The garden comes alive in May. The wrens, robins, and Mourning Doves bring the music, punctuated by echoes of Sandhill Cranes. The flea beetles and aphids have emerged with the ladybugs and bees. Even the pocket gophers are diligently digging, a few of them disturbingly close to my seedlings. The garden plants are growing fast, having survived the wind and hard freezes of mid May.
The tomatoes, peppers, and lone eggplant weathered temperatures as low as 22 degrees F in their water walls. Only the tips of the tomato leaves that had overgrown the water walls showed frost damage, and the first tomatoes are on the vine.
While the carrots in my outside garden are still working on their second set of leaves, we’re eating carrots that I planted in November in the hoop house. A few carrots became confused by their winter planting date, sent up flower stalks, and grew too woody and tough to eat; I harvested the rest of them while they were still tender and filled my refrigerator drawers.
Our summers are too hot for radishes and my favorite salad green, arugula, so I plant these quick-growing Brassicas in March. They make spicy and delicious salads despite the early flea beetle damage.
The garlic is at its prettiest. The outer leaves will soon brown and I’ll harvest and cure the heads in July. One bed provides a year’s worth of garlic plus cloves to replant in October.
The rest of the spring crops are in the ground, including lemon cucumbers and four varieties of melon seeds in the hoop house; summer and winter squash seeds (currently sharing a bed with the peas); green and purple bean seeds; and artichoke, basil, and ground cherry seedlings from their windowsill.
The hills surrounding the garden are in the midst of their own rebirth, transformed from white to brown to green, and soon to yellow from the balsamroot. It’s time for me to temporarily trade digging for trail running and cultivated seedlings for wildflowers in the hills.