Monday, April 30, 2018

April's Garden (2018)

This horrible sight is my garden!  The one word which describes this month's garden would be "failure".  The sun has failed to shine, the rain has failed to stop falling, the temperature has failed to rise, and my seeds have failed to sprout. It has been too cold and wet to do anything. A typical month of April. It isn't just me but none of the other gardeners in my neighborhood have anything out either.  A few have tried to plow but regretted it when they realized the ground was too muddy.

There is some good news. The plants which were in the winter garden are still producing more than we can eat.

The spinach began bolting last week so we are working hard trying to get it quickly eaten.  Winter grown (Bloomsdale) spinach is one of my favorite greens because the flavor is much different when it grows in cold weather.

We still have a good variety of vegetables but they are quickly disappearing.  The following are still growing in the garden: collard greens, kale, onions, beets, mustard greens, cabbage, spinach, sorrel, lettuce, swiss chard, carrots, parsnips, chives, and garlic.

The elephant garlic has been growing in this same spot for a few years.  It will produce side shoots of little garlic bulbs and at least one is always left in the ground when it is pulled up.  This year it will not be any different since there is another small shoot sprouting.

The Superschmelz kohlrabi along with many other things are bolting and going to seed. I will be saving them as soon as they are ready and I am going to do a better job keeping track of the names. I am REALLY going to try to do better.

The strawberries are just beginning to form the berries.  It's time to put netting over them or everything will disappear. The hoop house wires are up but untangling the net will take a bit of time.

My biggest failure has been being unable to get anything to sprout. Early in March, I started my seedlings as normal but nothing sprouted so I assumed the laundry room was too cold. I tossed everything then tried again and this time I used a heating mat and a grow light.  Nothing sprouted again but this time hundreds of fungal gnats hatched and flew all over the room. Their larvae were in the potting soil, ate the seed roots and then hatched. The soil was leftover from last year and had been stored in the shed. I suppose that is what caused the problem because it has never happened before. Once again I have started all over but now I am out of some of my seeds. This is the end of April and everything should be the size of the one tomato plant in the lower corner. 

I am very frustrated.  It is possible to go to the garden center and purchase seedlings but that is not what I want. It is the great tasting heirlooms and the unusual varieties that I love to eat.  The plants at the garden center will not be the ones I love. I know I am only one month behind but to me, it seems forever.  NOTHING has sprouted yet!

"Mother," said Scooter.  "They are only green plants, not something delicious like a hambone or a hot dog.  What really matters is if you have someone who loves you and needs you to protect them during naptime."

Links mentioned above:

Last Year's April Garden (2017)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Miner's Lettuce

Today is Wildflower Wednesday where people around the world celebrate wildflowers.  I am sharing a favorite, Claytonia perfoliata, also called "miner's lettuce" because it was used by the miners during California's 1849 gold rush to prevent scurvy.  It is native to the Western Coastal and Mountainous regions of North America where it grows wild; however, I have never seen it in the forests here in Tennessee.  In the early spring seedlings appear, grow, bloom, drop seeds and then disappear in the heat of summer.  It is a welcomed weed in my herb garden because it's delicious in salads.

Scooter was hunting something that left tracks during the night.
My seeds were purchased years ago from an online catalog. I first planted them beside my strawberry plants in the wooden planter Reese built.  When the wood rotted and we transplanted the strawberries to the vegetable garden, the miner's lettuce was not growing.  Only later did I realize no seeds had been saved.  Also, the soil had been disturbed so there would not be any new seedlings the next year.  My misfortune was shortlived because the seeds traveled with the soil all over the yard.  Now I find them everywhere.  This one sprouted in the middle of a daylily plant.

These are smaller, younger seedlings.  The tender leaves have a milder flavor; however, I am letting mine mature so they will drop more seeds.

Miner's lettuce will tolerate full sun but prefers moist shade.  They are great under trees and in areas vacant in the early spring.  Mine are growing in a shady herb/flower bed.  They will be gone or eaten by the time the flowers are needing space to spread.  

Miner's Lettuce has been chosen to receive the honor of being showcased by me for the month of April's Wildflower Wednesday celebration.

All links mentioned above.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Today's Blooms, April 15, 2018

Spring is beginning to arrive.  A few plants are blooming but most are only budding.  The small white flowers of the Star of  Bethlehem,  Ornithogalum umbellatum, are thriving. They will fade, disappear and be forgotten until they are accidentally discovered later when I dig in the vacant spot.  The bulbs will travel with the transported soil to another bare spot where they will flourish.  What began as a very few little bulbs has slowly spread to many different areas.  They are considered invasive by many people, but I have enjoyed letting them increase. I may regret it one day, but now I like them.  

The Japanese Flowering Kwanzan Cherry tree was in full bloom but the recent storm blew most of the blossoms away!  As long as the wind leaves the shingles on my house alone, I will not complain too loudly.

Behind the two chairs is a spicebush which was gifted to me years ago.  The smell is awesome, a sweet peppery scent which will waft far across the yard.  When I first discovered it at a friends house, I asked for a small twig then placed it in water so it could root. What began as a tiny cutting has grown into a large bush.  It has almost finished flowering and I will miss the heavenly smell.

Morning Glory seeds and Moonflower seeds have been planted at the bottom of the arch.  If they don't germinate soon, I might need to replant.  My goal is to cover this arch with vines and blossoms.  Maybe this year I will finally achieve that goal.

The wild violets are just beginning to bloom.  They were planted as a groundcover in this area which is impossible to mow.  They are not shy about spreading and have finally become thick enough to choke out other weeds.

Only a few of the early columbines are blooming.  These are one of my favorite flowers and I wish they would hurry and spread to more places.  This is one plant I can't resist picking and bringing inside.

The hellebores just keep on blooming and blooming.  I love these flowers.

Ferns don't have flowers so I have decided to show the fiddleheads instead.  These were wild plants I transplanted from the backwoods to my front flower bed.

Last year I carefully worked hard amending the soil around my little lilac bush.  My hope was that it would flourish and grow larger.  It only put out a single little cluster of buds!  Seriously???? After so much special treatment, it gave me just one bloom!  It was beautiful but this year it gets nothing else special.

Now for this month's garden fail.  The early sprouting hostas were frozen by the last freeze.  The others in the garden are fine because they are just now poking above the ground.  Since this one is surrounded on two sides by rocks, I think the ground warmed up too soon.  No problem, it will probably recover...or not.  Meh.

As for other problems, it seems trouble has arrived outside my kitchen window.

Yesterday afternoon in the pouring rain, Ping Pong the Great returned with some of his enemies in tow.  His kingdom changed over the winter and now it includes a rusted old basket holding pieces of discarded stale bread.  

Ping Pong the Great
The marauding invaders prefer the bread crumbs and ignore the delicious red flowers with the unending supply of sweet nectar.  However, this does not appease Ping Pong the Great.  He does not trust them and still eyes them with disdain especially since they have decided to roost on his treasured throne.

I am beginning to believe Spring might really have arrived.

Links mentioned above