Wednesday April 23, 2014
When will the weather make a decision one way or the other? It sure has been playing with us, this year. Daffodils announce that winter is over, but I don't really know it's spring until I can smell the lilacs. You get just a whiff of fragrance, as the flowers begin to show some color. For the full blast of scent, you have to be patient and let them completely open. Cross your fingers they'll finish opening before the rains knock them down, but hedge your bet and grab a few to bring indoors and scent the whole house.
Lilacs have been off limits for warm climate gardeners, but that's beginning to change. New hybrids, like the Descanso series from California, bloom without a period of winter chill. Soon there will be no excuse not to indulge yourself in their heady scent. After all, they require minimal maintenance. You may need some extra patience, because lilacs can take several years before they flower. All the more reason to plant one right now.
Monday April 21, 2014
It looks like spring is going to pounce on us, with little warning. That means I'll be pushing my luck and moving plants outdoors, with no guarantee the temperature will remain above freezing. Frost happens, even when you least expect it. In the fall, it can be a relief to finally be able to put your garden to bed. In the spring, it can send you into a panic, because you just put your plants out and wish you hadn't.
When that happens, I run around outdoors and throw covers over the plants. I used to use sheets, which work pretty well. They do get heavy when wet and can crush young plants. I eventually bought some row covers. They don't look like much and I wouldn't trust a coat made from them to keep me warm outside, but they are a quick and easy way to extend your growing season by a couple of weeks. Much to my surprise, they really work.
Row Covers, sometimes referred to as Floating Row Covers, are lightweight spun bonded synthetic fabrics that are laid over plants for protection against pests and temperatures. They are light enough to rest on the plants and allow light, water and even fertilizer to get through. In general, they add about 2-4 degrees F. protection. Depending of the weight of the fabric, you could keep your plants growing even when nighttime temps dip down into the mid-20s.
Sunday April 20, 2014
There are finally some flashes of green, in my vegetable garden. The first leaves I harvested were from a perennial vegetable, sorrel. It actually started out a rosy-pink, but it has filled in nicely, despite the chilly nights it's been exposed to. But the spinach and arugula, and even the lettuce and peas have all broken ground. Apparently they are much hardier than I and I am delighted to see them. This is not the spring for patience. If you agree, here are the 6 fastest maturing vegetables to get started in your garden, for some much needed gratification.
Saturday April 19, 2014
It's that time of year again, All the dampness has given many areas of my yard a lovely cover of moss. I like to revamp this post every year because few things divide gardeners like moss. I get as many letters about how to get rid of it as how to grow it. I can fully appreciate not wanting moss on the roof or the side of the house, but you can't beat it as a low-maintenance lawn alternative or for adding character to rocks and stone walls.
I won't pretend to be an expert on the different types of moss. That's something I'm saving for my retirement. But I can share how I make the most of mine and I've included some comments from prior years, so you can see what others think. For those of you who just can't share my enthusiasm for moss, David Beaulieu has some ideas for getting rid of it.