Garden Daybook 3/27/14

spring garden 400

From  The Gardener’s Way – A Daybook of Acts and Affirmations, by Maureen Gilmer, comes this  old Scottish prayer: “O Lord who painteth the petal of the Polyanthus purple, shine down in all thy power.”  I don’t know about other gardeners but I want to point my hands and eyes to the heavens and repeat this prayer over and over. Puhleeze, will you PLEASE shine down in all your power and warm the air, the soil, and my garden!! As of today the ground is  ever so slowly defrosting and the snow is still drifted across the back yard.  But . . . a garden walk proves to me that spring is inevitable. I found  definite signs that winter is slowly losing it’s battle.

perennial leeks2 3 26 14 400

Perennial leeks are one of the first vegetables to show spring growth in my garden. I planted a row of them in a raised bed last October. Each leek put down roots and multiplied before the ground froze. The 15 small plants laying on the ground grew from a single, fall planted leek.  As soon as the soil is workable I will plant out a few rows of these leeks, spacing them about 3 inches apart. I can pull the leeks any time – they are good at any size. As the spring planted leeks mature, you will find that the “mother leek” will send up several small leeks around her.   These are the leeks that I will replant again next October. Free leeks! Plant a row of perennial leeks in the fall and by early spring you will have enough for your garden and enough to share.

garlic 2 23 14 400

Every spring, when I grow weary of the cold and snow, I go into the garden and look for emerging garlic.  One day I find nothing and the next I find that the garlic leaves are up and worshipping the sun. The ground is still cold and looks frozen but garlic roots know spring when they feel it. This garlic was also planted last October when the cloves pushed roots and settled themselves down for our long Ohio winter. Long before I was thinking spring the garlic was growing.

spring sedum 400

Sedums look ready for spring before winter sets in. The picture shows Live Forever or ‘Sedum telephium’ in the early spring. When the foliage dies down in the fall the new growth for next spring is already evident. Most Sedums have the same habit. I find that it is best to cut the old growth away in the fall or in very early spring to prevent damaging spring growth.

sedum in winter 400

I leave the spent flower heads on my tall Sedums  over the winter because their “platform” flower heads hold snow so beautifully. I like to look out into my winter garden and watch snow collecting on the spent flower heads. They are my architecture in the winter garden.

sorrel 3 23 14 400

Sorrel is another early spring surprise. It is an easily grown  perennial spread by underground roots. Get it started and you will have it forever.  Plant sorrel in a bed of its own or in a large container so it doesn’t run rampant through your garden.  You can pick sorrel anytime after the leaves start growing. Sorrel soup is a springtime classic or rub olive oil and salt and pepper on a whole chicken and stuff the cavity with sorrel leaves and garlic before baking.

chamomile 3 23 14 400

My camomile – Matricaria chamomilla  or German camomile – is turning green and poking through fallen leaves in the herb garden. Camomile is a hardy annual meaning that as the flowers mature, they drop seeds that winter over and germinate early the following spring. Sometimes the seeds germinate in the fall and, if the tiny plants are protected by leaves and or snow, they might winter over and begin growth the following spring. I planted seed one time, years ago, and every spring I have a beautiful bed of Camomile for my tea. I dry the flower heads and steep them for a calming tea.

chamomile 400

If you have been hiding inside to avoid the cold and snow now is the time to get out into your gardens and see what is happening. Surprises await you!!

Hey from the farm,
Fran     The Country Cousin



































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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