05 April 2009

Spring planting

Sure it snowed a little today, but spring is here. Yesterday I spent the whole afternoon in the garden and planted a lot of my spring favorites. First, I planted a variety of fava bean that I've never grown before - fave siciliane - sent to me by a fellow seed saver in southern Italy. The seeds are the largest fava seeds I've seen, and in a note he said they're delicious raw with parmesan cheese. I think our local cheese, Friesago Grano, from Shepherd's Way Farms, will be a beautiful accompaniment. Next, I sowed arugula and bok choy, followed by a row of swiss chard.

If you're a northern gardener who focuses on our summer delights like beans and tomatoes, I'd urge you to try a spring planting. The cool season things I just planted, along with peas and spinach, lettuce, beets, kale and others, all thrive in the early days of spring. Fava beans, for instance, should be planted early because they have to flower when the weather is still mild - if it's too hot the flowers will drop.

Occasionally a variety or two doesn't sprout. Perhaps it's because the ground was too cold or the seed was wet for too long. No matter, I can put in another row next week when it's a bit warmer and drier. But early planting leads to early harvests, and I can usually eat fresh leafy greens a month before my neighbors. Some northerners don't like to plant anything before Memorial Day, but if you wait that long you'll miss out on spring!

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