Monday, April 20, 2009

Sun, sun, sun, where'd it go?

Weeding in Saturday morning sunshine
The weekend of April 18-19 gave a nice illustration of the fickleness of Chicago's spring weather. The Saturday was gloriously warm, with bright sunlight and temperatures in the low 70s. A jolly assembly of volunteers new and old worked in T-shirts mowing cover crop, turning dirt and spreading the newly arrived compost on every available bed. One of our local rabbits made a quick dash for safety after he/she was disturbed from a newly dug burrow amid the hairy vetch underneath the row cover, only to reappear hopefully half an hour later with a mouthful of straw.

With many hands to help, we were also able to plant several beds with hardier crops:
  • three varieties of spinach next to the front fence
  • carrots and daikon in the regular "deep bed", newly leavened with sand and compost
  • a half bed of glazed-leaf collards, and
  • Windsor broad beans and sugar snap peas, surrounded by onions, scallions, beets and radishes, all in the "dodecagonal bed"

The garden overseerBack at the garden on Sunday, it felt like we had wound the clock back a month, with steady rain, no sign of sun and temperatures hovering around 50F. A valiant group of Chicago Cares volunteers worked with great enthusiasm despite the fact that any job resulted in getting soaking wet. We lifted the soil in many more beds, spread a thicker layer of compost onto all the unplanted beds and got a head start on bunny-proofing as many beds as our limited supply of stakes would allow. At the same time, a smaller group screwed the new gutter to the eaves along the back of the shed (one task where having a steady rain actually provided some benefit). After restoring our energy with brownies, we tucked the newly planted beds under row cover to insulate them a little from the forecast sleet and called it a (very wet) day.