Well, here we are again at the start of another new season.
Things are hopping at the greenhouse getting our plants happily in their new homes. All you gardeners out there are probably chomping at the bit to get out in your garden and “get at it!!” So here goes with “my two cents” regarding some early spring tasks…
- Organize yourself before planting. Decide what you want to plant; draw up your garden plan; organize your seeds; purchase the seeds you need or find out who might have the starter plants (me!!). Make a planting schedule. I really like this simple link about planning your garden: http://usagardener.com/breaking_ground/plan_a_vegetable_garden.php
- Group plants with similar needs together. Use companion planting – it really does work. Here is a link to a chart for those of you who “like pictures”: http://afristarfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Companion-Planting.jpg …and here is one for those of you who “like words”: https://www.slideshare.net/sodj49v/vegetable-companion-planting-chart-theculvers
- If you are starting seeds, hang out with the “tough guys” – look for terms like “drought tolerant”, “pest resistant”, “hardy” or “disease resistant” – all good features. Check this link for a refresher on seed starting (it’s hard to beat the Farmer’s Almanac for good basic gardening info): https://www.almanac.com/content/starting-seeds-indoors
- If you are buying plants, buy them from a local vendor that chooses plants that do well in our climate. Especially with perennials, make sure that the zone suits ours (Zone 5). Some stores will sell plant material that does not live through our winters – buyers beware!
- It’s a great time to do the pruning on some of your shrubs. Make sure that you have a good sharp cutting tool at the get-go. Most shrubs do well with a spring pruning (check whether your clematis or hydrangeas bloom on new or old wood – you don’t want to cut off this year’s flower buds!). Begin by cutting out any broken branches; then open up the shrub by cutting out branches that are rubbing on each other. With roses, cut out any branches thinner than a pencil – they don’t have enough strength to hold up flowers. With many of your shrubs (spirea, hydrangea), you can cut between a third and a half of the remaining branches while keeping your eye on creating the balance you like – you can always do an “Edward Scissorhands”! Here’s a good pruning reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuzIqFmu390
- PLEASE, PLEASE do not start scratching around your perennials too early in the season. Let the weather warm up so you do not disturb the friendly insects that may be sleeping under the debris around your shrubs. You can add compost or some kind of perennial food anytime now for in and around your perennials. Cut off the old stems from last year.
- This is also the time to check all your tools and equipment – sharpen your lawnmower and garden tools; check the tires on your wheelbarrows, clean your containers in prep for planting (use a 1 to 9 solution (10%) of bleach for cleaning and soaking).
PLANT PICK: ARUGULA!
There is nothing subtle about arugula. Its peppery intensity may be an acquired taste; however, once you have the craving for it nothing can compare! Plant it early and arugula can easily be one of the first things you harvest from your garden; re-sow for a continuous harvest throughout the summer. If you leave some of the earlier planted arugula to form seed pods and let them overwinter, they will self seed – so nice to have fresh arugula in the spring with almost no effort! Here are a few links for you to get to know this lovely green food.
This article covers the health benefits of arugula: https://www.naturalfoodseries.com/11-benefits-arugula/
and this one has great tips on growing arugula: https://www.almanac.com/plant/arugula
Here’s a great recipe to try!
- 4 medium beets
- 1 tbsp olive or avocado oil
- sea salt, to taste
- ground pepper, to taste
- 4 cups arugula
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 oz. crumbled goat cheese
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Peel beets using a sharp knife (optional – feel free to simply scrub the outside thoroughly before cutting), then cut into cubes.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Once done, let cool, then add to large bowl with arugula, walnuts, goat cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss, then serve!
UPDATES FROM THE GREENHOUSE
…and THIS week!