Saturday, June 4, 2011

Spring Growth and More Chores Than Before

 When I returned home from my trip, it seemed that my garden had grown just as much as I had! The weather turned from unseaonable chill to summer-like heat in a short time, thrusting things upward and onward.

I replaced the winter bird feeder right away with one of the beacons of summer, a bright red hummingbird feeder. The titmice, chickadees and cardinals that were regulars during winter had not come to feed in a month. They were done with fattening up and likely to have found mates, made nests, raised young, and found new seasonal food sources. Meanwhile, hummingbirds would be looking for some post-migration refreshment.
Cleaning up after the winter birds included pulling some weeds that sprouted from the seeds in the feeder. I let the sunflowers grow as tall as they might, but pulled up the rest that grew thick under the feeder. Aside from those weeds, there were a few clover and  crab grass volunteers. Rampant garlic, mint, and and spurge shoots also needed some tending to.
 I thinned out my crops of early greens as well, just in time for a lush salad or two. After being on the road, it's always nice to home home to fresh eats like this. I'll get a week or two more out of these, using them as micro-greens, and then it will be time to uproot the majority of them so that the radish roots and the romaine florets can mature.

My warm season seedlings responded favourably to the change in temperature. Because I don't have the space to start them inside, I started them outside as soon as the threat of frost was over. They were sporting seed leaves, but not for long. With luck, I'll have pickling cucumbers, rainbow tomatoes, edamame and black bush beans to transplant beside my already thriving veggie plants from the local farm. Among the seeds I planted, I found some maple seeds that the wind planted in my seedling tray too!

About a week before I left, I also planted some lawn seeds, as I do every year. My mini-lawn already needed mowing when I got back. This is the size of lawn I can handle! I snipped it back with some hand shears in just two minutes. I leave the clippings on the lawn, just as I would with a mulch mower, so that as they disintegrate they leave their nutrients in the soil. I find this miniature green pasture just as beautiful as my other container plants, although it requires a little more maintenance than they do.

Of course, all of my plants were in need of some water. Some needed it more than others. My sage was suffering some drought, evident by the powdery mildew attacking its leaves.The most efficient way of controlling this fungus is to remove all the effected leaves from the plant. It's a good thing the young plant had enough leaves to spare after the attack. I moved it out of its vulnerable placement in a shallow pot and full sun.

As I watered all my plants I gave them a meal of liquid fertilizer as well. I use organic seaweed fertilizer, which feeds the soil first. This way the nutrients will be available to the roots all season. It's the kind of fertilizer that plants take up at their own pace, so I can enrich the soil regularly without any worry about burning plants like with chemical fertilizers. Rich soil is especially important to plants this time of year as they spread their roots, lengthen their stems, grow their leaves and transform their flowers.

The most conspicuous plant growth that takes place in my garden is by far the reaching of the clematis tendrils. Every day I find it claiming another victim. I politely remove the tendril from the shrub or tall grass it has grabbed onto and redirect it along the top of the fence. Nonetheless, it seems to have a mind of its own. I found it grasping and scaling numerous other plants and objects in my yard when I returned, and found it necessary to train the vine with bits of wool, tying it fast to the fence. (After training it I gave it a nice meal.)

When I ventured over to my vegetable plots, I had expected to see more growth from my rhubarb. Looks like the slugs paid a few visits, inhibiting the health of the leaves. They did the same thing to a few of my pepper plants and my only dahlia. I just may have to inhibit the health of those slugs with some bait or sharp eggshells or worse.

My new cranberry plant seemed to be healthy and unscathed by my absence. In fact, I counted one, two, three future cranberries. I plopped it, nursery pot and all, into a small tub of water before I left and that seemed to pay off. For the longer term, I plan to find a special pot for it with no holes in the bottom. As long as this New England native has access to boggy soil and a good amount of sun, it will continue to be happy.

Finding new pots was one of the more favourable garden chores of the week, but my most favourite chore didn't crop up until I came across a few bare spots in the garden soil. I would just have to scour the nursery for a few new plants! Now that my garden was filling out, I could clearly see the places that needed a little more greenery. One of these was the pot that I grew my raspberries in last year, at left. (I chose to transplant the raspberry into one of my vegetable plots earlier in the season.)

When all those chores were done, there was just one more thing left to do: light a torch and enjoy the evening!


  1. I love your container lawn - with its own cow! Chores do seem to come all at once when the weather gets cold. Glad you got to enjoy the evening with a beautiful torch.

  2. I think the idea of traveling while everything is growing gives me the most anxiety. I usually get my mother-in-law to take care of the basics, giving her a detailed list of which, where, and how to water. Loved the end of your busy day!

  3. Thx for the reminder about putting out my hummingbird feeder! Small world - I am a gardener in Needham MA - not too far at all from Natick (actually used to live in Natick years ago....)
    I like the very creative design of your blog.

  4. Hey, I just love your mini pasture in a pan. I'm starting to resent every square meter of lawn in my garden (because I can't plant vegetables and flowers there), and this would be the solution. And yours even has a cow! I agree with the other commenter that it's really hard to travel at this time of year.

  5. Like the comments above, I'm crazy about your lawn!

  6. Yes, it's a risky time of year to up and leave the plants! If I had been gone for any longer, I'd have had to write a pretty detailed of garden musts for my husband.

    The mini pasture is my response to the inefficiency of raising cows and lawns, but also to that innate longing for pastoral landscapes. Smells great after shearing!

    @ Anne- small world indeed! I love meeting other local gardeners- especially ones that blog. I'll be visiting your site momentarily. . .

  7. I appreciate the tip about combatting powder mildew. It tends to be a problem with our heat and humidity in NC. I didn't realize that drought stress could make plants more susceptible to it, but that makes sense now that I think about it.

  8. Freshly picked edamame sounds delicious. I look forward to reading about how it does in your garden.


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