Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Long Winter

This is our veggie garden today, March 30th, under 6-8 inches of fresh snow!  Some years the sugar snap peas, spinach, lettuce and arugula are already planted.  The last twenty plus years winter has gradually come later and later, and spring has gradually arrived later. 40+ years ago we considered it a mild winter if we didn't get snowed in at least once before Thanksgiving (the end of November), and March was quite often very mild.  This year we had mild weather until mid-late November, and obviously very chilly this March.  The snow you see above is what we get when it snows just below freezing. The snow is so heavy from holding so much water, it's like shoveling concrete.  The snow we had a couple weeks ago at 10-15 degrees F was light and fluffy, and oh so much easier to shovel! 
20 years ago the garden was segmented off into roughly 4'x4' or 4'x5' squares with 10" wide wooden planks between them.  These proved to be a little too wide to comfortably reach in the middle of for planting and weeding, so the plan is to till up the entire area this spring and section off into 3 1/2' x 8' rectangles, with 12" wide planks in between for a little more comfortable walking width.
Aside from taking more time to set up initially, having set areas for planting and year upon year adding mulch repeatedly between the short rows of veggies has cut the weeding down by, say, 80% or more, and not tilling (after the initial set up) presents the opportunity to plant seeds much earlier by simply pushing mulch aside.  (Fresh grass clippings stay put the best.)
  Normally every fall when each section is finished producing , it is weeded, 8-10 overlapping layers of black and white newspaper (or one layer of untreated cardboard) is put down, followed by a 3"-4" high layer of grass clippings.  That didn't happen with some of the squares this past fall for lack of time, as evidenced by plant stalks poking up here and there in the photo.  (For the squares that aren't cleared until late October or November, the remaining plants are usually cut close to the surface before adding paper and at least 4" of mulch.)  To the right are the ever bearing red raspberries.  They are corralled in by wires covered with pieces of old hose to keep them from cutting into the canes on windy days.  Some people place a single row of stakes and taut wire down the center with additional wires holding in the canes, but with the wind we have here, the above set up seems to work better.  At the top left is a small patch of  2nd year black raspberries, waiting for a similar set up to keep them off the surrounding grass for ease of mowing.  There is 6'-7' of lawn between the black raspberries (AKA black caps) and the veggie garden.  There is only 2'-3' of mulched space between the red raspberries and the veggie garden, which is no where near enough to keep the raspberry shoots from  popping up in the squares all spring, summer and fall.  By the way, the biggest, juiciest raspberries are always the ones growing in closest proximity to horseradish plants!

Although there isn't any food available for the body from the veggie garden right now, there is always food for the soul available!  At you will find a short but great  video that includes some of the many verses in the Bible that tell of the infinite love God has for you.  There is also a spot to print out a shorter version to take with you to read for those times we all need a reminder of His ever present love and help.  If you would like more thought provoking and encouraging material, I recommend checking out the live services online at, and the podcasts available of previous services.

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