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Garden Lifestyle

Spring is Bursting Out All Over!

Whether you are in the sunny South and already harvesting your brassicas,or in the northern climes where the early spring harbingers are just popping after the last snow--it is spring!

  • Dogwoods are in their peak of bloom in my neck of the woods! Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • The brassicas and hardy greens like kale and Swiss chard have settled in and have now been mulched. They will get watered with fish emulsion this week to give them a nutritional boost.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • More tender garden plants are awaiting transplanting in the coldframe, where they have been in the hardening off transition.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Onions were hoed for weeds and then mulched.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Plant sale at the USNA last weekend--we sold lots of herbs at the HSA tent. Look for garden festivals and plant sales where you can buy local plants.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Violets with raindrops--one of my favorite harbingers of spring. Both flowers and leaves are edible as long as they aren't sprayed with pesticides.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Although garlic mustard is an invasive plant, it can be harvested and eaten. Use it like any potherb; it has a slight hint of garlic.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • I welcome this often scorned weed--love the look of dandelions in my lawn and garden and I totally enjoy their bitter flavor in the kitchen.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • These little primroses are often called cowslips--they like my woodland garden that is shady with part sun--returning every spring.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Jacob's ladder is another delightful woodland spring-blooming plant that is easy to grow.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • How could we not love the little whiskered faces of johnny-jump-ups and pansies?
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Last though not least, my spring garden would not be complete without the lovely pink heart-shaped blooms of bleeding hearts.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger

Spring showed up here in my zone 7 Maryland garden at the end of March and then we had a blackberry winter and now we are in the thick of verdant green and every color of bloom. Nights are still cold–in the 40s–so tender plants like tomatoes, basil and peppers are still in the coldframe (pouting).

This past weekend, the Potomac Unit of the Herb Society had its annual plant sale in coordination with FONA at the US National Arboretum. Our large tent was chockablock full of herbs and native plants and we were packed with folks lined up to take them home; I’d reckon to say one of our best plant sales ever! We’ve all got the gardening bug.

It is very hard to stay indoors–like sitting here at the computer–when I would much rather be outside, seeing which new plant has popped up, or how high the Monarda fistulosa grew overnight or transplanting perennials and roots crops in this fourth quarter, Scorpio moon!

The forsythia and daffodils are long gone already and the dogwoods are full bore abloom. The trees are gloriously leafed out in many shades of green and I can hear and see how happy they are since just a few months ago they were naked of foliage and standing there bearing the dessicating winds and ice and snow! Some are raining down flowers like the pearl bush (actually a tree) at my back door. I love the white and pink petals that litter the earth seemingly like a snow shower of spring.

And oh my goodness, the flowerbeds are overrun with gaiety. Right now the bleeding hearts are peaking with their pink hearts, the catmint, lungwort, money plant and Jacob’s ladder are shades of purple along with the last of the violets and the many, whiskered pansy faces. Well of course, the bright yellow of our healthful dandelions pepper the landscape, along with the woodland poppies and then there are pale yellow cowslips. In shades of white, the hellebores are still going strong, the Solomon’s seal is gracefully arched over and laden with blooms, the lilies of the valley are heady with perfume, the fairies are partying in the sweet woodruff blooms and that invasive garlic mustard’s leaves and bright white flowers are being cooked like a potherb or made into salsa verde along with leaves of chickweed, dandelion, violets and nettles.

While my friend Marge Powell in Florida is posting her harvest of cabbages and making sauerkraut, the dear folks at Avena Botanicals and Urban Moonshine up there in New England are just posting the first signs of spring in their chilly climes. My kids in Cali are eating bounteous greens from the garden.

In my vegetable garden, things are progressing nicely. The brassica and hardy green transplants have finally taken hold and I see that they have grown in size. The onions are about six-inches tall, potatoes are planted though not up yet–and all were just mulched with wheatstraw. Regrettably, we missed planting our fall garlic for like the first time in 25 or 30 years–I was traveling and it just didn’t happen. So I planted a spring crop, which I know will produce smaller bulbs, though I am setting my intent that I will still get a bountiful harvest (small bulbs are better than none at all!).

I am awaiting the new moon, which is just a few days away, so I can get the aboveground crops in the ground, which should coincide with our last possible frost date–so peppers, tomatoes, basil and tenders will go into the vegetable garden in the next week or two. The perennial herbs–monarda, lemon balm, oregano, sage, lavender, savory, anise hyssop (herb of the year 2019), hops, and more are growing in leaps and bounds and all of those beds need weeding and mulching.

On this last day of April, I hope that you get out in your garden; tomorrow is the first of May already–happy May Day! Tell me what is growing in your garden?



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