I can’t believe that it’s been almost a year since I went to Thailand. One of the things that struck me while there was the inspired use of floral motifs in all design, whether architectural or fabric. I even saw fruits and vegetables intricately carved to look like flowers. The following pictures were all taken on the first official day of our tour, which began at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. Grand doesn’t begin to describe it.
With just a week left in the month, March has decided to come back. Temperatures in Toronto dipped just below freezing last night, and it’s expected to go even lower tonight. Are those of you in similar regions worried? I’m not. At least not about my own garden. I’m worried about fruit orchards with trees that have already set flowers and the magnolias that are just on the cusp of opening. And I feel terrible for farmers who have no means to protect acres and acres of early crops.
However, in my own garden I’m not worried about the seeds I have recently sown. Most of them are hardy greens that can take a dip below freezing and in the case of those that aren’t, well, a little loss is not the end of the world. I never sow an entire packet of seed in one go, and I never sow more than I can afford to lose. I am slightly worried about the perennials that have come out of dormancy too early. Tender new growth may suffer the one-two punch of freezing nights and driving, cold winds. Even my urban backyard, which is protected by tall buildings and heat-absorbing materials is suffering from a tunnel effect as the wind drives through the narrow passages between walls.
Fortunately, the soil is still warm and the days are sunny. This seems to be helping to keep the plants warmer at night. I didn’t do anything to protect my plants last night — I even left out the echeverias that had spent the winter indoors — everything was fine this morning. Read more…
Imagine my surprise when I pulled back the row cover at the back of my garden and found this pot full of living ‘Four Seasons’ lettuce that I had planted last fall and forgot about. It survived the winter!
I love these little mistakes that result in new discoveries. Yes, our winter was much milder than usual, but in the years that I’ve been growing the ‘Four Seasons’ variety, I had not expected it to live up to its name in my climate.
The container (an old bread box I inherited from Davin’s grandmother, with holes punched into the bottom) was twice sown last fall due to a squirrel invasion that I did not protect against. I have since transplanted several of these seedlings into raised beds and pots around the garden.
With the garden soil now workable, and unseasonably warm, I have also direct sown several lettuce varieties and greens around the garden. This has me thinking about all of the future salads we will be enjoying soon, making me realize that it was high time to pull together some of the lettuce and greens articles I have written here over the years to get you started on growing your future salads, too.
P.S. This week’s article on HGTV is up. It’s about reusing potting soil. I often use my old potting soil to grow salad greens. However, I am careful to add more nitrogen back into the depleted mix as leafy veggies need nitrogen to thrive.
P.S.S. I have added more ‘Hahms Gelbe Topftomate’ seeds to etsy.
How about this weather, eh?
I spent all of Monday getting the garden in order. Or, I should say, beginning to get the garden in order. Digging, cleaning, ripping out dead annuals, sowing seeds… my arms, shoulders, neck, legs, knees, everything are creaky, stiff, and sore. I did not stretch before I started. To be honest, I never stretch before I start, probably because I always fail to remember that gardening is hard work.
[Aside: Some of the pain was caused by lifting heavy luggage on and off of the train 4 times on Sunday. I brought home two cases of Ball quilted canning jars from a trip over the border. When is Berardin going to start offering the nicer designs here in Canada? Am I right, my fellow canning Canadians? Enough with the ugly crest and fruit designs! I am tired of stuffing my luggage full of glass whenever I travel to the US.]
I left home very early on Friday morning to catch a train to Rochester, NY where I was speaking at the Rochester Flower Show. Tee shirt weather persisted through the weekend and I was pleased when I stepped outside on Monday morning and found that the garden had exploded into life over three days of temperatures around or above 60F.
The Iris reticulata (above) were only just showing their leaves above the soil line at this time last year. Back then they were grown indoors in a pot — the fact that they are in full bloom outside is a testament to how far ahead of schedule we are this year.
This is my garden as of this morning. As you can see it is still a mess, but I’m getting there. Compare to what it was on this day last year. p.s. Look at my scruffy muppet dog at the back. She eats EVERYTHING.
And just like that, spring is springing! I am very pleased to announce that I have been hired as a featured gardening expert as a part of HGTV’s new online garden initiative, HGTV Gardens.
In the coming months I will be writing a weekly column answering pressing and seasonally relevant garden questions sent in by readers (YOU!). The first one is dedicated to a problem we all have at this time of year: starting seeds on a windowsill. I may have a “fancy” (not really) seed starting setup AND a basement now, but for 15 years prior I crammed most of my seedlings onto old, wobbly windowsills and made due. I know how to make a windowsill work! And because I can never have enough space for seeds, I’ve found that I am still cramming the windowsills despite the “fancy” (not really) lighting setup. A bunch of alpine strawberry seedlings are growing there as I write this.
With each weekly column I hope to offer encouraging, practical and thrifty solutions, along with a few nuggets from my own experiences dealing with said problems. Since my answers are only as good as the questions I receive, I’d appreciate it if you’d head over there and offer up some questions to the HGTV team that I can write about in the coming weeks and months.
Hooray for spring!