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Niki Jabour’s Veggie Garden Remix

Niki Jabour's Veggie Garden Remix

Niki Jabour’s Veggie Garden Remix

Every spring we gardeners stand in the sun as we breathe deep and fill our minds with plans for new projects, using new techniques and planting new plants.

This year my new project is a small straw bale bed for vegetables. However, I have been reading Niki Jabbour’s new book Veggie Garden Remix: 224 New Plants to Shake Up Your Garden and Add Variety, Flavor and Fun (Storey $19.95) and my ideas about what to plant are shifting. The new plants she talks about are not just new varieties of standard plants many of us usually grow. She is talking about increasing the biodiversity of our gardens with vegetables from around the world.

We talk about using native plants in our ornamental gardens, but in our vegetable gardens we usually don’t know which vegetables are native to North America. I know a few of the vegetables in our garden are native to South America including tomatoes, avocados, cashews, potatoes, sweet potatoes and squash.  How many more edible plants that were not native to North America are now common at our supermarkets? I suspect quite a few. Other new plants are appearing all the time as our world gets smaller and smaller, as people leave one continent to live on another and bring their taste for familiar foods with them.

Jabbour’s book opens with a story about a gourd she planted and planned to use as a Halloween decoration. When her Lebanese mother-in-law, Noha, saw it her eyes lit up. She recognized the funny looking gourd as cucuzza, a squash tasting much like summer squash. Eating that cucuzza the whole family realized there were many vegetables from around the world that could be grown in their garden and give their meals a bit of a remix.

Like snap beans she asks? Jabbour then offers up a number of less familiar edible beans like hyacinth beans, edamame, chick peas and yard long beans with full cultural information for growing. She also throws in what her family calls daylily beans, the closed buds of the daylily which can be simply fried or dipped in batter for a tempura “bean.”

She uses that process as she opens our eyes to celtuce, a non-heading lettuce that produces tender leaves in the spring and a crunchy stem in late summer. Jabbour offers a whole array of greens to spinach lovers. She begins with the fast growing and pretty magenta spreen, and goes on to peppers, sweet potato leaves, tatsoi from China and more.

Beauty Heart Radish AKA Watermelon Radish

Beauty Heart Radish AKA Watermelon Radish

There are bigger families of broccoli, cabbage, carrots, beets, turnips and radishes than you ever imagined. I first saw and ate Beauty Heart, a beautiful winter radish with a green exterior, then a white layer and a broad pink layer, in China. I kept insisting my translators were mistranslating when they called it a radish. I thought the fist sized radish must be a turnip. I was wrong. When I got back to the U.S. I started seeing this radish at farmer’s markets, where it was called watermelon radish. The Chinese usually pickle it and it is delicious. It only takes about 15 or 20 minutes to complete the pickling process, and is almost immediately ready to eat.

Jabbour gives us the opportunity to try out vegetables from other lands. The Asparagus pea, a plant native to Africa, was a tintillating idea. However, she said she “is not a fan of eating Asparagus peas. “The four sided winged pods do have a hint of asparagus as well as its own sharp flavor,” but what Jabbour likes is their low sprawling habit which can cover about one to two feet of horizontal space, and the brick red flowers that bloom before the pods appear. She says they can grow in Zone 5, but it is a good idea to start the seeds indoors and wait until it is dependably warm to plant outside.

Amaranth is a plant I have admired as a flower, and knew it was edible, but I could never imagine quite how. First Jabbour describes the different species that she recommends for greens, using the foliage, as the edible element. They can be cooked like spinach. The foliage is often colorful; Thomas Jefferson brought home seeds of the tricolor amaranth from Paris for his garden.

Amaranth is also a protein rich grain plant. It needs at least 100 frost free days to produce usable seed. The amaranth many of us think of as love-lies-bleeding (A. caudatus) can be used for a seed harvest. Harvest time arrives after the first frost and Jabbour gives information about harvesting, threshing, winnowing and cooking.

The book concludes with information about Vietnamese coriander (Persicaria odorata), which she describes as having a peppery-cilantro flavor, a good herb for the delicious Vietnamese noodle soup ‘Pho.’ It needs at least 6 hours of sun and prefers a moist soil. Clearly this is an herb I can grow successfully in my wet and damp garden. It is possible to order Vietnamese coriander plants from Richter’s Herbs. This is a great advantage if you like cilantro which goes to seed so quickly over the summer, Vietnamese coriander produces flavorful foliage all season.

There is a good index, and a list of seed companies that can give you entrée into a whole new world of vegetables.###

Between the Rows   April 14, 2018

Dear Friend and Gardener – July 17, 2014

New bean rows

New bean rows

Dear Friend and Gardener: Where do I begin? With these new bean rows that I put in early this morning? Contender bush beans that promise to be ready for harvest in 50 days, on August 31?  We’ll see.  But, they should be bearing well before frost. The rest of this bed separated by a pile of mulch, and two hills of Lakota squash which are coming along very slowly. We have had fairly good rainfall, but we have not yet had many hot days.

Milkweed and peas

Milkweed and peas

Or I  could begin today’s story with this milkweed row – er – I mean sugar snap pea row – er – I don’t know what row. Here is the question. Do I  give up the pea harvest in the hopes of welcoming hungry monarchs?  We used to have clouds of monarchs in August feeding on a mint field. They do like mint a lot. But of course, they need the milk weed for their caterpillar babies.  We rarely see monarchs any more, but there seem to be lots of other butterflies that like milkweed so it stays. I may get a few peas. What would you do?

Summer squash

Summer squash

This squash hill is doing better than Lakota. I can’t actually remember if this is the zucchini or crookneck yellow squash. The other hill is not doing well either. I really do think we need more heat.  This squash is planted at the end of a bed of cippolini onions. They are doing fine.

Garlic and lettuce

Garlic and lettuce

The garlic has done well and should be ready for harvest soon. I did cut off all the scapes, cut them into tiny pieces, put them on a cookie sheet and froze them for an hour before putting them into freezer bags. I can use these in cooking in lieu of a chopped up garlic clove. Using the scapes this way doubles the garlic harvest.  On the other side of the row is lettuce and self seeded cilantro. I pulled out the last of a patch of spinach this morning.

tomato plant

tomato plant

On May 20 I planted four substantial tomato plants that I bought at Andrews Greenhouse in Amherst. I think this one is Mortgage Lifter, an heirloom. All of them are looking good.

Grafted Jung tomato

Grafted Jung tomato

This is a grafted tomato sent to me by Jung seeds. It looked nearly dead when it arrived. It has perked up substantially, but it doesn’t look very enthusiastic. It is growing in the same bed as two of the other tomatoes so there is no difference in the soil and the garden is in  the sun from 10:30 am on.

Grafted pepper from Jung

Grafted pepper from Jung

Jung also sent a grafted pepper to test. It looks much happier than the tomato and they are growing side by side.

Red raspberries

Red raspberries

Of course, there is more to the edible garden than veggies.  Red raspberries are just starting to ripen. I got these from Nourse Farms, an excellent local nursery.

Blueberry bushes

Blueberry bushes

The blueberries will be ready to start harvesting by the first of August.  Blueberries and raspberries are the easiest and most delicious crops to grow.

We have been eating our own lettuce for the past month, and spinach, too. It turned out I really didn’t know how to handle rapini, so most of that early crop went into the compost bin. I do get to use our own fresh herbs – chives, sage, basil, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, tarragon, oregano and thyme, all of which can be harvested now and into the fall. If you are a cook, you really can save a lot of money by planting an herb garden for using fresh, or drying yourself. Many herbs are perennial, but even if you buy a six pack of basil you’ll have enough for the summer and to freeze for little more than the price of one bunch at the store. One gardener told me she chooses which crops to plant depending on how expensive it is to buy. Berries are expensive, so are bunches of herbs, or garlic. Something to keep in mind.

Except for the herbs and lettuce, I haven’t been harvesting much so far, but broccoli, cauliflower, pole beans and those squash plants are slowly coming along.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts

Do you think I allowed enough space between my Brussels sprouts? They are growing in a specially fertilized bed – lots of compost – after last year’s failure.

How is your vegetable garden coming?

I want to thank Dee Nash for hosting Dear Friend and Gardener, a wonderful virtual garden club where we can share our tips, triumphs, and those less than triumphant moments.

Forbes Library Garden Tour June 14 in Northampton

Forbes Library Garden Tour

Forbes Library Garden Tour

Time for the Forbes Library Garden Tour June 14 10 am – 3 pm.

The time comes for many of us gardeners when we think we cannot carry on with our gardens, or houses, as they are. We are older, the children have gone, and we are not quite so energetic or willing to toil for hours in the summer sun over our weeds and slugs. The time comes to think about a smaller house and a smaller garden.

Something more than five years ago, Maureen McKenna had huge gardens in Leeds, children that needed to be chauffeured here and everywhere and a big house. She was getting weary. She and her husband sat down and realized they had to do something to make a change.

The change is the departure of older children, a smaller house, with a smaller garden on a much smaller lot in Northampton. It is one of the seven gardens on the tour to benefit the Forbes Library on Saturday, June 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Most of the gardens are small urban gardens so this is a perfect opportunity for those of us who are not in our first youth to experience the varied delights of a small garden. In addition there is one expansive garden in a country hideaway on this tour.

I asked Mckenna if it was hard to leave a house and garden where her children had grown up. Her response? “Not really.”

“The gardens in my old house had been left by the former owner and were huge,” she said. “I had to do a lot of hard work to make it my own – and even then . . ..” So, with only one child claiming a broken heart, they moved to where they could do more walking and less driving.

In her new smaller garden she has managed to have a little bit of everything, a sunny garden, a large shade garden, vegetables and berries.  It is all very pretty and very manageable. Her house divides the property from the street to the back property line and separates the sun and shade.

Shade Garden

Shade Garden

The front door is on the shady side. McKenna says guests never go to the front door even though she wishes they would. I think the shady woodland garden seems quietly formal so I can understand the appeal of the sunny backdoor for neighbors and casual company. She said they splurged on this garden. When they were arranging with the landscaper for compost and mulch, he said they could do a plan, as well. The plan involved giving some dimensionality to the long flat space by creating a gentle slope to the front section of the garden and curves in the back section.

The shade is created by an enormous maple tree, a smaller Japanese maple, and a large conifer in the back corner. Underplantings include tiarella and ajuga, both in flower in early spring, as well as iris cristata, sedums, a variety of hostas, large and small, and golden hakone grass. The pale leaves of a variegated five leaf aralia light up a dim corner near the rear wall.

Between the back door and the street is a raised sunny garden where a small tree is underplanted with astilbe, hellebores, iris, marguerite daisies, tiarella, bleeding heart, lady’s mantle, creeping phlox, a hydrangea and some sage and thyme. This is a garden that says welcome to all.

On the other side of the back door is a small sheltered patio between the wall of the house and the side wall of the garage which is softened by a narrow garden of roses and other perennials and a burbling fountain.

Forbes Library Garden Tour - Raised vegetable beds

Forbes Library Garden Tour – Raised vegetable beds

The other side of the driveway includes raised vegetable beds and gravel paths. “We had the soil tested at UMass and there was a measure of lead so we thought raised beds would be a wise decision.” The McKennas also have a community garden plot where they have grow more vegetables, and raspberry and blueberry bushes, but these raised beds allow them to pick a fresh salad, or strawberries or raspberries for breakfast. I was surprised to see some raspberry canes growing so happily in a large container.

Forbes Library Garden Tour - strawberry bed

Forbes Library Garden Tour – strawberry bed

A final shady section of the garden next to the garage is being redesigned and replanted to eliminate even this tiny bit of lawn.

In this one garden are many examples of the way a small space can be arranged to accommodate our desire for beauty and sociability as well as fresh veggies, fruit and less maintenance.

For me visiting other gardens gives me a chance to imagine myself in very different spaces. Garden tour season is beginning, giving all of us the chance to see new and interesting ways of using space, new techniques, new plants and the way passions and unique personalities are expressed in our gardens. I expect to get a lot of new ideas over the next month.

Tickets for the this tour are $15 in advance sold at Forbes Library, Bay State Perennials, Cooper’s Corner, Hadley Garden Center and State Street Fruit Store.  And $20 on the day of the tour, sold only at Forbes Library and garden #1. There is also a raffle and a chance to win organic compost, gift certificates, garden supplies or a landscape consultation. Raffle tickets are 2/$5 or 5/$10 and are available at Forbes Library through the day before the tour as well as garden #2 the day of the tour. For more information contact Jody Rosenbloom at jody.kabloom@gmail.com or 413-586-0021.

Between the Rows   June 7, 2014

Cabbage, Cauliflower, Other Crucifers and Cutworms

Damage caused by cutworms

Damage caused by cutworms

Cabbage, caulifower and other crucifers seem to attract cutworms. There are thousands of varieties of cutworms that can overwinter in the garden for two years before metamorphizing into a moth. They are tiny, hard to see and often live just below the surface of the soil where they are invisible until you walk out in the morning to see that your cabbage seedlings are either wilting (because they are not yet thoroughly cut through) or lying  in a wilted pile with their cut stems clearly exposed.

There are a number of ways to prevent cutworm damage. The first way I ever heard of was to put a collar as a barrier around each seedling of cardboard, tinfoil or other material  that went into as well as above the soil. Wood ashes spread around each plant is another kind of barrier, as are cornmeal, coffee grounds, crushed egg shells, or diatomaceous earth. All of these, one way or another will kill the cutworms. I was fascinated to learn that cutworms love cornmeal, but can’t digest it, and kill themselves by gorging.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac  and Mother Earth News have more complete information about cutworms and the variety of ways they can be controlled including by importing tachinid flies or trichogramma wasps. Don’t forget to treasure such natural predators as toads, moles and birds.

20-30 Something Garden Guide by Dee Nash

20-30 Something Garden Guide

20-30 Something Garden Guide by Dee Nash

When did you start gardening?

I was 25 and we had moved into our first house on Maple Street in Canton, Connecticut. It was a big old Victorian with a large front yard shaded by the maples that marched up and down both sides of the street. It had almost no backyard, just an 8 foot wide cement patio between the house and a steep weedy bank.

My first plantings were marigolds planted on either side of the back door. Bit by bit I turned the bank into what I called a rock garden. No real rock garden aficionado would have recognized it as such. The function of my rocks was to help hold the soil and some very common plants in place. The only plant I specifically remember was basket of gold, Aurenia saxatilis, (perhaps because it was the most successful) but I certainly knew nothing about Latin names or plant taxonomy at the time. I was lucky; basket of gold is perfectly suited for sites that bake in the sun and have well drained soil

Seven years later my first, very small, vegetable garden was between the side of my house on Grinnell Street and the driveway. Lettuce, peas and beans were my first crops. Thanks to the gift of a load of compost from a new friend, the garden did very well.

I mention my own experience because Dee Nash’s new book, the 20-30 Something Garden Guide (St. Lynn’s Press $17.95) takes me back to those blissful and excited days when I knew nothing, but plunged ahead anyway. Nash understands that a young adult’s first forays into gardening are often constrained by full time jobs and caring for young children. She successfully introduces novice gardeners into the basics of gardening with encouragement and some of the latest garden knowledge and techniques.

The 20-30 Something Garden Guide is divided into three main sections that first take the gardener into a container garden, and all the basic information about potting soil, garden soil, fertilizers, watering, and bugs. Let it be known that Nash’s own garden is organic. In addition to providing herself with healthy food and beautiful flowers, she is determined to do her part in supporting the natural world with its pollinators and other bugs, good and bad.

She also takes the gardener into the second and third years of gardening, as knowledge and experience grow. Learning to be a gardener is no different from learning math – you learn to count, then add, then multiply. Knowledge and interest build on each other and pretty soon you are learning the difference between open pollinated plants or hybrids or GMOs. We may start out thinking utilitarian thoughts about fresh food, but soon, we are appreciating the beauty of our vegetable plants and thinking about making the vegetable garden prettier. With Nash as our guide our perspective of the values of the garden are always shifting and enlarging.

Of course, even when you are concentrating on vegetables, herbs, and those flowers that attract vital pollinators to your garden, it is inevitable that you will want to add ornamentals and look for ways to design a garden with paths, flowers, and a place to rest. “Here’s where we look at creative ways to enhance your garden so it becomes the place where everyone wants to spend time  . . . having fun with garden art . . . And we mustn’t forget about making places for just sitting and doing nothing at all.”

For those energetic moments she includes good instructions for DIY projects like building raised bed frames or laying a stone path. Her recipe for manure tea requires little energy, but if you have access to manure this is a great way to fertilize the garden.

Gardening in Heath as I do with no smartphone service I am amazed by a Nash tip. How many seeds or plants to buy? “With the help of Siri on my iphone, I keep notes throughout the garden season. This info syncs with my laptop and makes my job easier in January when I am tempted to order too much, too soon.” The young adults of today have so many new ways of keeping records and reminders and getting information!

On the other hand she encourages those without experience, land, or smartphones to start small and begin. I was pleased she devotes a chapter to the joys and benefits of a community gardening.

Nash is an engaging writer, with a conversational style. She is an excellent coach, like the one she urges every new gardener, of any age, to find in the first pages of her book. We all look for information and advice in different places. I began with a subscription to Organic Gardening magazine. It was my bible. Nash’s book will serve well as a bible for today’s new gardener. The book includes a good index, and list of online resources from seed companies that have signed the Safe Seed Pledge, to plant and equipment suppliers and conservation organizations.

If you want more advice from Dee Nash you can visit her at her informative and inspiring blog www.reddirtramblings.com and http://20-30somethinggardenguide.com where you’ll also be able to link to the Dear Friend and Gardener virtual garden club where a whole variety of gardener/bloggers (including me) will be writing about their vegetable garden adventures this year.

Spring at Last in the Vegetable Garden

Ready for planting

Ready for planting in  the vegetable garden

Dear Friend and Gardener: Even  though I have planted seeds in the vegetable  garden, and a few seedlings that I started in the guestroom a few weeks ago, I can never resist  buying a few starts at the garden center.  I can never have enough parsley in the summer, and I don’t need very much chard, and I just want a headstart on the tender basil – so purchased starts are needed. Tomorrow should be perfect planting weather with clouds and showers predicted.  I also bought ‘Evolution’ an annual blue salvia, my traditional edging around the Shed Bed which holds the roses Belle Amour, Mary Rose, Leda, and Mrs. Doreen Pike. The rose are very slowly coming out of hibernation so it is too early to tell how much winter kill there has been.

Early garden for vegetables in  front of the house.

Early garden for vegetables in front of the house.

I did plant seeds (and forgot to note the date – Earth Day?) which  are starting to come up in the bed closest to the house – Early Rapini, Purple Top White Globe turnips, Patty’s Choice lettuce and Ruby and Emerald Duet lettuce – all from Renee’s Garden. I can see tiny plants coming up in rows so the variable weather did not deter these cool season crops.  I also planted a few cippolini onions from Dixondale Farms. The main vegetable garden  and onion beds are down in the Potager. A neighbor  is running a kind of one man coop and he puts together  a bulk order of various kinds of onions and leeks.   On Saturday I planted more seeds – DiCicco broccoli, Bloomsdale Spinach and more lettuces, again from Renee, in the more southern bed.  Those planting take me beyond the crest of the bank where a collection of daylilies is planted. I’ll plant Renee’s Garden Vanilla Berry nasturtiums as the transition between vegetables and daylilies. Nasturtiums act as a really good groundcover, keeping down the weeds, and lots of biomass in the fall to put in the compost pile. In addition, I can eat  the flowers, leaves and seeds.

Pansy studded salad

Pansy studded salad

Then in the summer my salads might resemble this one. Today was the day we priced the  1000 perennials that will be sold on Saturday at the Bridge of Flowers Annual Plant Sale. Lynda Leitner who has been giving the plants tender loving care and watering over the past month put our little subcommittee in a good mood with a beautiful lunch that included this charming salad.

This is my first post as a new member of Dear Friend  and Gardener,  the virtual edible garden club started by Dee Nash, Carol Michel and Mary Ann Newcomer. I have had a vegetable garden for many years, but I am planning to learn a lot from the other members!

Earth Day – April 22, 2014

 

Sarah Hollister's potatoes

Sarah Hollister’s potatoes

How can we celebrate Earth Day every day? We can grow a garden. Forget the lawn; grow veggies and herbs and berries, trees and flowers. Gardens, ornamental and edible can feed lots of pollinators and other bugs that need different kinds of foliage to nibble on, so that they can be eaten by birds and other wild creatures. Plants are pretty low on the food chain so that makes them especially important.

Edible plants feed us healthy veggies that didn’t put migrant workers at risk, and don’t cost gallons of gas to make their way to us.

You don’t even need a yard to grow plants. Container gardening is all the rage. Lots of vegetable varieties are now made especially for containers. Renee’s Garden is just one company that offers a long list of veggies and herbs that will thrive in containers.

Sarah Hollister's cucumber trellis

Sarah Hollister’s cucumber trellis

Greenfield has its new Sustainable Master Plan and one of its goals is to encourage more home gardening. If you haven’t gardened before start small. What do you like to eat? Fresh mixed green salads, with vine ripened tomatoes? Plant a little salad garden.

Are you always buying bunches of parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme? Plant a small herb bed and save lots of money over the summer and fall.  Add a few shallots and save even more money.

The library has a wide assortment of books for the novice garden for some armchair how-to instruction. Rodale has a great list of practical gardening books from Lasagna Gardening: A new layering system for bountiful gardens, no digging, no tilling, no weeding by Patricia Lanza; Michelle Owen’s Grow the Good Life: Why a vegetable garden will make you healthy, wealthy and wise; and Rodale’ Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening which will be useful as long as you live.

Get out and play in the dirt. The whole family can have a good time.

Sarah Hollister's blueberries

Sarah Hollister’s blueberries

These photos and many more were taken at the Hollister place last summer. My garden is not so neat, but it is still a lot of fun. I am  going to have to make sure to get some photos of container gardens before next Earth Day.

September 1 Record Fruiting and Tangles

Thomas Affleck rose

This post is part of my twice a month record of bloom and doings in the garden, on the 1st of the month, and then on Bloom Day, the 15th. As we begin September it is clear that in spite of the hot and dry weather Thomas Affleck continues to thrive. One a very few other rose blossoms are to be seen.

Hips on Dart’s Dash rugosa

What the roses are doing instead of blooming is producing hips. The Rugosas have the biggest fattest hips, that are now red and ripe. A neighbor came over to harvest what she needed to make rose hip jelly.

Rosa glauca rose hips

I bought rosa glauca about 30 years ago because of the description of the rose hips. They are red at the moment but will ripen to nearly black. Very sophisticated.

Liberty apple

This is a good year for apples. Liberty apple, planted about 25 years ago is a disease resistant apple. I never noticed before that this apple requires two other types of apple for cross-pollination. There are other apples in our field, and a neighbor less than two miles away has a whole orchard. There are enough other apples to keep this one pollinated and fruitful.  Needless to say, we use no insecticides or herbicides that would hurt honey bees or any other pollinators.

Highbush cranberry

The blueberries and raspberries are  finished. This highbush cranberry (viburnam) is the only berry bush we have at this season. The birds will make quick work of the pretty red berries.

Wild hops and grapes

We are not the ones who planted these hops or grapes. We make noble annual efforts but we have not been able to keep them in control.  These tough vines crawl over  a section of roadside saplings and into  the cultivated area and onto the viburnam.  The hop vine produces these papery little lantern-like flowers. Brewers need hops. The only use I might have for hop flowers is to harvest and dry them and stuff a little pillow with them to encourage sleep. Hops are considered soporific.  We eat a few of the Concord grapes, but the birds get most of those too. You have to look close to see them in this tangle of green.

Zinnias, squash and Grandpa Ott

As a last minute planting I used a few leftover seeds to plant acorn squash and zinnias where I had put a more informal than usual compost pile. This little tangle was more complicated than expected because of some Grandpa Ott purple morning  glories that came from I know not where.

 

Acorn squash

There are a few squash in that tangle. The tomatoes are beginning to ripen and we are eating a second or third planting of lettuce and salad turnips.  The broccoli harvest is over, and the green bean harvest has yet to begin because it got off to such a slow start – partly the weather and partly the rabbits. Happily no more trouble  with rabbits after that bean shoot feast.

 

Tomatoes

The tomatoes are beginning to ripen. Nothing like a luscious tomato fresh from the garden.

 

Acidanthra plus

I almost forgot that I planted acidanthra (summer gladiola) bulbs because it doesn’t begin to bloom until so late in the season.  It is a beautiful, graceful and fragrant plant. It gets lots of attention from visitors to the Bridge of Flowers. Here it is squeezed in between pink phlox, northern sea oats, delicate artemesia lactiflora on the right with Echinacea on the other side of this border peeking through. Pink cosmos are  also in bloom behind the artemesia.

Yarrow, lobelia, cotinus

At this time of the year there are tangles everywhere. I like this silvery leaved yarrow with its sulphur yellow blossoms and the blue lobelia with the wine red cotinus. There are a couple of white snapdragons in the mix as well.

Aconite and hydrangea

I love blue and white and I got it in this tangle of hydrangea and aconite stretching to reach the sun.

We got  a happy bit of rain last night, although only about a half inch, added to the half inch the day before that. Wishing for more.

Digging, Weeding and Planting Season in High Gear

Perennial divisions

This is the season of digging, weeding and planting. The priority this weekend was to get plants dug for the two big plant sales coming up. The Greenfield Garden Club, of which I am a member, will have its plant sale on Saturday, May 11 at Trap Plain, at Siver and Federal Streets, and the following weekend, May 18, the Bridge of Flowers will have its plant sale at the Trinity Church’s Baptist Lot in Shelburne Falls. This is a chance to get some great plants for your own garden at very reasonable prices while supporting the educational projects of the Greenfield Garden Club, and the maintenance of the Bridge of Flowers. This year I have dug Sheffield daisiies, crimson bee balm, campanuala ‘Joan Elliot’, Terra Cotta Yarrow, purple leaved coral bells and ‘Switzerland’ shasta daisies. I might find a couple of more clumps that need dividing.

Meadowseet

On Friday I was out and about on a variety of errands. I stopped at the Hadley Garden Center to get extra pots for the Bridge Plant Sale, and couldn’t resist buying this large sage plant known as meadowsweet. The Herb Bed in front of the house always needs refreshing and I thought this would really brighten things up early in the season. I also planted a tiny new French tarragon and summer savory. My parsley and basil plants aren’t ready to go in yet, and I have dill seed at the ready. Perennial herbs are starting to green up, chives, rue, chamomile, mint, lemon balm, bee balm, oregano, golden marjoram, thyme and sage as well as the lilies, stocks, irises, and Sheffield daisies.  Even an Herb Bed deserves a little glamor.

The vegetable beds are all dug and three of the beds are filled with onions, planted this weekend.The garlic is well up and looking good. Two beds are planted with lettuce plants, but it is still too cool for more tender seeds. At this time of the year a Monday Report is mostly a planting list. I put in three more tiarella plants down by the peonies where I am eradicating lawn, two native columbine plants, an Eryingium ‘Sapphire’, and a beautiful yellow epimedium. My own epimediums are just coming into bloom.

It’s not even June but the buds are bustin’ out all over, the sun is shinging and there is more planting to do this Monday morning.

PerPerfect Enough – Cold Frame and Everything Else

Perfect Enough Cold Frame

This perfect enough Cold Frame was assembled in 2010 as a temporary project. I think I will be using it again this year.

Cold Frame with Pyramidal Cover

We could have covered the temporary cinder block cold frame with an old window, but when the pyramidal skylight was delivered for  our Cottage Ornee some years ago the delivery truck driver delivered it to my neighbor’s house down the hill and took the big box out of the truck. My neighbor called me down to get it, but I couldn’t carry it in my car, so with a great sigh the driver put it back in his very full truck and with a strong heave closed the truck door. Oh – oh.  He bent the metal frame that would make a weatherproof seal when it was installed at the peak of the Cottage.  Well, the company had to send us another skylight, but they didn’t want the bent one back. It has been waiting for just such a moment to make itself useful.

The skylight rests on the cinderblocks. When I need cooler air and circulation I prop it open  with a stone, or I can remove it altogether. Temporarily.

Floating Row Cover 4-10-12

When the seedlings were big enough I transplanted them into the Front Garden and covered them with a floating row cover. It was to protect them from ravenous rabbits even more than cold weather. It was a perfect enough solution pinned down with rocks, bricks  and a board or two. Perfect Enough.  That is the cry at The End of the Road when we complete our projects. Perfect Enough! I wrote about this last year here.