The Dogwoods joined the party last week, and together with the Redbuds and the newly greened treetops, Judy Branch was decked out in full spring array. There are many things I love about life on Judy Branch. The quiet you can find here is something you could rarely find in any small town or relatively populated area. At night, the stars are the main attraction, with a variety of animal and insect calls and the movements of wind, water and train providing the soundtrack. Sometimes a little old time string band music or a lonesome banjo add another layer. The other night I was sitting on my porch swing with a gentleman caller - that's how we court in the Southern backcounty, on the porch swing - and I noticed a really bright light in the night sky. At first I thought I'd seen an especially bright shooting star. But then I saw it again. It took me a few minutes to figure out that the fire flies had arrived! It seemed too early for lightin' bugs, but there were a few out scouting the night skies of Judy Branch last week. I guess summer is getting ready to begin!
On the garden front, I've got my peas coming up in the garden. In pots on the porch I've got some lettuce, cherry tomatoes and cilantro coming up. I've even tried putting some okra in a pot on the porch, and it seems to be coming up. I may end up transplanting those, but we'll see how it goes! My oregano, thyme and lavender have come back strong, and I've got flats of seedlings of cherry and other tomato varieties, three varieties of okra, peppers, eggplant and basil. They've got a couple of weeks yet before I think they'll be ready to go in the ground, but I've moved the flats out onto the porch to let them get used to the outdoors. Today I've got to get my seed potatoes in the ground. This year I'm going to try a method I've heard about for some time - planting them in a trench and covering with straw. I'm planting Yukon Gold and Caribe varieties. Once I get those in the ground, I'm going to try to get my garden rows more clearly defined, add some taller stakes and chicken wire to my pea patch (it's a bit short right now), and get the netting up around my fence. Right now the deer are out in the woods having their babies, so I've not seen much of them lately. After last year, though, I don't want to provide them with any opportunity to eat up my young seedling vegetables as soon as they get an inch above the ground!