Rosemary Fitzpatrick

Strawberries worth the effort

Strawberries are fraught with enemies. For you to have a bowl of these beauties on your kitchen counter you need to put in some effort. Yes, there will be weeds among the plants; yes, slugs will damage the crop; yes, birds will tear them to bits ; yes, moose will pull up the whole plant and eat it; yes, you need to do something to help them. They are so worth it. Our strawberries may not be the huge red-all-the-way-through product you get at the grocery store. Be thankful. Ours are delicious. Smaller, paler and sublime.

Patience is a virtue in gardening – and everything else

While fulfilling my civic obligation of jury duty this month I met some lovely people and was reminded that I am losing touch with those of you who live at the higher elevations. There is nothing like being in a large (or small, depending on the stage of the process) room with a couple of dozen bored adults who have been waiting an hour and a half for the ball to get rolling. Might as well strike up a conversation about gardening.

What’s not to like about March?

Almost everyone loves March. This one in particular, with the big blue sky, sparkly stars, has been the darling of the months. My husband is skiing and using his snowmachine to his heart’s delight. The days are so very obviously longer. The snow is fabulous for protecting plants.

There’s a whole lot of nothing between Homer and rest of the world

We bought our daughter’s car and made the decision that rather than let it moulder in her climate we would bring it home now. We have made the trip in the winter before and know that, if the weather is in our favor, and that’s a giant “if,” the road can be traveled with speed and determination.

Embrace February: It really is the best time of year

On Mondays John and I go on a “dump date.” We load the pickup (and for the two of us there certainly isn’t very much going out of here), each get a coffee, split a cookie and head to the dump. Now here comes the best part: We take the long way home. Up Diamond Ridge, over Skyline, down East Hill or some configuration of that. We often head out East to ski at McNeil. Once we even made it to Hope for breakfast. It keeps me in touch with what’s going on at different elevations. I am really comfortable here at 396 feet and need a reminder of what you are experiencing.

Berries bursting out all over

Where to start? The last two weeks have been so full, so interesting, so busy. And all of this in the garden. I can’t imagine life without it. So this column will be a bit disjointed, stick with it and I’m sure you’ll find something interesting and, hopefully, useful.

The Kachemak Gardener

Each and every growing season there is one something that astonishes, that amazes, that speaks to our hearts. And this year it’s lilacs. Their season is short and this time around about three weeks early. I can usually count on them to be blooming for the Fourth of July barbecue. Not this year, they will be way done. But for now let’s all revel in their magnificence. 

The Kachemak Gardnener

There are basic truths that bear repeating: 

• Keep your garden small;

• Weed, if you can;

• Water, if you have it; and

• People, just shake your tomato plants. That’s all it takes to fertilize the bloom and you will have more tomatoes than you know what to do with. Keep your electric toothbrush in the bathroom. 

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get started. 

Annuals fulfill purpose by adding color, punch to garden

I talk too much. Three times this past week I have invited interested gardeners over to look at this creation. Now, I said “interested” and they are but when I start going into way too much detail and their eyes glaze over I should take the hint. Live and learn. Plus, I don’t have time to go into all this detail. There is work to be done.

Your garden is about so much more than blooms, veggies

T

here is more than meets the eye in a garden. Liz Johnson and I shared many a pot of tea on dark winter days as we poured over seed catalogs. We shared responsibility for the Garden Clubs’ “Car Wash Garden” for eons. That was an effort that sucked up more of our time and effort than a hanging basket that needs daily watering. 

Who would have thought we’d be mowing lawns in April?

Please, don’t let Al Gore know how much I’m loving this March and April. I feel like I should be wearing a hair shirt and walking on my knees to atone for my delight.

I’ve often said that if you don’t want nine months of winter/almost winter than you shouldn’t live here. You want fruit trees? Go to Washington. You want watermelons? Go to Texas. You want everything else? Stay right here.

Early spring is amazing

Never in the 44 years of living in Alaska have I had a garden party the first weekend of April, and there we were, with margaritas no less. Amazing. 

There has been a lot to think about the past two weeks. For instance: A friend pointed out that never ever in all her years in the Far North has she had to consider an outdoor seating arrangement in the shade. Now there is food for thought. 

Believe it or not: Gardening season around the corner

So here it is Sunday evening at elevation 396 feet. I spent the afternoon shaking almost two feet of wet, heavy snow off shrubs. I know, I should have been wearing a hair shirt. This activity felt like penance for loving challenging kinds of ornamental plants. 

But love them I do, and shake off the snow I will. The snow has turned to rain and the branches will probably break without my attention. Not on my watch. 

Now’s the time to assess your shrubs

This column is being written on Super Bowl Sunday. Taking into consideration that it would be impossible for me to care less about football I decided to address the mock orange that has graced the west corner of the house for about 15 years. I have yet to prune it. The other two have been pruned but this particular one of the trio is so magnificent that I have had pruning fear. Until last year. It did not bloom with gusto. This is a clear indication that something needed to be done. Also, the inside of the shrub was mostly dead wood.   

Gardening turns to game of wait-and-see

Never ever have I had a garden take such a leisurely farewell. Well, maybe last year’s. Maybe I need to get used to leisurely.  

Most of the annuals are still blooming, granted they are on their last hurrah. The foxgloves (Foxy) are blooming again after being deadheaded weeks ago. The James McFarland lilac’s second round of blooms are going to seed. Usually they don’t bloom all of the way out let alone go to seed. Interesting. 

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