Garden and Orchard

Spring Weather, Early Crops, & Ducklings!

You can see my raised beds in this shot.
You can see my raised beds in this shot. There are some onion sets ready to be covered with soil. Everything else looks messy!

My Raised Beds Are Ready!

It seems too early for planting in my area. Normally I wouldn’t be able to work the soil until later in March, but we’re having some unusually warm weather this week. Most of my garden beds are still too cold and damp to work. However, I created some raised beds last year and they are warmed up, dried out, and ready to till. If you are picturing raised beds with frames of some sort, I should mention that these are really just mounded soil with no retaining walls. They are low maintenance, cost nothing to create (just some elbow grease) and can be reconfigured as needed. Since my garden is in a low spot that doesn’t drain or warm up quickly, the raised beds are definitely an advantage in spring.

Onion sets, ready to plant.
Onion sets, ready to plant.

Planting Spring Crops

I set up a Redneck Cold Frame in my garden a couple weeks ago and planted some spinach, kale, and lettuce seedlings under the glass. They are still adjusting to life in the ‘great outdoors.’ I’m hoping to harvest some greens for salads in a couple of weeks. I’ve also planted 5 raised beds with shelling peas, potatoes, onion sets, spinach, rutabaga, carrots, kale, lettuce, and parsnips. All of these veggies can be planted in spring as soon as the soil can be worked.

Soon I will also plant beets, turnips, and additional greens. The promise of spring salads straight from the garden is one of the reasons I get started as soon as I can work in the soil. I’m also planting seeds indoors for tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and more onions under lights indoors. The spring gardening rush is here!

Spring Weather
Khaki Campbell duckling from the feed store.

Robins, Cranes, and Spring Peeps

As I worked in the garden yesterday, I could hear the call of Sandhill Cranes overhead. Flocks of 20 to 50 or so were circling high overhead. Their chatter reminds me of my turkeys, who have been watching me work in the garden from their perch in a fir tree a few feet away. They were also interested in the cranes and I could see them cock their heads to the side, looking for the source of the strange bird calls. Killdeer, Redwing Blackbirds, and Robins were singing nearby…more signs of spring arriving in northern Illinois.

I have a room off the side of my chicken coop where I raise young poultry until they can join the rest of the flock. Right now there are 23 chicks and 6 ducklings under heat lamps in the brooder room. I’m excited to have two Khaki Campbell ducklings from the feed store this spring. Last year I ordered Khaki Campbells and ended up with Black Cayugas instead. They were very pretty and I did enjoy having them, but they didn’t lay as many eggs as I wanted. So they went to another farm down the road. Hopefully I will finally gather some Khaki Campbell eggs this year…unless I ended up with drakes!

I am having trouble coming inside in the evening, there are so many things to do outside with all the warm weather! I love this time of year. 🙂

Are you enjoying springy weather? Have you started planting your garden yet?