Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I often start weeding my perennial beds as soon as the weather breaks.  The onion grass is popping up waving, taunting me to dig it out.  It is impossible to eradicate this pest, and I've learned to pull it out when I do a general spring clean-up a little later on.  Nevertheless, it always returns the next year.  But because I've learned to be somewhat patient, the soil remains undisturbed so that the Woodland Phylox gets tall enough for me to recognize it from the weeds.  Every year I look at it, get ready to pull and then it dawns on me just what it is.  It comes up everywhere and then scatters its seeds for the following spring.  I don't mind that those white or purple flowers have a mind of their own and seed themselves in the darnedest places.  It doesn't matter since my perennial garden is supposed to be a free spirit made up of many wild flowers.  Today I noticed the Jack-in-the-Pulpits rising up out of the soil and unfurling their leaves.  Along with many other wildflowers, I have included hostas (which the deer think is their personal salad bar), azaleas, wild geraniums, ajuga, tiger lilies, bee balm, ferns, forsythia, burning bush, hydrangea, pachysandra, candytuft, spring bulbs and a bunch of other things that I can't even think of right now.  Some things do well, while other things languish and die.  I divide my perennials often and plant them in other parts of the garden - to share the wealth.  I've been working on this shade garden for 20 years and even now, it is in a state of change.  But I guess that is what gardening is all about.

The vegetable garden is doing great and I water it with my fish pond water as much as possible.  The wintered-over spinach just bolted and I think that the lettuces will soon follow.  But for now, we continue to enjoy fresh salad every night.  The strawberry plants have started to get little fruits and promises to be a good year.  The tomato plants that are in the hoophouses are looking very strong and have lots of flowers.  I planted a ton of tomatoes and I know that we are going to be making lots of sauce.  Since I transplanted the tomato and pepper plants (si 2/1) in the hoophouse the first of April, they got a great head start.  At night I zip them up as the nights are still in the 50s, but then I uncover them during the day so they don't bake.  On cooler days I unzip the top so that they are protected but ventilated.  Today in the open garden, I planted some of the tomato and pepper plants that were started March 1 (si).  It might be a little early for them, but we'll see.  Surely I can sacrifice a few plants for my experiment.  I could always cover them at night with a row cover.  The peas (ds 3/15) are starting to climb up the lattice and the bush beans (ds 5/3) are just coming up.  The kale and Swiss chard look good.  The only disappointment is the broccoli that I started Feb. 1 and transplanted into the hoophouse on March 1.  Only 2 broccoli starts survived and they look lost surrounded by all of the greens.  I noticed today that the Chinese cabbage is coming up and actually, I forgot that I even planted it.  One 4' x 4' bed is dedicated to flowers, which is kind of frivolous considering the size of my vegetable garden.  I just couldn't resist those beautiful seed packets.  This week, friends have been stopping by to pick up their tomato plants.  Hopefully they'll have another successful year too.

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