Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cool Season Planting & Spring Clean-Up

Hi gardening friends!

I hope you are taking advantage of this warm weather to start planting your edible
garden. Today's overcast skies and warm temperatures actually make perfect planting weather. This weekend we got our edible garden started by planting some cool season crops. Although, I should say that my husband planted our garden this weekend, while I supervised. Unfortunately I sprained my neck, so wearing a neck brace and sitting in a garden chair with our dog in my lap I relaxed and supervised my husband do all the planting.

In October we planted crimson clover cover crop in all of our raised beds. This overwintering cover crop helps boost the nitrogen absorption in the soil, prevents erosion and blocks weeds. It's both a soil booster while growing and as a green manure once it's been hoed. This weekend we lightly hoed it down, not to disturb the root mass too much but enough to kill the plants. We added some balanced organic fertilizer-bat guano, alfalfa meal, rock phosphate, kelp meal and greensand. We covered it all up with a fresh batch of beautiful black steamy compost and watered it in well. Our raised beds looked beautiful and ready to go!

We planted from seeds and starts:
Sugar snap peas
Lacinato kale
Walla walla onions

The garlic and shallots we planted last October are beautiful green spikes of leaves reaching for the sky. We were going to plant our potato tubers also, however, it took hours to plant what seemed like hundreds of leeks and onions. So we saved potato planting for next weekend. I was super tempted to seed start some things I do in April like carrots, sunflowers and scarlet runner beans due to the consistently warm weather. However, remembering our low night temperatures and frost last week I stopped myself. In the heat of spring planting fever it is sometimes really hard to exercise common sense and impulse control! I also reminded myself it's not even spring equinox yet.

The herb bed was cleaned up as well. Sweet little chives poking out of the cool soil announce the arrival of spring. I can't wait for their cheery lavender flowers that I use in spring salads and omelets. Rosemary and sage are coming back to life. No sign yet of my oregano, which may have died during the winter. I pruned up all the dead growth off the thyme. I planted new cilantro, parsley and chervil. I just love fresh snips of tiny fragrant chervil during the spring. If you haven't tried it in your herb garden it doesn't take up much space and is super delicious. The seeds need light to germinate, so when planting don't cover them up but do keep them well watered-moist, not drowning.

I grow several perennial herbs in pots and some of them were becoming quite overgrown and tangled in their own roots. I divided and transplanted lemon balm, peppermint, spearmint and apple mint. I just love these fresh mints for summer iced tea and dessert garnishes. The entire mint family is best grown in pots where it's rampant aggressively spreading runners can be contained. That being said when dividing the plants in half for transplant, either give them to friends for planting or dispose of them in your trash can. Sent to your compost bin you could unintentionally end up with a garden full of mint plants!

That's all for now gardening friends. I'll keep monitoring our weather and update you on planting timing. Enjoy the dry weather and happy gardening!


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