gather and grow

Homegrown, hand-spun living in the city

lettuce1Remember the salad greens I planted from seeds back in January? They now grace my plate every day as lovely, fresh-as-can-be salads. I’ll tell you exactly why I feel celebratory about such a simple thing.

April is known as “the month of the slug” here in the Pacific Northwest. Our rainy springs combined with all the cool, moist hiding places that most gardens provide means that vegetable starts — the very same ones you grew from seeds and lovingly tended through the late winter months — become vulnerable to armies of slugs as soon as you transplant them into garden. Last spring, I would come out in the mornings to find the salad greens shredded lifeless as the slugs had come and chomped on them all night. I was determined to try to prevent it this time. In addition to having the chickens ranging freely in the backyard all winter long (eating slugs and their eggs), I’ve tried three other methods and, it seems, with good results.

lettuce2Intact lettuce! All thanks to the copper barrier with which I surrounded the lettuce bed. Slugs can’t travel over copper, so as long as it’s continuous, it seems to be a fairly effective deterrent. Copper barrier is available in garden stores and is easy to put in place (although it will get costly if you’re using it for multiple beds). The second method is spreading crushed egg shells around the base of a plant, for slugs don’t like such dry, sharp surfaces either. Plus, the egg shells release calcium into the soil over time. (And unlike copper tape, egg shells are a resource we have lots of, available for free.) I’ve tried this slug-deterrent for our kale seedlings, and it seems to have stopped the nightly slug-fests. Thirdly, I’ve been doing some handpicking of slugs at night with a flashlight. There is of course also the “beer trap” method, but something about seducing creatures to a death-by-binge-drinking just feels wrong to me. No matter how slimy those creatures might be.

Let’s take a look at what else is going on in the garden…

kale explosionThat explosion of greens and yellow flowers framing the Swiss chard is last year’s kale, now bolting and flowering. I’m letting them go to seed and hoping to save the seeds in a few weeks. kalecollardThis beauty is a perennial tree kale/collard, propagated from cuttings. These plants grow very tall and produce year-round for many years. Dan and I got the baby plant as a gift back in October when we volunteered on the Bullocks’ permaculture homestead on Orcas Island. We kept it indoors through this first winter, and transplanted it a few weeks ago. Only then did some of the leaves start turning purple.

The radishes are growing vigorously…

radishAnd then, of course, there are the blueberries…

blueberry blossoms

One thought on “Spring garden update

  1. Karen says:

    It sounds like you are off to a good growing season.

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