A Little Spring Planting
I am exhausted. Totally and utterly exhausted. But in a good way. My legs are wobbling like jelly and my arms feel like they’re about to fall off. My forehead is covered with little streaks of clay from where I brushed my hair back from my face. Freckles are beginning to appear on my nose, reaffirming my Celtic heritage.
The sun has been shining brightly in Lithuania for the past week or so and we have hit the garden, anxious to get some planting done. My herb boxes have been doing well – I have coriander (cilantro), lemon thyme and rosemary ready to eat and my chilli plants are growing nicely. Their sunny windowsill positions seem to be suiting them perfectly. This week I planted tarragon, flat parsley and basil seedlings into further boxes. I have now run out of windowsill, so any further herbs will need to go outside. I’m still hoping to build a greenhouse using old windows from our house renovations, but I think it will be a while before we get round to that, so windowsills will have to suffice for the moment.
The garden around the house is in need of a little colour so I decided to plant some flowers. My planting time is limited this year due to the renovations so my flower choices are dual purpose – nasturtiums for summer salads and sunflowers to produce seeds for the hens. Neither takes much tending once they have a sunny spot, although the sunflowers will need to be staked at some point to prevent them from tumbling out onto the path.
With the flowerbeds done I headed to our vegetable plot. We actually have quite a bit of land around the house but I’m starting with a small plot this year to make sure it’s manageable, both in terms of maintenance and harvesting. I was very busy last September just trying to harvest all the fruit from our trees so I don’t want to add too many vegetables that come in around the same time. I bought quite a selection of seeds (they were extremely cheap) but have yet to decide what I’ll plant. I might grow small amounts of a number of different vegetables to see what grows well in our soil and climate.
I’ll definitely grow a few varieties of lettuce to eat over the summer, some French beans and broccoli. We go through quite a lot of white beans, most of which we buy from our Farmers’ Market, so I know they can grow here. I’ve never tried them, though – I’m not sure how much work they’ll be as I know they need to be tied up when they begin to grow tall. I’ve concluded that the worst that can happen is that I’ll waste a bit of seed. If I get anything out of it – either vegetables or lessons learned – then it will have been worth the effort.
Our neighbour came round with his tractor and turned over the vegetable plot. Arūnas then set to digging a few raised beds and I got busy hoeing and raking, trying to break up the soil. There were quite a few big old roots embedded in the soil and it took quite a bit of work to dig them out. After several hours we finally got three beds more or less ready for planting – they just need a final rake and a good douse of water.
Speaking of water, keeping the plants watered is going to be good exercise in itself. Water is relatively expensive here so I plan to use what I can from a reservoir about 100 metres down the road. I’ll have to alternate my bucket-carrying arm to ensure I don’t end up lopsided!
The sudden arrival of the sun has given the garden a spurt of growth. Grass and weeds seem to have shot up overnight. The garden is full of dandelions and other lush green weeds which I am feeding to the chickens. I bought myself a second-hand push mower at the market on Sunday so that I can clear a little section of weeds each day for my girls. If I ever do get an egg all those yellow and green plants will give yolks a beautiful deep colour.
We’ve really barely scratched the surface and already I’m exhausted. It’s a very happy kind of exhausted, though, because it’s all my own choice and because I know it will be worth it in the end. And on the plus side I’ve been sleeping very, very well.