Thursday, April 30, 2009

OG report, freebees, request

We had a glorious (if somewhat hot!) Open Garden Saturday. Over 100 people signed in. Thanks to Nancy Taiani, William Pew, and Fred Chichester for collection those signatures! It seems that the other two gardens we busy too.
A new feature that seemed appreciated was digging your own strawberries, oregano, and vinca. Only one lily of the valley remained in that strange spot, but nobody seemed interested in ferns, as far as I could tell. This was good for me too. I'll have trowels out on May 16 and 17 for those who want to dig their own strawberries, oregano, and/or vinca.
The last is worth some commentary. Kathy Salisbury, Essex County Horiculturalist, spoke at the Brookdale Park Conservacy Tuesday evening about invasive species and good substitutes. Norway maples, burning bush, ivy, and vinca were four of the invasives that endanger our ecosystem. (NJ has 2100 natives, including half the native plants that can be found from PA to Maine.) I'm relieved that nobody picked up any of my ivy, but I asked Kathy in the question period how naughty is the vinca. She says as long as it is contained in a yard surrounded by other yards, it's not too bad because it spreads with runners. (In contrast to burning bush, where birds eat the berries and deposit them a considerable distance away.) Thus if you keep it from spreading where you don't want it, it's okay. It is pretty with little purple flowers blooming for weeks now, and it's easy to walk on.
On the taking end, feel free to leave LITTLE plastic seedling containers on the steps at 56 Gordonhurst Avenue. These are the items, usually black, in which you buy seedlings for your garden. Don't throw them away! I'm giving away enough seedlings now to be concerned about running out.
Back to the Open Garden, many were interested in my cold frames, that Johnny Seeds again sells. The Chinese cabbage was bursting out of one of them; this is the latest I've every let it stay in the cold frame and it was a mass of flowers. Since Saturday I have picked it all, removed the cold frame, dug some compost into the soil, and planted corn and bean seeds, which should be peeking through for the May 16 OG. Today I took the leftovers to Tony's Food Kitchen (which had a frighteningly long line) and received a touching thanks. I hardly felt I deserved it because the chipmonks' thievery meant I had considerably less than in previous years. If you are cleaning out unneeded harvests, I suggest taking them to St. Luke's Church late in the morning some Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.
Each visiting group also asked about my twig-and-wood pile, my compost heap that takes a decade to decay. It's unusually big this year, partly (I think) because growth has been abundant the past 12 months, and partly because I am doing more gardening than usual while I'm resting ("cutting back").
The mature winter rye plants also got considerable attention. People asked what I do with them. I cut off the tops and use them for mulch. Then I dig under (turn over) the roots. "When?" I confessed that I have read you are supposed to do it at least three weeks before planting in that spot, but I try for at least three... minutes. Some rules are not worth following. I never understood that one.
Someone asked what the garlic roots look like now, and I pulled one up. I wish now I had given it to the questioner. It's pretty clear I have far more garlic than I can use -- all descended from one clove I bought some time ago. Maybe I can give some away on May 16, if it's not too late.
I kept ONE parsnip plant, which was noticeable. We've since eaten the parsnip in stir-fries with the Chinese cabbage. Today I found a half carrot nearby while I was raking that spot! It was a nice touch with dinner this evening.
If you missed Saturday's tour, you have two more opportunities. If you were there, you will find quite a different garden on May 16. There will be ELEVEN gardens on tour that weekend. Along with Renae Baker's, which was open this past Saturday, that makes a dozen gardens open this spring, nine in Montclair, and one each in Nutley, Bloomfield, and West Orange. Home gardening is an idea whose time has come -- which even our president's family is embracing. And it's fun.

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