Garden

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. 

Chew on these morsels:

John and I took a lovely walk on the logging roads accessed off Knob Hill. Used now by hunters, they quickly diminish to four wheeler tracks. 

We took advantage of a beautiful day and one just before hunting season opened. Hunters can make their way to the Caribou Hills through here and better hunting opportunities. The logged land has regrown with grass, not exactly moose browse, so the habitat has changed markedly. 

But what did I see? 

Garden yields good crop of surprises

My, but I have been having fun this week. I needed to contact Janice Chumley, the integrated pest management technician at the Cooperative Extension Service office in Soldotna, not once but twice. 

And here’s why: I noticed a very white woolly substance on a branch of one of the tatarian honeysuckles. I took a picture and sent it to Janice who quickly responded with questions. So I slipped a Ziplok bag over it, cut it off and mailed it to her. 

Gardening: Peaceful, never dull

Jade the Dog hunts red-backed voles in the perennial beds. Mayhem. Destruction. Fewer red-backed voles. 

    What a trade-off. 

The vegetable garden is interesting this season. I thought this wonderful weather would be the answer to my ambitions. But “things” are strange. The Romanesque cauliflower did not make a head, just a huge central stalk. I finally accepted the inevitable and composted the whole lot. What a disappointment. 

Let these gardening rules guide you: Keep it small, keep it simple, enjoy it

I met a soon-to-be retired couple this afternoon. They are moving to Homer from Anchorage and building a new house. And one of the big questions is “how much garden?” She has a practical nature and recognizes that regenerating the disturbed soil will be a challenge. The consideration of strewing lupine seed is an option as is doing nothing. 

Gardening should be enjoyed; pick your battles

Busy. This is the point in the gardening season that so much happens at once. We have had a long spring, very unusual, and the extra days have been a boon to say the least. Nevertheless, there is much to be done. For those of you with a career and/or families now is the time to pick your battles. Prioritize. Make a list. Do whatever it takes to make your gardening experience a positive one.

Homer experiences rare, real spring

O, the wonder of bulbs. Over the years I have been reluctant to invest in them. There are too many variables that can lead to failure. Voles eating them and rain rotting them are a couple that pop into mind. 

Thus, I have avoided them, until recently. Over the past few years I have been inclined to stick a few of this and that here and there. Once again, my lack of interest in garden design manifests itself. But what can go wrong? Nothing.

Gardening all about enjoying it

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. 

Plenty of ways to make the most of March

I

 have given March the lions share of my thinking this winter. March does not agree with me. Not ever. But I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could make it work in my favor.  I could find a way to burn through it. So I looked up from the end of my nose to see what I could see and lo, there is much to be made of this month-that-makes-winter-seem-like-it-lasts-forever.

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