The average March high temperature where I live is 42 degrees. The average minimum is 24, with an average mean temperature of 32 degrees. Today, a high of 82 is predicted. We’ve had highs of upper 70′s to over 80 for the past week. The lows have been just below 60.
I don’t know if this portends oncoming climatic disaster, but the warm weather is sure making it easy to get a jump start on a lot of this year’s preparation tasks in the garden. I’ve been taking advantage of the warm weather to clean out my beds of last year’s growth. It is something I’d have to do anyway, but it’s more pleasant working in a T-shirt.
In the past week I’ve pruned and cleaned out the raspberries, cut back all last year’s asparagus fronds and weeded the asparagus bed, pulled out all the corn stalks from last year’s two beds of corn, and cut down all the stalks in the Jerusalem artichoke bed. Yesterday, I hauled most of the debris to this year’s new compost pile and worked in the contents of one of the 55 gallon drums of household compost that will fire up and help break down the new pile.
But before I went to work on the compost, I moved my cold frame and seeded it with a mix of salad greens. I first had to harvest the greens that had already sprouted in the frame, left over from last fall. There was more than enough for Judy and I to enjoy a very nice spring salad of spinach, arugula, mache and lettuce.
After moving the frame to the new area I that had cleaned and raked up, I seeded it with several mesclun salad mixes, various lettuces, spinach, arugula, endives and mache. I watered it down, and with luck, we’ll be harvesting greens in a few weeks.
My new compost pile will reside where I had a three year old pile that was almost used up. I had previously sifted 6 five gallon buckets of compost to empty the old pile and cleaned out and raked flat the area. I laid down several inches of stalks and dry material and alternated layers of stalks with a couple 5 gallon buckets of the sludge from my compost barrel.
I’m getting much lazier about diligently following any rules for my compost piles. I rarely even turn the piles any more. I now have three piles: the new one, last year’s, and a pile two years old that is pretty close to being mostly broken down without ever being turned. I’ll sift that one into buckets and anything that won’t go through my one inch screen gets will get tossed back into the new pile.
As the year progresses, I’ll keep dumping green material, mostly weed harvest, onto the new pile. I always have a supply of compost if needed for adding to a bed or for making some soil mixes. I know my method is not perfect for killing weed seeds because I don’t get it to temperatures hot enough, but I live with my weeds. I believe that weeds are actually a very good thing to have in the garden and you have to control them just enough so they don’t get the upper hand.