Wednesday, April 16, 2014

State of the Garden - April 2014

It's time to look into the garden for the monthly update!

This month was the first one all year (until yesterday) when things were really nice around here. The snow was done by the beginning, it was raining regularly but staying in a good temperature with blessed, blessed sunlight giving me back all the Vitamin D I was missing over the winter, and I got the itch to garden. Well, technically, I got the itch in late Feb when I would have been gardening in FL, but I haven't been up here long enough to have an instinctive feel of when I should be putting things out in NC yet. I've got to mediate between what my instincts are telling me is the best time and when the world is allowing it.

But last week, there were plants in the Garden Center and I used some of my food money to get a Marigold and the first baby Tomato of the season--one that's supposed to make big fat cherry tomatoes in a container without getting too big.

I also got a strawberry--because I love strawberries (or, really, any berries), and because they were cheap, and because I have had NO LUCK, in over 15 years of gardening wherever I am, to grow them from seed. And the ones I had in FL died because it got too hot where we were. This one I picked up because it already had a bunch of berry-babies on it and lots of leaves and no gross-spots.

Early on in the month, basically as soon as the last snow melted and it got over 50, I went out and threw in some more baby greens leaves, and they're coming along nicely, as you can see. There's also, in the picture below, the one random potato I found sprouted in the pantry that I didn't have the heart to throw away because it was trying so hard to live. I don't know if I'll get any new potatoes off it, but it's happy for now.*

The local useful weeds are also going strong. This is a nice big dandelion growing just behind where I have all my garden containers, and I'm just going to leave it there if the dude with the weed-whacker doesn't take it down. Actually, there's dandelions EVERYWHERE right now, and I'm super-tempted to go and pick all the flowers and see if I can get enough to make dandelion wine, except that I don't have anything to put it in while it ferments, and really I don't know how to do it. I'll have to go look it up soon--or put it on the list for next year!

And then yesterday, the weather dropped 40 deg in the course of about four hours, and then poured all night while it dipped into freezing temperatures.

So the new babies and my lovely old jade plant are inside until tomorrow when it's supposed to warm up and not be stupidly freezing again.

We also got a pot of tulips for Easter. We picked them because they were totally yellow when they were buds, and we thought "yellow is very spring and sunny"...and then woke up the next morning to see that they'd turned pink! They tricked us! But I guess it's fair because we actually went to the Garden Center to pick up new roses (my old ones died--so much for subzero), and wound up not being able to afford them because I'm out of dirt and didn't have pots big enough and we didn't have the funds to get those AND the plants. And then we almost got these gorgeous shrubby blackberries, but mom wanted flowers, so we wound up on tulips because everyone in the house likes them. 

They'll be in the garden after Easter, too.

Also in the garden, but not pictured: 
  • Two of the ten trees the Arbor Day Foundation sent me when I signed up last year survived the winter, and they sent out new leaves. I think they're both crepe myrtles, and I'm hoping they'll bloom in the late summer when the rest all over town do. I'm sad the dogwoods and maples didn't make it, but I'm leaving them around for a few more weeks before interring them in the compost to see if they're just taking their time waking up.
  • The lilies my sister got me last year for my birthday are growing like super-fast-growing things. There was three stalks last year, and about nine this year, so on hindsight, I probably should have divided them before they rested all winter. It's on the list to do this fall, so I can have, like, ALL THE LILIES next year!
  • The spinach, peas and beets I planted didn't sprout at all; I think most of my seed collection is just too old, and I haven't had the funds or stability to worry about refreshing it / rebuying everything. But the onions I planted are just little skinny seedlings, if they survive the pummelling they got last night in the rain, and the carrots I planted are just starting to come up.
  • The Random Lettuce that somehow survived the snow all winter is putting up yummy-looking new leaves!
Next up:
  • Those roses and blackberries.
  • Herbs! I've had the best luck, weirdly enough, buying the ones from the produce section at Target, rather than from a garden center or from seed, so I'll be doing that again for the main ones. I want a lavender from the center, too, because that stuff is too expensive to buy for sachets, tea and lavender sugar cookies.** Maybe I'll try more exotic herbs from seed, since I have a bunch, and some of them are not as old as the rest.
  • Sunflowers! Lots of them! It was great having them last year, and I want more this year.
  • Two zukes so I can see if they'll give me something other than piles of flowers and no fruit. I don't think I'll do more than that--they're huge and I don't want to wind up being a zuke-avore because that's all I get from my garden in bulk!
  • More tomato-babies, and some pepper-babies. I've had much more luck growing peppers from seed, so I think I'll do some of those.
  • When I re-up for Arborday, I'll make sure I have dirt and pots set up more ahead of time so I can plant the tree-babies properly, and then more will survive.
  • Fruit trees! I've been collecting seeds from whatever I eat all winter, and I'm going to plant them and see what happens. Lemons and limes and oranges should be grow-able; apples and pears grow different plants than their parent-plant, so it'll be like a surprise to see what they give me. And I have an avocado to try out.
Out in the world, we've gone through Daffodyll Season, Crabapple Season, and now we're in Tulip and Azalea Season; I'm looking forward to the summer fruit season as we take our walks around the neighborhood!

*I once grew a sweet potato for a whole spring-summer-fall in a windowbox for much the same reason.
**I really like being able to eat flowers. I think I was a either a caterpillar or a fairy in a previous life.
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