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Time to plant the early birds!

peas

At long last, Spring is at the point where we can start planting things. As soon as the ground is workable, you can plant your pea seeds. They like to grow best in cool weather so will do much better if you plant them now than if you plant them in June. Ditto Nasturtiums. Lettuce also likes cool temperatures. Don’t forget that you can also plant a crop in late summer to enjoy throughout the fall!

 

nasturtium
Nasturtium blossoms are not only pretty to look at, they are tasty to eat, as well, with a light, peppery taste that goes well in salads.

 

Things like tomatoes and squash can be given a head start on a sunny windowsill, if you are so inclined. You will still have to wait until around Memorial Day to plant them (they like heat and lots of it, so planting them outside too soon isn’t productive) but you can certainly get them started. Just remember to bring them outside during the day and inside at night for 4-5 days before planting them outside for good. This is called “hardening off” and gets them used to the cooler temperatures so that they adapt better when in their final places.

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Pansy plants are also favorites for early planting. While typically they do best in the spring (and they love fall, too, although we don’t tend to think of them as fall flowers) they will often do pretty well in the summer heat if given a semi-shady spot. I had pansies that I planted in a barrel last April that survived and flowered until Christmas. Now that’s value!

Scratch that planting itch with a few of these beautiful and tasty plants, and get the season off to a good start!

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April 2018, What to do in the garden

Fertilizing Roses

rose doodle

I have always had good luck with roses. Perhaps it’s because I’m half English, so it is ingrained in my particular genetic mixture. More likely though, it’s because I really like them, and because of that, I have made a point to learn what makes them happy. One thing that I do, no matter how busy I am, is to give them regular fertilizer once a month from April to September. I try to do it on the first of the month, in order to keep it consistent, and to help me remember to do it. I use Rose-tone, by Espoma, which has a nutritional breakdown of 4-3-2. (Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium). I’m sure there are other good brands out there, but I like this one.

The application is simple: Just sprinkle it around the “drip line” of the plant, and either water it in, or let the rain do it. The “drip line” is the outermost circle of leaves of the plant. (See illustration.) By spreading the fertilizer that far out, as opposed to right at the base of the plant, you encourage healthy root growth and spread.

rose drip line

And that’s it! Really, the hardest part is just remembering to do it.

 

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Cherry Trees

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While George Washington’s famous “Father, I cannot tell a lie, I chopped down the cherry tree with my hatchet” may be a story invented by his biographer, it is not surprising that the cherry tree was chosen to feature in the myth, as it has had a place in history for thousands of years.

The first mention of the cherry tree is said to have been in 300 bc, when they were named after a town in Turkey. Since then, it has appeared in legends from all over the world.  It has also been goven as a token of friendship, often from Japan,  as were the famous cherry trees that now grow in Washington D.C. Parts of the tree have been used throughout history to treat jaundice, intestinal discomfort, used as a sedative, and in cough medicine. (Ludens cough drops ring a bell?) We eat cherry jams and jellies on toast, bake them in pies, and spear them with tiny swords and put them in cocktails which we serve on on tables made of cherry wood. The uses go on and on.

Graceful soldiers

In the garden, Cherry trees and their cousins, the Plums, are beautiful additions, providing blossoms in the spring, shade in the summer, and stately silhouettes in the winter. Cherry blossom festivals seem to pop up wherever more than a dozen grow. There are tall ones and short ones, shrub sized ones, weeping ones, tart ones and sweet ones, so there is one for every garden situation. No wonder they have stood the test of time!