Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lilacs, lawns, onion grass, kiwi, etc.

I was sitting on my front steps this evening when a stranger walked by with his dog.

"Good evening," I said.

"I LOVE your lawn," was the response. "It looks great." I'm not one to let an opportunity like that slip by.

"We've lived here 33 years, and that lawn has never had any poisons, chemicals, power machinery, or watering." His jaw dropped. "This lawn has never been watered in 33 years!"

"It looks great. Just GREAT!"

I thought you might be interested in this interchange. (There is a moral to this tale.)

Lawns in the garden are less welcome than in the front yard. My late friend Tom Haas used to take such lawn and use it to repair places where it was better needed. I've been doing a bit of that this week, mostly where the irises, which I should have clipped last fall but didn't, have smothered the lawn.

One friend agreed this is a great year for onion grass (that scallion-type plant that pops up "everywhere"). She said her husband said it could be just mowed, but she thought that just postponed the problem.

I decided they were both right, but it started me thinking. To the extent that I have time and inclination to remove onion grass, I should give priority to places where it can't be mowed -- like in and around the garden, orchards, the garden paths, and the gravel driveway. I prefer using squat-time to plant peas or transplanting seedlings, but, oh well...

Someone telephoned me today wanting ideas on starting kiwi. Perhaps others are interested too. "Arctic kiwi" is the kind that grows here, and I bought it mail-order from Gurneys. The fruit has a smooth skin and is about twice the size of a grape. Best of all, it is ripe in late October. Last fall I was harvesting well into November, and kiwi taste wonderful!

The worst part is making a strong enough trellis. We did it about this time of year, and it reminded us of those constructions 2000 years ago. You need two sturdy wooden cross pieces about 6' high between which wires can be strung to hold the branches. Kiwi is HEAVY. A commercial pretty plastic trellis that I bought over 20 years ago for about $100 just plain blew over under kiwi weight.

However, after that the only care is pruning each February. The fruit come on last year's new growth, which is beginning to look promising by February. I recommend kiwi for all.

Yes, I'm putting out tomatoes now under wall-of-waters that I am taking off the brocolli. I'm thinning arugula and Hakurei turnips, and giving away some extras (not enough for a general advertisement). When I want a gentle activity standing, I cut away the dead parts of the raspberry plants, which are leafing out nicely. Soon we will eat the last of the Jeruselum artichokes, parsnips, and carrots, and start on the collards.

Lettuce is reasonably plentiful, and the Chinese cabbage in the cold frame is really showing off. I'll keep it for the April 25 Open Garden (2-4 PM at 45 Gordonhurst.

Isn't spring great?


No comments: