Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

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Rewards of your Labor

November 1, 2010

Finally, I’m out of my sickbed. A cough is hanging on and my back is still healing, but I managed to make it outside to the perennial garden for a slow walk.

Somehow, the plants coped nicely without me the past five days. In fact, the lavender is sweet and plush as if spring were about to burst. The salvia is in full bloom and a couple of humming birds have lingered longer this fall to take in the nectar. More volunteer chrysanthemums are popping up. I wonder where they got the energy to produce some many seeds.

The vegetable garden doesn’t look as good. The “eager farmer’s” boots have become a bird perch and his jeans are damp from dew, and I think from rain. Not sure about the rain because I was buried under the covers. The Brussels sprouts are growing but not without chewed leaves. The lettuce and spinach have disappeared. It seems I wasn’t the only one under attack.  

Beneath my office window, these wild sunflowers are as sunny as fresh-squeezed orange juice. They keep blooming as if they’re made of silk and don’t need watering. They were in a wildflower seed packet from a fan (thank you), and I have to say their spunk perked me up.

This is part of what gardening is about, taking in the rewards of your labor when you’re too tired or sick to dig the earth, deadhead pansies, or sow lettuce seeds. Rarely do I enter the perennial garden without an agenda. Walking the grounds to observe, minus a trowel in my hand, was nice. Special.

Maybe it was time to slow down.

 

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February Garden Tasks

February 10, 2010

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Please note:  What I write in this space are lessons learned through trial and error, research, and from other gardeners and professionals. I garden in zone 9, but share garden experiences that I believe are relevant to most zones within a reasonable time frame and planting conditions.

February is a month of rhythmic movements. Fragrant roses and Saint Valentine’s Day cards stir the hearts of new and established relationships. Winter is fading and the earth itself senses change and celebration. Anticipated possibilities are just around the corner. To help you love your way back into the garden, below are a few tasks.

 In the vegetable garden:  plant artichokes, onion sets and green onions, peas, spinach, Swiss chard. Indoors, sow beets, broccoli, blueberries, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, eggplant, grapes, green onions, peppers, parsley, lettuce, spinach, strawberries, Swiss chard, tomatoes.

 Sow lettuce every two weeks for a continuous crop. Once transplanted and the weather heats up, protect lettuce from the sun and you should have salad greens throughout the season. Use scrap wood to build a frame consisting of two sides and a top, large enough to sit over lettuce crop. Attach sunscreen fabric (available at local nurseries) to the frame’s top and sides. Leave the ends open for air. (I’ve seen this done with satisfying results . . . fresh lettuce all summer!)

 In the landscape:  plant bare root roses and fruit trees, deciduous shrubs, and vines.

For spring annuals, add dianthus, Lobelia, pansy, snapdragon, poppy, and Virginian stock. Consider summer flowering bulbs such as amaryllis, calla, canna, dahlia, gladiolus, lily, and tuberose begonia. Perennials include candytuft, coral bells, poppy, and Shasta daisy. Indoors, start summer annualscoleus, cosmos, impatiens, marigold, petunia, snapdragon, sunflower, sweet William, and Viola.

For existing trees and plants: feed deciduous fruit and citrus trees, established rhubarb when new sprouts appear, perennials, except azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons. (Feed these when flower cycle is complete.), spring-flowering shrubs, and don’t forget potted plants. Prune apple, pear, plum, peach, and nectarine trees, roses, winter jasmine as soon as it has finished blooming, early spring-blooming flowering shrubs like butterfly bushes and crape myrtles.

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