farm's new dye garden are starting to come up. This year, as part of our co-operative farming venture, we have decided to plant a dye garden.  I have my own dye garden out at my family farm, but I hardly have the chance to get out to it.  The farm garden will be a lot closer, and we'll have more hands to care for it.  

I ordered seed from Richter's Herbs and finally planted them last Sunday - and some of the plants, especially the safflower, are already quite big!  We'll have Goldenrod, Dyer's Broom, Lady's Bedstraw, Marigold, Tansy, Dahlia, Zinnia, Coreopsis,  and Weld.  We're also trying out Indigo and Woad, which yield beautiful blue dyes. I'll transplant down from my farm some Madder plants.  Madder is historically one of the most important dye plants in the world.  Madder root can produce colours ranging from orange to rust, brown to pure red.

I'll be posting more the dye garden here, and on our Beehive blog, all summer. 

Last Saturday, I direct sowed some vegetable seed in the garden:  lettuce, spinach, arugula, mâche, beets, turnips and radishes.  It has rained so much this week I was worried that maybe my seeds would be washed away, but here they are, tiny arugula and turnip leaves.

The wire you see over top of the seed bed is to protect my vegetable from the rabbit who has been visiting my yard all winter.  Last year he ate all my bean plants!

Under the cold frame, my eggplant and tomato plants are suffering a little from lack of sun, but the forget-me-nots in the frame are pretty content.

Asparagus spears are poking up their heads as well.

My rhubarb is pretty happy with this cool, wet weather.  So there are many things to be cheerful for.  But perhaps most exciting of all is what grows hidden beneath this large upturned planter.

Several weeks ago, when the rhubarb was just beginning to come up, I put this large black fibreglass pot overtop of the emerging shoots. Traditional rhubarb forcing pots are made of terracotta, but any large pot will do - this one is very large, about 24 inches tall, by 18 inches in diameter.  The small hole in the bottom of the pot allows a little light inside, and the pot creates a warm little house to bring the rhubarb on more quickly.  The stalks will reach toward the light, growing tall and straight, keeping the whole stalk bright red.

 Is it not just beautiful?  I'll pull some of this lovely rhubarb soon.  The rain has stopped, the sky is brightening, and the birds are chirping. It's election day, and it's time to go vote!

There are some creatures who love this wet weather!

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