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Organic garden report: Spinach, mesclun, and new growth

Posted Aug 24 2008 3:21pm

almost fit flowers “When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.” ~Author Unknown

If you’ve been to Oregon in the spring, you know that it is an unusually unpredictable time of year for weather. Granted, in every season in the Pacific Northwest there are always oddly spaced hot, cold, windy, and wet days; but spring is an especially volatile mix of late freezes, occasional heat waves, and tropical guests in the form of a warm torrential downpour. The sun teases you with 90-degree spells encouraging the optimism that summer has arrived early, suggesting that you to box up the wool overcoats and knitted scarves for the season, only to dash those hopes the next week by wrapping it’s chin in a dripping cotton beard.

In Oregon, it is not uncommon to have yesterday’s sunburned shoulders under today’s winter coat.

flowers Although this may be frustrating in terms of wardrobe and recouping some vitamin D, the meteorological variety can do wonders for a garden. Freezes notwithstanding, a searing hot couple of days followed by a few days of clouds and rain (lather, rinse, repeat) can encourage even the most reluctant root vegetables to spring up a start or two. We’ve had just such weather this year, and the organic garden project is going crazy.

Lettuces do particularly well this time of year. Our current harvest includes spinach with leaves the size of footballs, heads of romaine, and a terrific mesclun mix. Of the few items we’re buying at the Farmer’s Market, we’ve been particularly enjoying beet greens. Beets are one of those foods for which I am still working on acquiring a taste, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the greens. Lightly cooking the greens with a vinegar base is a simple, pleasing way to develop an appreciation for what’s in season.

Our tomatoes are getting a slow start, but the strawberries in the children’s garden are already full of green berries just waiting for some heat. The sugar snap peas are also sprouting like crazy.

mesclun Beyond the garden, the weeds in the flowerbeds are insanely aggressive, some of which shoot up nearly a foot a day. Where there was winter’s pine needles and moss, there are now patches of weeds nearly three feet tall. After spending some time pulling the obvious offenders (and a few others that my wife may have wanted to keep…oops…), we’re starting to get ahead of it again, but it is a constant effort during the spring months.

We are also fortunate enough to have had the original owners of this house take great care to plant trees and bushes that flower in turn throughout springtime. Japanese maples, a fully mature silk tree, rhododendrons, and plum blossoms give the air a translucent glow and intoxicating scent, particularly in the early morning and late evening.

Although the weather can leave something to be desired when you’re trying to plan a picnic, we love living here. There are few places more beautiful, clouds, sun, and all.

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