Beltane Thoughts and Garden Plans

Sundown yesterday was the end of Beltane. My Beltane evening included fire, a nice glass of red wine, and writing lists.

Beltane is often described as the beginning of summer, but that is only a part of the explanation. Beltane is the beginning of the light half, the planting half, the growing half of the year that ends on Samhain.  Much of these past months leading up to Beltane have been full of planning and dreaming and preparing. What you sow during the light half of the year, you reap during the dark. I am ready for some sowing!

I am always amused that the Eat Local Challenge starts on Beltane. That’s so fitting. We are putting our money where our mouths are. Literally! We are putting our ethics into action during the Eat Local Challenge. Since my challenge to myself is finding and trying new food plants for my garden, two of the lists were Have & Wish lists- what do I already have that’s coming with me to the new house, and what plants do I need immediately?

What I have: lemongrass, 2 different figs, 4 blueberries, 2 yuca, oregano, rigani, thyme, and a strawberry guava.

We have to start in the front yard. It’s been neglected the longest and is literally a huge area of unsightly weeds (sand spurs must die), two badly-placed tulip poplars, and some disconnected daylilies and roses. Those go on the “have” list, too. Much of the front yard will be native flowering plants and butterfly/bird food, but some plants that produce human food will be mixed in, too.

There are so many things to consider for the wish list: permaculture techniques, the state of the soil, budget. Permaculture design advocates lots of perennial food plants, native plants to attract pollinators, and combining plants to make “guilds”- plants that work well together.

I also have to consider water usage. Rain here is seasonal, almost monsoon-like, and I’m not willing to do more watering than a rain barrel can provide for. Anything planted in the front has to be able to tough out weeks with no rain after it’s established.

On the wish list so far for the front yard: more blueberries, Mediterranean herbs that will survive the heat (rosemary, definitely), sweet potato, sunchokes/jerusalem artichokes, roselles, and possibly globe artichokes.

This spot may become a tropical bed. It’s on the south-west corner, against a fence, and gets serious sun all day, but is protected from north wind. I thinking of trying bananas, edible gingers, turmeric, pandanus, and under-planted with Okinawa spinach and beach sunflower. This might also be a good spot for an African Keyhole bed since bananas are heavy feeders.

Winter is for thinking, dreaming, learning.  Summer is for doing. Summer starts today.

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