Awhile back, I read a tongue-in-cheek comment that the largest crop grown in the state of Maine is actually rocks. I chuckled at the time, thinking it to be hyperbole. That lighthearted chuckle has turned into more of a rueful laugh as I begin my third season as a Maine gardener. I truly think they’re multiplying.
There was an existing garden plot in our yard, a nice large, flat space with plenty of full sun and a row of rhubarb going gangbusters. I know there are pitfalls to moving into someone else’s dirt – soil exhaustion, potential chemical use by the previous gardener, etc. There were some pros for us too though – mainly the great location and the time saved by not having to break fresh ground. We are already a little late getting started.
So I’ve spent quite a bit of time turning the garden soil by hand over the last several weeks. It’s been slow going as I pick out broken glass and remove the rocks. So many rocks! The no-till method makes sense to me, so instead of renting a rototiller, I’ve been using the spade to dig and turn, breaking up clumps by hand. It’s allowed me to remove most of the weeds by the root, hopefully making my job easier in the coming months. The soil’s not great. It’s sticky and almost clay-like, but there are lots of worms and bugs squirming about, which is encouraging. I had hoped to mix some composted manure into the dirt before planting, but just couldn’t make it happen, so I’ll be adding some as more of a mulch, and will make sure to put the garden to bed properly this fall, which will make a world of difference next spring.
The strawberries look really happy. J’s lab partner gifted us several transplants last spring, and they made the move with us, perking right up once in the ground and even flowering. I’ve got almost half the plot turned now, and have put two rows of veggies in: tomatoes and peppers. But they are sad little plants right now, shivering in the cold. Our sunshine has been elusive this spring, and I’m hoping it will make an appearance soon. The weather has been strange all around, really. We had a doozy of a thunderstorm today, hail bouncing around the yard.
I’m going to direct seed carrots, marigolds and zinnias tomorrow, and I have a small pack of pickling cucumber seedlings to go in. We’re going to attempt a sunflower house, too, and I’m sure the rocks will continue to spread. They self-seed, you know, and it looks to be a bumper crop.