I Love This Time of Year

Here in USDA zone 6, it’s a little early to stick most veggies in the ground, but we did get the peas, asparagus, lettuce, potatoes, herbs, and strawberries planted.  The rest of the stuff is still hanging out in the cold frame, or indoors.  For some reason, my sage and rosemary didn’t overwinter, although the oregano made it.  It’s hit or miss with the thyme.  Typically, thyme is treated as an annual here, but some years it comes back.  Oh, well.  At least herbs are inexpensive.  It wasn’t even a particularly cold winter.  We got snow, but never more than a few inches at a time.

I do not understand why our asparagus all seemed to die.  We had no problem with it at our old house, but two years in a row, here, it died over the winter.  So … third try’s a winner?  This time, I ordered 50 dug-ups of the Jersey Knight variety from Burpee.  That doesn’t mind the crappy, rocky clay soil we have.  Those crowns arrived looking phenomenal.  There’s no reason they shouldn’t do okay in that raised bed we constructed out of old railroad ties we found in the woods on our property.  Those ties still have the old rusty hardware on them, and the creosote coating shows no signs of giving up the ghost.  Plus, where we dug up the lawn to put in that bed is in full sun.

All I can think is that getting beefy looking dug-ups, instead of bare roots from TSC, where there’s no telling how long they’d been sitting on the shelf, drying out, is a better choice.  TSC is great for fruit trees, though.  You’ll get 6′ tall whips for ~$15, instead of ones half that size.  I can guarantee we’ll be harvesting Kieffer pears in September, and we only put in that tree last year.  Probably won’t get any Bartletts or Honeycrisp apples for another year or more, but those trees leafed out just fine.  We may or may not get Elberta peaches this year.  That tree bloomed, but we only put it in two years ago.

I also ordered a few perennials I wanted that we had at our old house, but not at this one:  a couple of lilacs, a butterfly bush, some coneflowers, bee balm, and a wisteria.  One of those lilacs can go in where we ripped out an unruly barberry.  That barberry obviously got enough sun there, because the leaves turned quite red, rather than staying green, as they would if it were in shade.  Lilacs are pickier than barberries about getting enough sun.  They can get powdery mildew if it stays wet for long enough, although it doesn’t really seem to hurt them any more than leaf miner does to columbines.

Mom called a few minutes ago to thank me for the fruit & cheese basket I sent her for Mother’s Day.  She’s hard to shop for.  Flower arrangements don’t really float her boat, and she’s got a brown thumb, so something like a miniature rose is out of the question.  I never know from one week to the next what she’s decided she can or can not eat, but I know apples, pears, and hard or semi-hard cheese are okay.

I’ll bring her hybrid phalaenopsis back to her when we visit tomorrow.  She sent it home with me last Fall when it was done blooming, mostly so she wouldn’t kill it.  It was a gift from a friend of hers.  Anyway, I got it to respike from the old spikes, and the first of the 15 buds is just starting to open.  I predict it will come back home with me a couple of months from now for safekeeping.  She’s deathly afraid of overwatering it, and afraid to let it have any sunlight, which is ridiculous, because they can handle morning or late afternoon sun just fine.  The main thing is water it thoroughly when the sphagnum moss in which it’s planted gets crunchy, and let it drain before popping it back in the cachepot.  The “only water it half a cup, once per week” care instructions that came with it are crazy.  You could flush the pot with a gallon of water, and as long as you let it drain, it’s not a problem.

Then again, I’ve been growing orchids for close to 30 years, so caring for them is no biggie to me.  On the whole, they’re pretty tough customers, but there are some species I don’t have the right conditions to grow, such as masdevallias.  It gets too hot in the summer for them, and I refuse to turn on my air conditioning until it reliably reaches the 90s Fahrenheit during the day.  No way am I going to spend ~$200/month on electricity, just to keep some picky plants alive.  Fresh air and open windows are great during the few weeks per year it’s comfortable to do so; there’s nothing quite like a good cross breeze running through the house.

2 thoughts on “I Love This Time of Year

  1. my neighbor down the hall has been going nuts planting since the management company of our building gave him the OK. He’s been planting outside my window with the supervision of my cat. Angel trumpet, datura, petunia, dahlia, moss roses, ugh….forgot what he called one plant, snapdragons, bachelor buttons, and along the back edge of the property we’re trying milkweed again for monach caterpillars

    • I love snapdragons. They sort of prefer crappy, sandy, mostly dry soil, but when you pinch their little jaws, they do snap like a dragon. They’re annuals, but they will occasionally drop seed at the end of the season that germinates next spring. I get the same thing happening with volunteer basil seeds the next season.

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