Garden Lifestyle

Spring Pleasures

Spring has sprung and there are many chores for the gardener.

  • The miracle of seeds--spinach seed only took 7 days to emerge from the earth. Click on pix to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • The garden soil has been amended, turned and mulched and is awaiting transplants. Note the "deer fence"--we strung line and wound flagging tape up and down as a visual barrier--along with some windsocks and kites for constant movement. So far, so good: seems to be working.
  • Plants are hardened off in the coldframe so they are acclimated to the cool weather after having been in a greenhouse. Many of these seedlings are awaiting transplanting, while the more tender annuals will go into the coldframe at night.
  • Red Russian kale is a favorite of mine for both looks and flavor; thses babies can be set out in cool weather.
  • Salad greens, kale, arugula, mustard, tatsoi, broccoli rabe, radishes as well as a number of annual herbs love the cool weather as you can see here.
  • Sowing seed right into the garden works well with salad and other types of greens, dill, fennel, cilantro, and chervil. Here I am experimenting with Renee's garden seeds--I am growing all six of her arugulas side by side, so I can see and taste the difference. Stay tuned for reports on this project.
  • Just-sprouted arugula seed exactly 10 days from sowing.
  • My neighbor, Denise Sharp of Sharp Farm in Brookeville, Maryland has a high-tunnel and her greens are quite a bit ahead of mine in the garden. In fact we harvested lettuces and cilantro from here over a month ago.
  • There are a plethora of salad greens to choose from--these are a cool weather crop that can go out early in the season. I cover mine with row cover when there is chance of frost.
  • We are all attracted by colorful blooms this time of year. I planted nasturtium seed in April and they are about 2-inches tall. These, grown in a greenhouse, can be put out in cool weather, however they must be hardened off first.
  • Is is hard not to be lured in by the basils and many folks buy them too early and then they just sit and pout. Basil likes 65 degree nights. The plants need sun and warmth, so do not buy them too early and have to put them in a window where they will get leggy.
  • I love this salsa package--great idea from this year's HSA plant sale sponsored by FONA. Herb festivals and plants sales are happening across the country. Just remember, these tomato and pepper plants will have to be kept in a coldframe until all danger of frost is past.

Ahhh spring–the awakening of the earth–and at last, this gardener can happily get her hands into the soil. Everyday is another delight as I walkabout and see what is popping up or slowly emerging. The progress from sprout to leaves, then flower engages me with each harbinger of spring. Some days, I can literally see plants grow more than an inch, or even two, from morning to evening. 

This spring has been cold, though there have been warm days, when I can peel off layers of clothes. We have had a fair amount of rain and lots of cool, grey days. The green growing things do not mind, so neither should we gardeners. Today I am bundled up in three layers, however I am going to set out to transplant, since rain is in the forecast for the next 4 to 5 days. So it is perfect to transplant the starts that are feeling cramped in their marketpacks.

There are still some tender annuals in the coldframe where they are hardening off. Most of the flats of seedlings are out of the coldframe and awaiting transplanting. Amendments have already been worked into the soil and much of the garden is already mulched so the top layer wouldn’t get dried out, crusty and hard. I just need to pull back the mulch, dig a hole, then turn the plant from its pot, carefully tickle its roots, and then place it in the prepared hole and gently replace the soil around the loosened rootball. I find that one of the most important things is to water the new transplants in as soon as possible. Give them a good drink; (don’t drown small babies!) and then come back and give them another drink so they are well-soaked. Tuck mulch around them–not too close to the stems–allow some breathing space.

One of the hardest things for me–and many others–is to wait to put out the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and basil. These plants should not be put out until well after your last frost date. They will not grow in the cool weather; in fact basil, will just sit there and pout. So be patient and wait until the soil and the weather has warmed sufficiently for these tenders. If you grow or buy them in advance, they will need to be kept in a greenhouse or coldframe until it is warm enough to put them out.

Click on the pix above to enlarge and read captions; take a walk with me and see what is happening in my vegetable garden.





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