Saturday, April 17, 2010

What to see (and dig) in my Open Garden

Since people tend to see more when they know what they are looking for, and an April garden is a bit sparse, I thought I would suggest what you might look for next Saturday, April 24, from 9:00 to 11:00 AM at 56 Gordonhurst Avenue, Montclair.. If you want to "Oh, wow!"" come on July 10 and/or Sept. 11.

If you haven't been here before, be sure to notice the solar panels on the roof (which can be seen only in the back of the back yard) and the greenhouse window sticking out of our kitchen window. My brother-in-law installed it from a commercial kit 30 years ago, and I am very pleased with it. You may have a similarly talented relative, or I suspect handyman Stephane Mortier would be glad to help you install one.

A cold frame that you are not likely to miss holds Burpees 2-season Chinese cabbage, planted in August and harvested all winter, and lettuce at various stages. More lettuce has recently germinated in the opposite side of my garden, and mature lettuce can be seen in the greenhouse window, where it has been harvested all winter. More lettuce has volunteered near the entrance to the inner garden.

Floating cover that admits both light and water is over some crops. This is used to keep crops warm in colder weather, but is now being used as protection from pests. I am currently protecting mature collards that we are eating now in an effort to deter wayward woodchucks. There is also some over broccoli because apparently broccoli leaves have become rabbit food. I use it for a couple months each spring to keep more traditional pests (insects and birds) off the seeds and seedlings of root crops -- carrots, parsnips, and beets this year, all planted in April. That is my biggest FC.

Wall of waters (WOWs) are around at least one tomato plant. I would have taken these off, but I knew you were coming. You will see lots of tomato plants. I started the sweet-100s (red) in January and the sun golds (yellow) in February. They both have flowers! Can you see any little tomatoes?

Other veggies include: garlic in odd spots; one kale plant; hukarei turnips, both some of respectable size and some that just germinated; newly planted-out celery just inside the inner garden, abundant arugula that we do eat but are primarily there to keep woodchucks from broccoli, small pak choi plants inside the fence that were supposed to protect the climbing peas; sugar snap peas readying to climb the fence apparently faster than their protectors; and shorter, earlier peas next to the grape vine. With luck, some corn and beans seedlings will be popping up to their left, sown where I removed the primary cold frame. Celery seedlings coddled inside and not appetizing to woodchucks are along the inside of the fence, interspersed with parsley, which is woodchuck food.

Flowers include bulbs and (probably still blooming) and lilacs. Columbine volunteers at odd spots. Shakespeare wrote repeatedly of "sweet
columbine." Bulbs were not brought from the Middle East until after his death, so I suspect columbine was the first flower he saw each spring.
Most exciting to me are the small red primroses in front of the holly tree and near to the curb, descended from those of my great-grandfather.

The anti-woodchuck plant (name unknown - can anyone inform me?) has planted itself in seven spots around the garden. Here's hoping it's successful! The Irish Spring soap stuffed in the fences keep away deer. successful this year! Vacant spots are still available for supersteak tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, zucchini, cucumbers, and basil. Their seedlings are now in the greenhouse window, but if you come back Saturday, May 22, 9-11 AM, you can see them planted in the ground.

Bring bag(s) and/or pot(s) if you want to dig and take home some strawberries, oregano, Dutch iris, fern, and/or periwinkle (aka myrtle, vinca) plants. You may bring digging tools, but I probably have enough for you to borrow. There are a couple of baby lilac bushes for the first-comers.

Helen wrote me the following on April 15. " has predictions for the next 15 days. The lowest they predict is 39 degrees on Sun 4/18 and Friday 4/23." I am getting nervy about planting things out!


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