March in the Garden

This should be what we’re seeing in April! But with our mild winter and warm start to spring, the daffodils were out before the calendar even officially proclaimed the new season. We’ve barely had a low below freezing this month, and the forecast doesn’t show any for the next two weeks.

Here’s how it looks, starting with some of last fall’s plantings:

Einstein (daffodil) in Woodstock (hyacinth)


A more modest daffodil display just a week ago

Spring Planting, and the Search for Sun Golds

We are finally beginning to sow some seeds. It feels a bit late to be starting to get seedlings going under the grow lights, but somehow time keeps getting away from us. That, or the urge to attack all those white flowering weeds in the flower beds (never mind the lawn) that I have finally identified as bittercress. (I fear that will be a long battle, but that is another tale.)

leeks, tomatoes and more

So Sunday night I cleaned out all the old plastic planting cells and trays in bleach and water, hoping to kill anything bad. Tonight we started filling them up. Two sets of nine planting cells were packed with leek seeds, one Musselburgh and the other a Scottish heirloom from somewhere. (Two empty seed packets –yay!) If they all come up, we’ll need a new bed!

We’re planting only four cells per set of nine in the rest of the tray. I was only supposed to put in one tomato seed per cell, so don’t tell the Brit that I didn’t always stick to that rule! One went for Ramapos, another for Brandywines, yet another for black cherry tomatoes and a fourth for the unnamed orange golf-ball sized ones that add a nice mix of color to a summer salad. I finally used up all the gardeners delight cherry tomatoes. That’s already five varieties of tomatoes (and don’t ask how many other varieties of tomato seeds we have!) We also used up the pimento red pepper seeds (“produces a lot of small squat peppers,” said the friend who gave them to us). Maybe they will be this year’s pyramid peppers … more plants and peppers than we know what to do with!

tomatoes and more tomatoes

After all this, why do we think we need to buy sun gold tomato seeds? Worse, why are we making the effort to search them out when the usual suspects don’t have them? These don’t even have the cachet of heirloom seeds. It took calling a seed seller and asking what stores in the area carried the brand, and then calling them and finding one that was willing to include sun golds in his next order (or so he says, still waiting for confirmation. Paying postage that is more than the price of a packet of seeds crosses my pain threshold).

Botanical Interests, a family seed company with appealing packaging (drawings, rather than photos), gives this description:” Beautiful, plump, tangerine colored fruits are quite simply, very sweet and juicy! Provide support for vigorous vines that easily reach 6 feet long. Allow tomatoes to fully ripen for optimum flavor; fruits should almost fall off the vine when ready. You won’t find these gems in the grocery stores, since for the commercial market tomatoes must be picked under-ripe for shipping.”

Now do you understand? When I grew them a few years ago, I ate them like candy. And we’re not the only ones. We’ll be sharing seeds or seedlings with colleagues, and I’m thinking of a few family members who’d like them too.

Where am I going to find room in the beds for all these tomatoes, plus basil, greens, peas, beans and more? That’s something I’ll worry about in May!

First Daffodils!

first daffodil of 2012I glanced out the kitchen window yesterday and spotted a blob of yellow–our first daffodil of 2012! Given how open the trumpet was at 8 a.m., I figure it had bloomed a day earlier and another one looked ready to bloom Friday. Another result of our unseasonably warm winter. Actually, a lot of our early daffodils look like they could be blooming within a week or so.

Unfortunately, this warm winter also means that weeds are already coming up, especially this one that was all over last year. They come with little white flowers that turn into seeds that spread everywhere. Time to do some weeding by hand today and go find some corn-gluten pre-emergent to (hopefully) battle those that haven’t yet taken off. Corn gluten is an organic weed preventer that should be applied when the forsythia bloom, which can’t be far away. It prevents all seeds from germinating so don’t use it where you’ve just put down grass, flower or vegetable seeds! You’re supposed to water it in well, something I need to do! (Unfortunately, you can’t let rain do that for you)

evil weed