Gardening all about enjoying it

Posted: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - 12:02pm  |  Updated: Apr 9 2015 - 3:29pm
By: Rosemary Fitzpatrick

It WILL snow. Do not fear it. Our environment needs water and snow is one way to get it. However much we get won’t last long. Think of it as adding nitrogen to the soil. Think of it as a plus. Or don’t think about it at all. 

The greenhouse is providing sufficient shelter for the tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and green beans that will live in there all season. The other crops are all seeded and planning on spending the next six weeks or so nicely tucked in.  They will be coddled until they meet the truth of a Far North summer. 

I was at my friend’s brand new greenhouse that is part of an addition to their home. What a marvel. It has a concrete heated floor with a wonderful drain and a hose that coils itself. They have gorgeous tomatoes. And, soon, they will have a table and chairs to have their morning coffee. 

Which brings me to how you use a greenhouse. Make the most of it. You can buy lovely starts at the greenhouses right here in our own town. They will be healthy and strong and ready to do business in  your greenhouse. Don’t overthink it. Whatever tomato variety is there will bring you joy.

Go ahead and plant peppers and eggplant. Add some flowers. Enjoy yourself. Don’t make too big a deal out of it. Set yourself up for success. You want to brag about your cucumbers. You want to give away tomatoes. You want to make pesto. You want to revel in the warmth. And a greenhouse is your vehicle. Enjoy. 

I’ve been out in the perennial beds cleaning off last year’s spent foliage. Some gardeners remove all of this in the fall but I like to leave it. My thinking is that it is a natural mulch, plus the spruce boughs on top of that. I try not to have anything so vulnerable that it can’t take a light frost this time of year. I just couldn’t resist the balmy weather of the past week and got after the clean up process. Except for the foxgloves. This is a big except.

I really like foxgloves but I don’t plant them every year because they can easily die out right about now. It doesn’t take much of a frost to bring them down. They are the only plant that needs attention. I could be done with the clean up process. Goodness. I left the spruce boughs on them. And my fingers are crossed. 

I only plant “Foxy” foxglove. Being a biennial (a plant that blooms the second season), “Foxy” defies that definition and will bloom the first year. This way I am sure to get at least something. But if they make it to the next season, that is — through the frost/thaw cycle — I will be rewarded with so much loveliness. And so will the hummingbirds. They really are worth the extra effort. 

The crocus have just about bloomed themselves out. There are other bulbs emerging, and, quite frankly, I haven’t a clue what they are. I could look around for the list of what I bought when. There is probably a map of the planting somewhere. But now that they are actually materializing I prefer to just enjoy them as they come. They are like a gift. 

Now is as good a time as any to move perennials. The ground here at elevation 396 feet is thawed enough to get the root mass out and about. I have way too many veronica. They are so easy to start from seed and, as usual, I got carried away and they are just overwhelming the whole scene. And they are hale and hardy. You would think a few of them wouldn’t have made it through the winter. Oh no. There they all are. So they are getting moved here and there. 

Same goes for the dianthus “Arctic Fire.” It keeps moving into the stone path. Apparently it really appreciates the heat from the stones. But there is nowhere to walk. So they have been moved farther back. 

Now is a good time to realign paths. We have a spot where the lawn mower really needs to get from point  A to point B. It has never been wide enough. It is now. Think about this. 

Take your sharp spade and edge the beds of your perennials. This is a tedious chore that executed early in the season will be done for the duration. Get after it. This is the very easiest way to maintain an edge. I have tried various edging material. The frost/thaw would heave it around and I had to keep tapping it down into place. And it’s ugly. That said, just use your spade and get the job done. 

The dandelions are popping right out of the ground. You won’t even need a tool, just reach down and gently pull. Out they come. Excellent. There is no beating them but we can keep their numbers down in the perennial beds. 

My friends, who have glorious begonias, have given me a container of commercial food for them. Oh my. What to do? Will my begonia envy lead me to the dark side? At this very moment they are as happy as can be in the greenhouse. Once they hit the window box is another story. For years and years I had success with them but something has been amiss the last three years. 

I killed the tubers that I had for 15 years or so. I left them out in October under the covered porch where they should have been happily drying out. But we had a cold snap and they succumbed. Drat. I have been trying to replace them without much luck. This will be the second year on these tubers. Let’s see what happens. I need them more than they know. 

Patience gardeners. Stay out of your raised beds. The soil is too wet. If you start working wet soil it will dry into hard-as-rock clumps that will plague you all season. Don’t touch your dirt.

Rosemary Fitzpatrick is a longtime Homer gardener. She has been writing Kachemak Gardener since 1990.

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