"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

March 31, 2017

Spring Planting

A photograph from my latest article at RethinkRural
on "
How to Plan and Plant the Southern Spring Garden."

I can't wait to get out in the garden this year. The boys have spring break during the first week of April and, in between rain drops, I plan to get the broccoli starts in, peas planted, some radishes and beets, and maybe some other "cole crops" if there is room in my four galvanized steel garden beds (which are repurposed water tanks for cattle).

I also need to start some annuals that you can't easily get around here: some heirloom tomatoes (mostly those can be found in nurseries here in Kentucky but not my favorite, "San Marzano"); lots of unusual zinnias; and a few other unusual heirlooms.

There is also an adjacent garden shed nearby which needs a massive clean out and complete reorganization. I'm hoping to corral at least one of the boys to help, even if I have to bribe or pay them–they are so busy these days with school and after school jobs at a nearby farm that we've hardly seen them! Every time we do, they seem to have grown another inch.

Despite our warm winter and early spring–which has faltered a few times with numerous short cold spells–the garden still waits for me. This is our tenth spring in Kentucky and I look forward to it every year: it is prolonged, often warm but not too hot, a time when we can open windows and turn off the HVAC altogether until the real heat comes in mid-late May.

There is a succession of emergent wildflowers along the roadsides and fields. There are wild storms which bring literal excitement to the air (and I have had a lifelong storm obsession). In May we are rewarded with several weeks of local strawberries and my rhubarb is in full-on pie mode (the old timers didn't call it "pie plant" for nothing). Mid-May is also the end of the boys' school year here (which starts again in mid-August) so then it really starts to feel like summer.

[And there is always spring cleaning... It was supposed to take place in March, but as our oldest son is graduating from high school in mid-May and plans to have all of his friends here afterwards, and other family, it's time to get serious, folks!]

How will your garden grow?

You come back when you're ready!



  1. Nice to see you're back!

    I love your cattle tank raised gardens...I plan to do something related: use plastic cattle lick tanks to make my garden. I have a never-ending supply of them and hate to burn them or take them to the landfill (the recycler doesn't take them). My only concern is whether they are constructed of a plastic that will leach anything harmful into my organic vegetable plants! They are extremely heavy-duty due to their nature as containers for mineral licks, outside in any kind of weather. I'm hoping that hardiness will help them retain their integrity. They certainly are indestructible most of the time.

    I plan to drill holes in the lower sides, not the bottoms, for drainage. I was told that this will encourage drainage and forego impaction...hope so! I despise weeding rows of garden, so I'm excited to have a more controlled way to deal with the weeds. I'm trying to think of a way to keep the weeds down in between the tubs and thought I might use the plastic that encases my silage! ..another experiment

    Right now it's cold and has been raining all week here, with a forecast of continuing precipitation next week. Oh boy. Time to seed oats also since they don't care about temperature much or ground conditions.
    Now it's time for me to stay awake until midnight when I check the cows, stay warm,

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