Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pruning revelations, preparations

What a lovely day! The robins were busily assuring me it was March.

Soil! I can now see most of the garden. The two kale plants that survived the insect onslaught last fall are trying valiantly to stand up after being squashed for two months; I'm sure they will succeed. The collards under the floating cover are also working hard to revive, having been similarly squashed. Floating cover doesn't provide protection from the weight of snow. More amazing, some lettuce seems to have survived under floating cover and snow!

Meanwhile, February slipped by without my usual chore of pruning being done at all. When I snipped some unruly peach branches two weeks ago, the juicy ground soon discouraged me. Before that there was too much snow to think of venturing to the fruit trees.

Knowing that I usually sow Sugar Ann peas the first week of March next to the house (and the cold frame), and enjoying the slight rise of the ground next to the house that causes more solid ground, I decided to prepare by pruning the grape vine next to the house. What a surprise! It grew last year unlike any other. I trimmed and trimmed; it took me several days of outside gardening. I finished that job today, and decided to take the yield to the wood compost heap. Slosh, slosh! I hope the lawn will forgive me and that I haven't ruined it. Anyway, I don't think I will go there again for a while.

So I deposited the rest of the grapevine branches (I had four loads!!) at the brink of the lawn in the back of the yard on the left, where they won't get in the way of my trips to the compost heap when I think I can venture there again. This motivated me to cut some of the peach tree that you may remember was getting in the way. This is a much bigger job than the grapevine.

For all the trees (and the kiwi vine) that I prune in February I also spray with dormant oil as I go. This keeps the baby bugs from emerging and causing trouble as adults. Last year I also sprayed the peach tree with copper oil, and I got more peaches than recent years. I could do better. I had hoped to spray both more thoroughly this year, but having lost a month on garden preparations may thwart that.

I started Green Goliath broccoli seeds ages ago, and the few seedlings are still less than an eighth of an inch high. My Bonanza Hybrid broccoli, started much later, is approaching two inches, so I thought I would throw the Green Goliath away. Then it occurred to me one of you might want free seedlings. Does anyone? They've done fine for me in other years, except for woodchuck effects recently.

Next week I'm going to get a haircut, and I'll ask them to save hair cuttings for me. They've been generous in the past, and it does keep away woodchucks. It looks awful, but just around the broccoli...

I wonder when the first deer might come. I want to put fresh Irish Spring soap around just before, which seems to keep them away.

Fedco said they would backorder both Sugar Ann (short) and Sugar Snap (higher, later, and sweeter) peas, and the accompanying explanation didn't sound reassuring to me. So finally Thursday I ordered them from Johnny Seeds. Yesterday they both came. ("Oh, ye, of little faith!") So I have twice as many pea seeds as I need in fresh new packets. What should I do with them?

I may sow my first Sugar Ann seeds tomorrow. And maybe I'll also sow some lettuce seeds outside. What exciting thoughts!


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