Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Season Begins

     The weather in Hagerstown is finally warming up, the snow has nearly all melted and the ground is working on thawing. So, I spent yesterday afternoon planting peas. My hands ended up covered in sticky, cold, black dirt. My pants were soaked from kneeling in the boggy grass. It was liberating.

     Everything kind of smells awful right now. All the plants, worms, and bugs that died and froze over the winter months are finally getting a chance to rot, and the air is ripe with decomposition. Now that the layers of snow have finally melted from the compost pile, I can see that everything we piled into it over the winter is still fairly intact. There's not much soil there to use yet. This is why I apply compost to my bed in the fall, not the spring. It's just simply not usable yet.

     Peas are amazing plants. Not much really wants to grow well in our shady backyard, but legumes really take off. I usually notice germination within three or four days of planting peas, six or seven days of planting green beans and two weeks of planting cowpeas (a type of dry bean, much like black eyed peas, which is notoriously slow to mature. Two weeks is a good showing, really). I try to rotate my crops as best I can, so most of my garden plots are rich in legume-fixed nitrogen.
     Unfortunately, large quantities of nitrogen do not make up for a lack of sunlight. Leafy plants do OK in our yard, but non-legume fruiting plants tend not to do well at all. I will be continuing my attempt to breed a variety of tomato that plays well with the black walnut trees that line our yard (I got a few cherry tomatoes and two Marglobes that actually matured enough to save seed from them last year, so I do have hope that this isn't a pointless endeavor), but I doubt I will ever have high yields so long as the trees are blocking out the light.
     We would just have someone come in and cut down about half of the trees (I'm a real tree-lover, so I'd hate to see many of them go), but they're all growing right on the property line. I sort of doubt the owner of the building next door would kick up much of a fuss if we did have them cut down, but I have no idea what our legal standing is there. I'd have to find out the precise location of the property line (I doubt it's where the fence is, honestly) to see if any of the trees are completely on our property. If the trees straddle the line (which I think they all do), I'd have to get the neighboring property owner's permission to have the trees removed. It's much easier just to work with the trees than it would be to work with a landlord living in Baltimore.
     In related news, Hagerstown now has a community garden! Hopefully it's only the first in a series of gardens all around the city, but I am one of the lucky few to benefit immediately. The garden is only two blocks from my house, and for only $30 my husband and I have reserved a 12'x19' plot. No word yet about the start-of-season meeting, but the check has been cashed and the city's website lists the 21st of this month as the day when plots will be available for planting. We'll see.

Here's some links on growing peas:
Ohio State University Extension
Growing Peas 101 (
All About Growing Peas (Mother Earth News)

No comments:

Post a Comment