Tuesday, May 3, 2011

finally- a good day for planting

daffodils in the front yard

It was too good of a day today to pass up the chance to plant the veggie garden.  Yesterday was cold and grey and still had some snowflakes falling.  I had to go to the north shore of lake Mille Lacs yesterday morning, which normally would be a fun thing to do, but was completely miserable in the wind and cold.  The ice was off of the lake- but just barely.  Ice was still piled up in big surreal iceberg like chunks on the western side of the lake, and icicles were dripping on the roofs of buildings.

All this on the 2nd of May.  But today the sun came out and the temperature was 60 or maybe 60-ish and of course I was stuck in the office all day in front of a computer.  So when it was time to take the kids to ECFE- I let Gita do it, and I stayed out in the backyard instead.

I had a lot of seeds to plant and about an hour and a half to do it, so it wasn't a leisurely as I would have liked.  I really look forward to planting the garden, but in the last few years- when it's time to plant, there's always a million other things to do, and it ends up being rushed and feeling like more of an annoyance than a pleasure. I never feel like I have the time to really plan it out right- say nothing about waiting for the right moon phase.

So I raked out the already spaded bed and hoed in rows for all of our cold weather crops.  I planted peas, lacinato kale, spinach, mustard greens, fava beans, radishes, carrots and broccoli as well as some warmer weather crops- zucchini and cilantro, since they usually seem to be pretty indestructible, and it is supposed to be May after all.

a new row of fava beans/
Fava beans are one of those things that most people here have never eaten, much less grown.  Pretty much every time I mention that I'm growing fava beans I get quoted the line from 'The Silence of the Lambs' complete with sound effects.  No-I've never had them with liver.  They are really good in a veggie curry though.  Gita tosses them in with about anything when they're in season and they're delicious.  At first I thought they'd taste like bigger lima beans because of the way that they look- but no-- they are way way better.  I wonder why anyone would bother with growing or eating lima beans after tasting fava beans.

In Minnesota, they're almost ridiculously easy to grow.  They like cool weather, and in 2009 we had two crops from the same plants since the entire summer was fairly cool.  Last year's hot summer gave us a bumper crop of favas early on, then nothing after mid-July.  I'm guessing this year will be another all-summer fava year.

The great thing about them, beside the ease of growing them and the flavor is the fact that they're also nitrogen fixers, like peas and other beans.  Apparently enough so that they are used in some places as a green manure, like soybeans or alfalfa or buckwheat.  Could it get any better- they taste good, grow well and improve your soil in the process?

Evans cherry waiting to bloom
The fruit trees have been on the verge of flowering and leafing out for about a month now.  It seems like the Evans Bali cherry in the backyard is getting impatient.  The buds swell, then wait, swell then wait.  Same with the new apricot and plum.  I'm getting impatient to see some blooms, but really should be glad that they're not rushing it, just to be frozen off by the next frost and lose an entire season of fruit.

I apologize for the low quality of the close-up photos by the way.  My camera doesn't seem to have a setting for taking close ups.  Every camera I've had before has had a setting for it, but not this one.  It's a great little camera otherwise.  Maybe someone has a tip.  It's a Canon Powershot SX120.  If you have a similar model, let me know if you've found a way to take decent plant photos.


  1. Hi Jeff, I came here via Gardenrant. I also garden in the twin cities--south Minneapolis. I like your writing and look forward to stories about the season. About your camera: I am sure you've read the owner's manual, but it might be worth a second look. I have a Canon--can't remember the model)and it has a macro feature within the manual mode. I also use the manual mode quite a bit to mess about with aperture and exposure time.

  2. Hi Jodi,

    The funny thing about this camera, and really the only downside so far- is that we bought it in Hong Kong and the instruction manual is in Chinese. We were on our way to visit Gita's family in Nepal, and our camera broke while we were visiting a relative on the way in Hong Kong. Since I had heard that the electronics stores were pretty interesting there- I decided to give it a try and bought a camera without knowing much about it.

    It's a great camera, but I mostly guess at what all the functions are. I could look it up online I suppose but I've never been motivated enough to actually do so.


  3. So, you're not learning Chinese to get through that manual, huh? I had done quick peek online re specs; I couldn't see that it has a manual function.