Two days ago, with my Dad in mind, I planted peas on Mother’s Day, just as he had always done. Usually, my Mother’s Day garden is not even close to being ready for seeds. Last year, though, following the precepts laid out in Ruth Stout’s No-Work Garden Book, I covered my garden with a heavy layer of straw. Then, through the season, I neither fertilized nor weeded. Rarely, I gave the tomatoes and squashes some water.
Though I was late in getting the garden planted last year (because it took a month of hard work to turn over the sod, lay out the beds, transplant the berries and asparagus, fence in the space and move the straw), I was satisfied with how it produced. My biggest worry this spring was that the garden soil was perhaps too well insulated from the sun. I thought I might have to move all the straw away, to let the ground thaw out. That would be a daunting job, with my rickety old wheel barrow. That turned out to not be the case.
Sunday, with a stubborn pile of snow still covering the grass in one shady corner of the front yard, I ventured into the back yard garden to check out the situation. I pulled the straw away from the bed nearest the front of the fence, and gently worked up the soil with the rake. Earthworms greeted me right below the surface.
Heartened by that, I pounded stakes in at either end of the bed, ran a piece of blue yarn from one end to the other, dug a little furrow, and put in one long row of peas. I left room to add another row next Sunday, and another the Sunday after that, to extend the pea-picking season a little. Then, I pulled the straw away from one more garden bed.
Yesterday, that was the spot I worked in. I loosened the soil, staked out several narrow rows, and planted two types of spinach, leaf lettuce, corn salad and arugula. I hooked up the hose and watered everything in. Then, I moved the straw from one more bed, to let the sun reach it. My plan for today is to plant radishes and kale there. So far, I’m loving Ruth Stout’s method!
After working at the hardware store and then planting peas, my Mother’s Day treat was to take the dogs to Fox Lake. I brought one novel, my sketchbook, camera, and one bottle of beer. We had barely gotten settled when someone else pulled in…with dogs. Darla was willing to make friends, but Rosa Parks clearly was not. Even from the safety of my arms, she refused to quit barking, which was putting a damper on the experience for all involved. We moved on.
Because I didn’t want our outing to be cut short, I stopped the car at Hannigan Road, a mile short of our home. There, the dogs and I had fresh areas to explore, to see what spring was offering. It seems like an area that would be good for morel mushrooms, and I’ve been told that others have found them there. I don’t have a good eye for morel hunting. I once found a huge cache of the brain-like false morels, that are called “beefsteaks” here. Though there are a few old-timers that still eat them, the word is that they are not edible. What a disappointment!
As expected, I didn’t see any mushrooms. There were plenty of wild ramps in the woods, though, and the early woodland flowers are coming out, too. The Trout Lilies, named for their speckled leaves, are showing off their yellow flowers now, and I saw the tiny Spring Beauties, whose color is determined by the soil, in shades of white, pink and blue. The Dutchman’s Breeches had not yet opened to reveal the yellow pantaloon-like flowers they are named for, but their lacy foliage was a treat, nonetheless.
Today, the last of the snow has finally disappeared. Though it was a long time in coming, spring is here!