Garden Notes: First Real Spring Weekend

Image by shannon_turlington via Flickr

Here it is, mid-April, and for the first time we had a Saturday that wasn’t rainy and chilly. Spring was late-coming this year, and it still doesn’t seem to have fully arrived, judging from the weather forecast for this week. But at least we were able to get out in the yard and start the garden prep. I aim to keep a gardening journal this year on this blog, as we are getting more and more serious about our vegetable garden.

We really did start last weekend, with cleaning out the decorative and herb beds, but that wasn’t very interesting. This weekend, our goals were to clean out the vegetable beds, and my husband wanted to build another box alongside the two we already had. But before we started, we had to take care of a surprise we found in one of the beds.

Cilantro is one of those herbs that I cannot grow. It always, always dies on me, and the cilantro I planted last summer was no exception. We didn’t harvest any. So it was pretty surprising to find, growing among all the weeds, a large and healthy cilantro plant. I cut it down yesterday, along with the parsley that overwintered. You can see how much I got in the photo. I plan to make cilantro and parsley pesto to freeze, as well as a mixed-herb marinade for grilling chicken this week, seeing as how all the other perennial herbs are coming back as well.

So I guess the lesson learned is that cilantro, like rosemary and small children, only thrives when ignored. (Just kidding about the small children.)

After the cilantro was cleared, my husband tilled under the remaining weeds and transferred out the spent soil. He then built a third box alongside the first two and mulched a path between them. Fortunately, my labor wasn’t required for this part of the proceedings. Over the next weekend or two, we’ll finish up the mulching and continue enriching the soil. I plan to plant two or three complementary vegetables in each box, along with a mix of flowers, herbs and ground cover, following the precepts in the book Great Garden Companions (a good reference if you’re a raised-bed vegetable gardener). My hope is to keep weeds and pests to a minimum and end up with vegetable garden boxes that are good-looking enough to be in the front yard (which is, of course, where they are since it’s the only spot that gets any sun).

Here’s the new box in progress:

And here’s my husband putting in the path between the boxes:

I intend to post weekly updates on our progress.

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6 thoughts on “Garden Notes: First Real Spring Weekend

  1. pam 19 April 2009 at 2:47 pm

    I also can’t grow cilantro. It goes to seed after a few weeks. I did find lots of little sprouts, but they didn’t do much for me either!

  2. pam 20 April 2009 at 7:57 am

    I also can’t grow cilantro. It goes to seed after a few weeks. I did find lots of little sprouts, but they didn’t do much for me either!
    BTW I love your blog!

  3. Shannon 20 April 2009 at 9:19 am

    Hey, Pams – Thanks a lot! I thought it was funny that when I wasn’t trying to grow cilantro, I got more than I know what to do with. I made pesto yesterday, gave some away and still have a bouquet of it sitting on the kitchen table. I don’t even like it all that much. Too bad it’s not quite salsa season.

  4. Welcome « Blog Archive « My Blog 20 April 2009 at 10:32 am

    […] I chose the photoblog theme because I also figured that the best way to write about a garden is to show as much as possible. So for the first post, here I am in the garden, preparing it for the upcoming season. I’ve built a third box (shown on the right) and mulched between the boxes to make it all a more cohesive unit.  My wife posted some nice in-process pictures on her cooking blog, found here. […]

  5. […] week I blogged about an unexpected find in our garden: gigantic cilantro and parsley plants that had overwintered and needed to be harvested before we […]

  6. What’s Cooking in May « Simply Cooking 30 April 2009 at 10:21 am

    […] more creative and freer, since I’m not a slave to the recipe. So far, I have been inspired by herbs in my garden. Now that we have begun planting vegetables and the farmers markets are starting back up again, I […]

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