Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday the 27th...of April. Guess what that means.

When I moved to the mountains where my father already lived, he told me to never plant before May 1st up here because frosty mornings are far too common past the recommended planting date for the region.  Every year, Dad's advice has proven to be correct and even his warning that there may be freezes well into May.  We have seen it snow and freeze on occasion in that warm month, but for the most part, I can go ahead and plant on May 1st and avoid any frost damage.

Well, today is Friday, April 27th, and though we have just had a few cold nights I am going to go ahead and get my poor tomatoes, squashes, and cucumbers into the ground this weekend, weather permitting.  They have been growing in our breakfast room window all year and are beyond scrawny, ready to stretch their legs in a nice warm bed of deep, enriched mountain soil.

A couple of summers ago I planted parsnip seeds everywhere and completely forgot about them until I was digging a new terrace and path in the garden the following spring.  I kept coming across bushy weeds with enormous white taproots.  Being a Florida girl and new to gardening, I was still learning what indigenous plants grow in this region, so was dumbfounded and kept tossing the roots and greens to the chickens.  They eat everything that grows around here, so I just crossed my fingers that they weren't toxic plants.  Suddenly, when one of the roots broke off in the ground and I sat holding the other end I realized I was smelling parsnips.  Dummy.  Dummy, dummy, dummy.  I salvaged what I could and dug the rest and learned a great lesson that day.  If you let parsnips overwinter, they grow rapidly in the spring once the ground warms up.

I tried this trick with carrots in the fall and just look what I was able to bring into the house in the spring!

I haven't needed to buy carrots for weeks!  They just stayed in the ground until I needed more and would go dig them.  The last batch is in the refrigerator now.  We even use the greens in salads and soups.

So with the addition of my warm weather crops that I will plant this weekend I will have yellow and zucchini squashes, russet potatoes, lettuces, kale, radishes, carrots, two kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, sugar snap peas, onions, garlic, parsley, basil, thyme, and bell peppers in the ground.  My broccoli is staggering along, so I'm not sure if we will have broccoli to harvest this year.

A flock of new chicks, Americanas to go with our mixed batch of beautiful birds, are growing by leaps and bounds and will be released to the outdoors a few weeks after the garden seedlings.   They lay greenish blue eggs and I can't wait to see them!  What an egg bucket we will have in the fridge filled with duck, bantam, "Easter eggs", and the brown ones we get from the other girls.  The brown eggs we dye every Easter turn out beautifully in rich, dark, earthy tones so I wonder what will happen when we try to dye green eggs.  I will have to serve my green eggs with ham, on occasion, that's for sure!
Our dyed brown chicken eggs (larger eggs in the photo).  Aren't the little dyed bantam's so cute?!

The chicks are all feathered out now and have teen aged chicken "squawks" mixed in with their "peeps".  I wish I had taken pictures of them when they were fuzzy and small.

Happy warm season everyone!

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