Garden – April Update

Despite our relatively mild winter, everything seems to be coming up a bit later this spring. This past week, I’ve finally been able to harvest asparagus. For over a month, I’ve been anxiously checking on the asparagus bed, wondering if they had died. Last year, I was first harvesting asparagus in March. Late indeed.

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I’ve had two harvestings similar to the above photo, and it seems like what started as a trickle might become a more steady stream. The photo above was from yesterday, and below there are already more spears that I can harvest today (as evidenced by the photo below).

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Unfortunately, most of what is growing in my asparagus bed is an invasive weed, Whitetop, that seems to be everywhere in my neighborhood. It’s one of those weeds that, if you pick one, 5 million more pop up in its place. My neighbors across the fence have tried smothering it with thick layers of cardboard and wood chips, and the Whitetop seems to be flourishing in their yard more than ever. In the ornamental areas I am actually applying a weed killer – – very systematically cutting off the top of the plant and applying the weed killer directly to the cut portion of the plant. I feel so guilty about this because I don’t like to use chemicals but I don’t know what else to do.

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Anyway, I’ve got two beds of snap peas coming up. I direct sowed these in February, which is what I normally do, and they have taken a really long time to come up. If I were more organized, I’d be testing the temperature of the soil rather than just doing the same thing from year to year. Oh well.

There’s also some overwintered carrots in this bed that I haven’t pulled yet. We have a bearded dragon who likes to eat the greenery from carrots, so I’m growing these for her.

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Here is my overwintered chard and garlic chives. I’ve been feeding the bearded dragon (named Lizzy) all winter from our garden. She loves chard.

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I planted the broccoli several weeks ago and the plants seem very happy. I’ve also been feeding Lizzy broccoli leaves. There is also some oregano that has spread to this bed.

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The raspberry plants I planted last year are coming up and already are sending out suckers.

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So, this is interesting, last year’s rosemary is still growing strong. Typically rosemary is an annual here so I’m impressed that this one made it through the winter. I don’t remember what variety I bought last year but I wonder if it was a cold hardy variety.

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An overall view of the main veggie area. I’ve been doing a lot of weeding, but still there are weeds everywhere.

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Oh gosh, I forgot to mention that I put tomato cages around each of the asparagus crowns because Milo likes to play with his construction vehicles in my beds and has crushed a good number of asparagus spears. I’m hoping the cages will somehow prevent this. Of course, I’ve asked him not crush the spears and then have asked him to play in a different place in the garden, and this is basically like giving him a double dog dare to do the exact thing I want him not to do.

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Here are my tomato plants that I started from seed.

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And speaking of the care and feeding of bearded dragons, I’ve got a nice selection of ‘dragon salad’ plants that I started from seed. These plants I actually place in her enclosure and she eats directly from the plants. I rotate them out every few days to give them a break. But in addition to the chard, carrot greens, and broccoli she eats from the veggie garden, she also enjoys mustard greens, collards, basil, mint, cilantro, and some variety of lettuce.

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Oh, and out of the 20 or so flats of peppers I tried to start, here are the two that germinated. I guess next year I’ll be investing in new pepper seed. And this year, I’ll be buying plants from the nursery.

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Onto the ornamental areas. Below is my newest flower bed in the backyard that I started last year and have continued to work on this spring. I’ve added more soil, moved the plants around, scattered flower seeds (many of which have already germinated!), and have added some compost. In the foreground of the below photo shows a pile of compost that I dumped right on the lawn. Our city has a great new compost program where it collects unlimited compostable materials from residents, and then we get to pick up a few yards of compost for ‘free.’ Because it’s a city program and there’s no way to regulate what people put into their compost bins, I’m only putting this compost on the ornamental areas. Just in spreading around this batch of compost, I’ve discovered a decent amount of trash (mostly remnants from plastic bags). So that reinforces that I don’t want to put this on anything that I’m going to eat.

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Here’s my other main flower bed in the back. Nothing new to report here, just that the existing plants are coming up nicely. In the background, the lilac still hasn’t blossomed. And you can see my sad excuse for a forsythia which I think has actually gotten smaller since I got it about 5 years ago. It was actually just about this size when I first planted it. Each year, it has grown a bit during the warm months and died back a bit over the winter. Forsythia’s are ubiquitous here and I assumed that one couldn’t go wrong with them. Kind of like with Black Eyed Susans. But maybe I got a lemon.

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And here is my main ornamental area in the backyard. I’ve been working to pull the neverending weeds, freshen mulch, and clean up the rock scapes. I procured a new trellis because I wanted to transplant the clematis that’s in the front yard to this space (because I think it would do better back here) but I wasn’t able to make that happen soon enough while it was still dormant.

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Front yard. I love our walkway that Josh installed last month (lower right). And all of the plants that I planted last year are doing well. I’ve placed rocks around some small and tender ones that I want to discourage Milo from crushing with his bulldozer. He really is an amiable kid with such a positive and funny personality, and I’m so happy that he loves playing outside in the dirt. But when it comes to dissuading him from doing something, it’s much better to modify the environment to create physical barriers and inconveniences rather than asking him not to do something. So, rocks around plants I don’t want him to crush.

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And here’s just the other side of the front yard. This past weekend, Milo helped me spread our compost on the ornamental areas and he did a great job. He helped me shovel the compost into the wheel barrow and then helped scatter compost. It was so cute because he kept saying things like, “This is hard work!” “There’s so much work to do!” and “I’m working hard!”

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I’ll leave you with a photo of the two of us at the local ‘March for our Lives’ last month.

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