sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

May 20, 2019

notes from the garden: mid-may
posted by soe 1:35 am

I’ve spent two evenings at the garden this week, pulling it back into shape after all the rain we’ve had and planting the seedlings I purchased at the beginning of the month.


When I arrived on Wednesday, I was greeted with bolted sorrel, as tall as I was.

Garden: May 19

By the time I left tonight, it looked a little better.

I’m growing at least three types of peas (I planted nine varieties, I think…).

There are purple and green pods:

Purple Peas

Green Peas

And then there are these pea plants, which are short and stocky and have what look like they should be black-eyed pea flowers:

Fava Bean Flowers

These are, it turns out, the fava beans I planted. Cool, eh?


My chard seeds are doing well, as are some of the other greens I planted from seed, although they’re way shorter.


I harvested four types of greens today that were turned into tonight’s salads. There’s definitely romaine, arugula, and mizuna, all of which I planted from seedling, and one other that has jumped up from seeds I planted — upland cress, I think.

Spring Onions & Bronze Fennel

The rest of my spring plants are doing well, too. As you can see, my spring onions have flourished, to such a degree that I’m going to have a little bit of a challenge getting my potatoes in. My mint, oregano, lavender, rosemary, and bronze fennel (which reseeded itself) are also doing well. I put hay (stolen from the garden’s decorative banana plant’s winter bedding) under my strawberry plants this spring, and it has so far had the benefit of keeping the slugs from devouring all my strawberries before I get to partake of them. I’ve gotten about a dozen berries out of the garden so far and hope to have several dozen more as the season goes on.

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April 30, 2019

notes from the garden: end of april
posted by soe 1:49 am

April Garden

I stopped by the garden yesterday to do some work. My pea plants are thigh-high now, so I’ve run the trellis up another couple feet.

My violets have all gone past, so I pulled out a bunch of the leaves (but not their roots) in an effort not to let their greens take over all my available space. I have to do this every April when they are way taller than the strawberry plants they share their bed with.


I planted both seeds and seedlings earlier this month and both are doing well. I should start harvesting some of the lettuce leaves next week, I think.

I weeded the back section of my plot, which is the worst spot, since it abuts the forest. I cut back the dead wood of the rosemary plant and pulled out a ton of the creeping groundcover vines that had infiltrated my space. I should be able to plant some additional herbs this coming week. (In addition to the rosemary, I have oregano, fennel, and mint growing back there. In with the strawberries and violets, I have a lavender plant I should move next fall…).

My sorrel has already grown so much it’s started to bolt. I picked a helmet’s worth (I forgot a bag and had to make do) of the biggest leaves and will do something with them this week. Maybe soup, maybe something else.


I also harvested one of the oniony things I planted last fall in my potato patch. I don’t know if it made its way into last night’s or tonight’s dinner or if Rudi is waiting to use

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April 14, 2019

posted by soe 1:27 am


For Poetry Month, another selection, this time inspired by my very purple garden plot:

The Violet
    ~Jane Taylor

Down in a green and shady bed,
A modest violet grew,
Its stalk was bent, it hung its head,
As if to hide from view.

And yet it was a lovely flower,
Its colours bright and fair;
It might have graced a rosy bower,
Instead of hiding there,

Yet there it was content to bloom,
In modest tints arrayed;
And there diffused its sweet perfume,
Within the silent shade.

Then let me to the valley go,
This pretty flower to see;
That I may also learn to grow
In sweet humility.

You are likely already familiar with one of Jane Taylor’s poems, one she composed with her sister, Ann, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” An early-19th century writer of works for children, Jane was noted by poet Robert Browning as one of his influences.

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April 9, 2019

notes from the garden, second week of april
posted by soe 1:35 am

I stopped by the garden yesterday after picking up some seedlings at the farmers market. Yes, I know I planted seeds just last week, but these will help tide us over until the seeds pop up.


It’s arugula at the top of the shot, mizuna (a mild mustard green on the left), and lettuce (a romaine, I think) on the right. At the bottom of the shot is my sorrel, which reseeds itself every year. (The grassy things on either side are clumping onions, which I think we planted the first year we had the garden and which we just let grow wild.


My croci petered out, but the daffs continue to look nice. I anticipate, though, that this will be the last week for them. My tulip, however, will either bloom this week or next. Right now, it is sporting some very fancy green bugs that match its leaf hue exactly.


The peas did not yet have to be strung up, since their tendrils only stretched to the top of my hand. I think Rudi and I will tackle that this coming weekend, though, because they’re only a few warm days away from needing it, and those tendrils are a pain to unwind once they’ve decided to latch onto the wrong thing.


Finally, my beloved violets have emerged! I’d seen them out elsewhere in the neighborhood during the week, so I was hopeful mine had finally decided to unfurl as well. I did not collect a bouquet, since I was heading out, rather than home, from the garden, but I’ll be stopping back tomorrow or Wednesday for a nosegay (and some more in-focus photos).


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April 1, 2019

final march garden report
posted by soe 12:56 am

Plot: March 31

I really thought last week’s garden update would be my final one for the month, but the difference a single week makes is so singular, I had to show you!

My peas:


My spring onions are carrying on:


My daffodils, which contrary to my previous report are mini daffs and which have since grown to a normal height:


My crocus is a gorgeous stripey one:


My violets are still being a little shy, but I expect they’ll have found their confidence by next weekend. I transplanted a bunch more from the front of the garden to the back.


Today, I planted a bunch of seeds — chard and arugula and lettuce and the like. I didn’t have any spinach seeds to plant with me and I need to go through my master garden bag to see if they’ve gotten separated from their seasonal brethren or if I need to acquire a new packet.

Next week, I need to rake out the strawberry patch and dig out the back of the garden, where I usually plant herbs and a pepper or two. I moved our mint over, because we’re going to lay piping around the garden to help transport water and the spigot is in my plot. Our garden manager thinks I’ll be able to reclaim that territory once the piping is down, but I figured it was better to be safe than sorry.

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March 26, 2019

garden progress, end of march
posted by soe 1:42 am

A month ago, I headed down to the garden to start putting it in order and to plant my first round of peas. I’ve since put in two more plantings of peas and will add one more this week. This is my measurable progress so far:


I don’t have a whole row of tiny shoots that look like this. I have one pea. But where there’s one, more will follow. A lot of what happens with peas happens below ground at first, so I’m not overly worried. So much of gardening happens on faith, doesn’t it? And I know from last year, when only two of us in the garden got pea crops, that unreasonable faith that February or March is a great time to plant in the mid-Atlantic is crucial, particularly since it warms up so fast here.

I planted bulbs last fall. My daffodils finally emerged. They are weird.

Weird Daffodils

Those are full-sized daffodils where the stalks pretty much don’t exist, so they’re hardly above the ground. They are pretty, though, and I could see their cheerful color from a ways away, so that’s the most important thing.

I also planted onions. Or maybe shallots. Either way, my potato patch is full of shoots, so they are growing as desired. I’m looking forward to finding out what I planted.

Edible Bulbs

My sorrel has repopulated itself and I can start harvesting that anytime I want some citrusy greens in my salads. I’m planning to head back down to the garden later in the week to plant some more greens — arugula and spinach and kale and the like.

What are you hoping to grow this year?

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