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Dear Methow Gardeners,
By Jane Gilbertsen 

May 19, 2011                                                                                                            

Today is glorious.  I have recovered from the Rendevous Ride and am ready to re-hit spring chores.  The overwintered spinach remains pretty stunted but the crucifers and greens I planted out on May 1 survived the sun and hail.  I put a contoured sheet over a goofy wire frame to shield them from the hot sun.  It blew off and over but apparently lasted through the brief sunny period so all was well.











The husband's Spring list to-do started with manure management.  Here you see Harvey the Mule helping Steve "consolidate" the herbicide-free winter manure into a lovely pile.  Eager vegetable gardeners came to load their trucks and the remainder of the manure has now been spread by a harrow over the field.  You can still see a few of the real farmers around here harrowing their cow pies.  Returning the grass to the grass is nature's way.  Harrowing just moves the process along spreading the fertilizer evenly and letting the grass regrow under the pie.  Easy process with fossil fuel.

mule and tractor

The chickens know it is Spring.  They are fighting to all lay eggs in the same nest box.  These Barnvelders are heirloom Dutch chickens.  Still just pullets (hens under 1 year of age), Gertrude, Portia and Ophelia laid eggs all winter without supplemental light.  Their eggs are getting bigger as they age.  Nevertheless, the Barnies have produced some great healthy beautiful chicks that are finding their homes around the Valley this Spring.


A few chicks went to the happy home of Dean and Colleen.  Dean works part-time at Wildhearts and works full-time at home.  He has built a terrific cold frame in an effort to grow salad greens in this cold and strange Spring.  I love this design.  Cute counts with me.  And it appears to be working well.  The cold frame is the perfect answer for the eager gardener.  Native people craved greens as Spring approached.  The true gardener craves their OWN greens!

Hot frame

My to-do list started with building more chicken coops to be ready for the ever growing egg operation here.  I am now ready.

Chicken Coop

Jane GilbersonGarden chores were not a problem.  We left the garden in good shape last Fall so I would not be overwhelmed this Spring.  I knew I would be preoccupied with hatching chicks.  So when the snow melted most of the dead perennial tops had been cut off clean and either removed or chopped and tossed back down on the bed for this year's mulch.  This left the beds tidy and the daffodils and Spring bulbs are able to shine without obstruction.  The only clean up needed was the removal of the fall bloomers, seed bearers for bird food and those plants that provided fall interest.  Oh, and yes, all the beds needed careful removal of those sneaky encroaching grasses (creeping Quack and seed starts).  The dead vegetable stuff was piled up and buried under a load of manure.  It will do a great job with the corn, tomatoes and squash but still a little heavy duty for the early cool season starts.

Enjoy each sunny day.  The sun is driving the plants and if you listen to your body - you will feel it driving you as well!

Thanks for reading,


Posted: May 19, 2011