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Jessica’s Garden: The Spring Garden

What a gorgeous week it’s been to work outside. While it’s certainly been on the windy side, the temperature has been ideal for comfortably working around the garden. And even the rain has been beneficial. After all, April showers bring May flowers.

Compost Bin

We spent some time this week situating the new chicken coop. We are adapting a large section of our historic barn into a coop for our almost 30 member flock; now sporting ten breeds. While attempting to clear the space around the new coop, we decided it was time to assemble our yard waste compost bin from found materials. We salvaged a few pallets from the side of the road and the junkyard at work, some old tree stakes from my dad and rebar found in our shed. I’m calling this project “free.” While not the prettiest of creations, it’s completely functional for our needs. I wanted something to tidy up the yard waste pile, rather than the sloppy pile that’s continually spreading and gaining ground.

I have also planned where I am going to transplant my berry bushes and where I am going to build trellises for the hardy kiwis I recently acquired, and gooseberries. As of now, my berries are taking up valuable real estate in my deer-fenced vegetable garden. Not to mention, while the chickens are still inhabiting my garden, they are likely to destroy all new growth unless they promptly get relocated.

I was approached about a very unique and exciting opportunity from an old family and school friend. I have been asked to cultivate, grow and arrange wildflower bouquets and centerpieces for her Fall wedding. I am thrilled for the opportunity, while admittedly slightly nervous as well. But with a backup plan in place, I am feeling very confident that I’ll be able to provide an awesome and memorable product.

I’ve planned the 800 square foot cutting garden and purchased lots of varieties of sunflowers, zinnias and wildflower seed mixes from Botanical Interests that I purchased from Behnkes. The first batch of seedlings are already cooking in the greenhouse. I am planning on three separate seed sowings to ensure that something will be blooming come the end of September.  While I’m not convinced the sunflowers will still be flowering, my experience with zinnias is that they are prolific bloomers.  And the wildflower mixes are intended to bloom until first frost. While Late September is cutting it close, I am feeling confident that we will get lucky and the weather will cooperate until at least the first week in October.

I have also decided to plant a variety of herbs for greenery in the bouquets such as rosemary and sage. I am looking forward to having this space cultivated for future years and may even keep it as a space for an extensive herb and cutting garden.  The wedding is to take place at an arboretum and the wildflowers will be natural and whimsical.

Seed Potatoes

I’ve officially run out of room in my new greenhouse but still have a handful of seeds to get started. In addition to seeds, I like to start my seed potatoes in the greenhouse too. I plant them in salvaged annual pots and they always transplant well. I’ve taken to planting the potatoes in large tubs and buckets for ease of harvesting and garden space conservation.  As children, we always planted them straight into the garden. With more garden space at the farmhouse, I will likely do both.

French Fingerling Potatoes

The French Fingerling potatoes were a surprise to cut into. I was not expecting the vibrant fuchsia rings. I still need to get my hands on some blue seed potatoes and then I’ll be set. Unless I see something else that I have to have, which honestly is a distinct and likely possibility. With all the opportunities and potential awaiting this harvest season, I cannot wait to get this soil turned and my hands dirty in the garden.

Posted By: Jessica J. Crawford Behnkes Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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