Garden Daybook 4/18/13


Isn’t she gorgeous?! “She” is a Hymenocallis. Commonly known as Peruvian daffodil or Spider lily. The name “daffodil” is tricky because most “daffodils” bloom in the spring but the Peruvian blooms in summer. The 2-3 foot, strap-like leaves push out first and are followed by a long slender stem topped with a sweet smelling bloom. Because Peruvian daffodils are hardy to zone 9-10 I grow mine in large pots. The bulbs are planted about 8 inches deep. When they show growth I will fertilize them every 2 weeks with an acid fertilizer. Below you can see my two pots of Peruvian daffodils – on either side of the arbor. FYI – – this is a picture of the pots last summer – before bloom. This year’s bulbs have just been planted!

peruvian daffodil 2

When the tops shrivel up in the fall cold we carry the pots down the into basement and stash them behind the furnace. I keep the pots dry all winter and drag them back outside in the spring when the temperatures stay above 50. This year, because the bulbs have been in their pots for 2 years, I emptied them and sorted out the bulbs from the soil and old roots. You can see one of many bulbs I found buried in old soil and roots.

peruvian daffodil 4

I ended up with two baskets full of bulbs. I have enough bulbs to plant both pots AND to take to our local plant swap. The Plant Swap will be held Thursday, May 16, 6-8 p.m. at Farm and Home Hardware, 120 South Main, Wellington, Ohio 44090. I will plant the biggest bulbs in my two pots and plant some of the smaller bulbs into a small garden bed to “grow on” to flowering size. You just might be able to take home some of the my extra Peruvian bulbs if you come to the plant swap!

peruvian daffodil 6

This bulb measures a little over 3 inches across. It is definitely a keeper – and should bloom this summer. It amazes me that these bulbs store so easily – year after year – in the basement and continue to bloom year after year. Even better, as the bulbs grow larger they increase in number so you will eventually have extra to share.

peruvian daffodil

I keep a close watch on soil temperatures this time of year. A quick read thermometer is inexpensive and works well. A soil temperature of 50 degrees tells me that it is safe to plant the seeds of kale, spinach, peas, turnips, and radishes. Transplants of onions, leeks, lettuces can also be safely put into your garden. I like to wait for the soil to warm a bit before I put in cabbages, broccoli, celery, cauliflower transplants, and the seeds of parsnips, beets, carrots, and chard. Patience, patience.

April 17 soil temp

I started to clean the herb garden this morning and discovered these poor iris rhizomes. The soil movement of freezing and thawing this winter “heaved” the roots up out of the ground. The picture shows the iris exactly as I found them. Winter heaving is a common problem for shallow rooted perennials in cold winter areas. The solution – if they are discovered during cold weather when the soil is not workable – is to carefully apply dry mulch around the roots to protect them until they can be dug out and replanted at the proper level. Do not, I repeat do not, simply try to shove the plants back into the ground with your foot. The roots will likely be damaged and you may lose plants. Patience! Allow the soil to warm up and dry out and then replant them carefully.

winter heaved iris 3Below you can see that I have replanted the iris at the proper level – with the rhizomes just below the surface. The roots will make their way down into the soil and the iris will reestablish well. AND – – I ended up with extra iris – to share at the plant swap!

reset small iris

Back in the vegetable garden the sorrel has really taken off and is just about ready to pick. FYI sorrel is a perennial spring green – the top dies down after a hard frost, the roots live over the winter and then push new growth in the spring. I started my sorrel from seed a few years ago. It adds a tangy, lemon flavor to soups and salads. AND, the new green growth stands out in the bare spring garden. It seems to give the rest of the garden a kick start.

april sorrel (2)

The Scilla and Chionodoxa have covered the front garden like grass. The blue is so very beautiful I am always sad when the flowers fade and disappear. But then again, maybe they are so special because their bloom time is so short. These tiny blue bulbs are a perfect example being in the moment. They have their season and if you miss them you have to wait until next year to experience them. This river of blue has obliterated most of the path in the front garden and I love it!

scillas april 2

I hope you are able to take time to enjoy our beautiful Ohio spring. Yes, it’s wet and muddy. Yes, spring storms pass through bringing wind and gray days. Just remember, spring is here for a short time – use it or lose it!

Hey from the farm,
Fran The Country Cousin

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