There is no more exciting place to be than a vegetable garden in early spring. Right now the rain is falling in an even drizzle from a heavy gray sky that promises more rain in the next few days – perfect weather for seeds and seedlings. Less perfect weather for gardeners, so I’m letting my boots dry by the heater and drinking a cup of tea, and waiting for the worst of it to pass over before I go back out to sow more peas.

The cover crops did well over the winter, sheltering the soil beneath a carpet of surprising green. I’ve turned most of them in with our rototiller in the past two weeks. Next, I aim to finish dressing the beds and raking some rich leaf compost over the turned soil. I’ve decided to take to heart the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt, “The Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.” So I’m prioritizing starting this season from the ground up. Healthy soil grows healthy plants that produce healthy food. I’m excited to see how the cover crops fed the soil through the winter. The lush vetch and crimson clover promise good nitrogen fixation.

My grow trays are full of seedlings – tomatoes ‘Golden Pear,’ ‘Hungarian Heart,’ and ‘Mr. Stripey,’ broccoli ‘Purple Sprouting,’ lettuces ‘Lollo Rossa’ and ‘Black Seeded Simpson,’ melon ‘Ginkaku,’ black cumin, and slow bolt cilantro have all sprouted well. I’ve given them all some good organic fertilizer, and they bask under the grow lights for 14 hours daily. Their space is nice and warm, and they are well-watered. Not a bad life!

Outdoors I’ve sown peas ‘Sugar Magnolia,’ radish ‘Rat Tail,’ lettuce ‘Merlot,’ and Poppies ‘Danish Flag’ and ‘Field.’ Shiny green garlic shoots dot the beds. Still to come are more peas, a beautiful rainbow of greens, beets, radishes, carrots, and more. Things move fast this time of year and though the garden is quiet now, in the next few weeks plants will be popping up in every bed. The plans I’m working from are beautiful, a vibrant tapestry of color and texture. I know they will pale compared to reality, as the garden beds fill with color, life, and of course, delicious local produce.

Stop by and visit next time you are at Tyler. I would love to walk you through the garden to show you what we have planned. As always, we will donate the food we grow to the Media Food Bank. I’m excited to share the bounty and joy of this garden.

The rain hasn’t stopped, but slowed to a soft patter on the windows. They say you have to make hay when the sun shines, and set seeds when it rains. So I’ll be out in the garden. I look forward to seeing you there!

Senior Gardener, Lucille’s Garden
Tyler Arboretum