Dear Friend and Gardener
Monthly Archives: April 2010
About 12 years ago, Donny built me two "trellices" to flank an old wrought iron gate I had purchased at a flea market. It and they stand as the formal entrance to Big Garden with a little 3’x3′ brick entry way. At one time, my ambition was to pave all the paths in the same herringbone path – figured I would do one path a year without killing myself and sometime before death, it might be finished. Two kids and sports have postponed that plan…
Nonetheless, I did plant Trumpet Vines to climb up the trellices to form an arch over the gate. I had found the design for these trellices in either Garden Gate or Kitchen Gardener magazine and they were easy for Donny to build one cold February weekend.
So, why the love/hate relationship?
Trumpet Vines accomplished exactly the look I wanted and I can easily control the new sprouts on the vine so that I get the arch I wanted. BUT, I know now why they can be seen growing into trees along the side of the road – they spread their domain through underground roots and then send up new plants all over Big Garden. Now, I have to hack these out all season long. And, the original plants are as thick as established Wisteria – love that plant too but one must know where to grow it as it is strong. I am just waiting for the Trumpet Vines to tear down Donny’s trellices.
Crazy to believe I am writing about this so early in April. I am sure I have never done this so early in the year – makes one wonder about global warming…But, I am already hardening off my nasturtiums.
So, what is "hardening off" and why would one do it, let alone wonder about the timing – no puns intended, of course.
This is the step needed for all little seedlings to acclimate themselves to the big, bad world of the outside garden. This is how to do it:
One to two weeks before planting outside, bring the little plant babies outside to visit – first, in the shade, and then in increasing daylight – over the period of 1 – 2 weeks depending on temperature and wind/rain conditions. Once the seedlings have seen enough, planting them on a cloudy day is best – more about that step to come…
I hate to admit I was not too unhappy that Logan’s pursuit of yet another soccer trophy was cut a little short at the tournament this weekend… Do I feel guilty? Not really. We have no more room on the shelf for trophies, and I really wanted to spend some time in my garden.
Every few years, the best laid plans of starting all plants from seed gets sidetracked. This is one of those years – I am too late to start tomatos and peppers, and I just can’t wait any longer for a few herbs…
So, the local store was having a one day only BOGO event on some organic herbs/veggies. 14 pots – several with three seedlings in then – all for $20 and change. (I have not usually been a cost-conscious gardener, but the recent economy has changed my perspective.) I have grown from seed because I want veggies/flowers I can’t buy locally and I DO still feel that way, but a bargain when plans fall short is not to shabby either.
So, now 2 tomatoes and 4 peppers have been potted up until Big Garden’s raised beds are cultivated. I also started a kitchen herb pot to keep by the back door: practically every gardening book I have read about vegetable gardening has recommended that the Kitchen Garden by close to the kitchen.
In truth, Big Garden’s location was already dictated (and started) by the yard’s arrangement before I was smart enough to study those books. I grow a lot of herbs way out at Big Garden, but I have basil, rosemary, flat-leaf parsley and sage by the door for insurance (and earlier consumption).
I just got back from a business trip to Orlando where the flora was so different and so much further along than my Zone 6 Ohio garden. Little did I realize, with the uncharacteristically warm weather we had been enjoying before I left town, how much I could miss in only 5 days. Upon return this past Monday, I found the third wave of daffodils in full regalia (with the first wave already going to seed): in this batch, I have the smaller, multiple bloom per stem and extremely fragrant varieties that differ from the earlier, more traditional trumpets. Now, I am enjoying the fancier doubles with striations and bolder color variations. Unfortunately, this is the swan song of the ‘dils and already, the flowering plums, redbuds, and lilacs are out too – while I hate to say goodbye to the daffodils, more good things are coming too – 5 asparagus spears have popped up and I will be able to make a rhubarb pie for my father’s visit in 2 weeks. Let the true gardening commence!
This past Saturday was a glorious day – I simply can’t remember ever being able to get so much done in the garden/yard without rain and/or mud being involved. While we were getting ready for the family gathering for Easter the next day, Donny and I got started on cleaning up Big Garden. By now, you may know that I am a reluctant, if not resistant, fall gardener – it’s all I can do to get the new bulbs in the ground let alone clean up the mess I have been making all summer… I always have to pay for this each spring with delayed starting dates and sore hamstrings from the weeding and picking up of debris. This year was no different but with such an early start, I was able to recognize which muscles need the yoga stretches in time for the next round. Now, to get back to the Sun Salutions in time…
My very first gardening memory is a joke I tried to play on my dad for April Fool’s Day. I had to be somewhere between 6 and 10 and I simply told him that a frost had hit the daffodils in our yard and they were all past their prime. I remember this distinctly as Mar 29th is his birthday, so I always know the daffs will bloom by that date – something I rely on every year. Now that I have my own patch, I think of this every year and know when to expect them – sometimes a few weeks earlier now that the patch is established. And, because I chose early, middle, and late season bloomers, my patch goes on for several weeks. Heaven in a back yard!