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Garden Lifestyle

Finding Delight in a Cold and Soggy Spring

Usually in Maryland as Memorial Day approaches, I have pretty much put in tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and basil, temps are in the 70s and 80s and I'm wearing summer clothes.

  • Spring garden: salad greens are growing fast, alliums and potatoes are happy too, tomatoes and peppers are pouting. The earth is ready for planting... just waiting until the soil dries out a bit and the sun shines. Click on other pics to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Nothing like the deliciousness of fresh-picked salad greens. We eat salad everyday this time of year.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Fall-planted garlic is growing with great gusto!
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Onions also like the cool weather. These have just been cultivated and now need wheat straw mulch to keep the weeds down.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Chilly chiles! The capsicums in the cold frame have been in a holding pattern for weeks. They have lost their bright green and robust look from 3 or 4 weeks ago and are hanging on.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • I recently transplanted a row of chiles into the prepared beds covered with black plastic. Forecast for next three days of rain so I thought it might be better than sitting in the coldframe.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Potatoes don't seem to mind the cold, wet weather.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Right now the lemon balm is happy and bright green. This lush green growth makes great syrup, shrub, tea, tincture, vinaigrettes, scones and goes well in strawberry rhubarb desserts.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Mediterranean plants like these sages are leafed out and full right now. However if the rain lasts too long, I will have to worry about fungal disease setting in.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • One of my favorite flowers, I sow nasturtium seeds in April even though it is a bit early for them and they seem to always sprout and do well for me. These spring nasties are adorned with raindrops.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Gotta love Mother Nature, who provides us with healing plants like this Pulmonaria (lungwort) that has polka dot leaves and both purple and pink flowers at the same time!
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Sweet woodruff is a lovely spring groundcover that does well in part shade. It is just beginning to bloom and imparts a lovely flavor of new mown hay and vanilla to baked goods and confections. We recently made a strawberry rhubarb jam infused with sweet woodruff which is rather divine. Now, time to prepare some May Wine...
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger

Usually in Maryland as Memorial Day approaches, I have pretty much put in tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and basil, temps are in the 70s and 80s and I’m wearing summer clothes. Not so this spring! It has been rainy and downright cold–my peppers and tomatoes are out there in a pout–and I’m wearing long sleeves, hoodie, socks and boots!

In my zone 7 garden, our last frost date has been moved to May 1 and usually it is safe to plant out the warm weather crops by then. Tomatoes, peppers and basil just sit and sulk in 50 degree weather–they like it best with hot sunny days and nights in the 70s. I’ve been waiting to transplant them–I have well over 75 chile peppers (remember Capsicum is Herb of the Year for 2016 and I am celebrating them bigtime!)–and they are holding in the cold frame now for weeks. They have changed from bright green, healthy and sturdy to a lighter yellow green and they are drooping a bit. I keep giving them pep talks to just hang on–it will soon be summer. (I find myself unconsciously humming “Here Comes the Sun” lately.)

The earth is so saturated from all of the spring rain, that it is best to stay out of the garden. Walking in the wet garden compacts the soil and spreads disease. However, I do enjoy walking around the yard and woods everyday to observe the daily changes in plants. Some seem to grow in leaps and bounds overnight.

Weeds and many of the more prolific herbs are growing like gangbusters as you can see in the photos. Alliums like garlic and onions like the cool weather, as do the potatoes. This is perfect weather for garden greens and the salad bed is honking. We have leafy green salads just about every night and they are so fresh and tender and delicious that they barely need dressing.

Today we celebrate the Full Flower moon. Happy spring wherever you are! How does your garden grow?


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