Getting gardens ready for the early spring growing season.
The week before the vernal equinox was a busy one. The gardens were calling. I walked into a back yard and enjoyed seeing a section of the beautiful meditation garden that was highlighted by the Edgeworthia and the Lenten roses. I love Lenten roses (helleborus species) because they are true to their name, blooming without fail for Lent.
I studied the various colors of the Lenten roses and then carefully moved some of the leaves that had been left from the fall to find exactly what I thought would be there. The seedlings from last year’s blooms were up and thriving. Helleborus will often make a beautiful colony if it is planted in the proper location.
Lenten rose seedlings may be left to mature and become hardy. Fall is usually a good time to carefully lift the baby plants, separate them, and move them around the garden. They grow rather slowly and they seem to abhor the confinement of pots, but transplanting and thinning will give them room to grow and show off. If you ever end up with too many Lenten roses, they make a wonderful gift for a friend.
Please remember my rule for giving plants to “mature” ladies (see, Mom, one more time I didn’t say “old lady”)—if you are going to give plants to someone, it helps to plant them also. Sometimes a gift of plants creates a burden on the recipient. At any rate, the gift of Lenten roses will always be appreciated. They grow best in loose dirt in the shade and deer don’t seem to eat them. What a plant!
Enjoying the seedlings made me think of the reason I had come to this garden in the first place. I needed to patch up a little piece of fescue grass that had not performed properly. Here’s a picture of the problem.
Apparently some of the grass had washed out over the extremely rainy winter. At least, I think that’s what happened. One never knows. The usual practice is to aerate and over seed cool season grasses in September, but if it doesn’t turn out quite right, an early spring patching job will usually suffice. In my much younger days I tried just spreading seed on the ground but nothing ever came up. Later, I learned how to do it.
The important part of the process is to chop up the ground just a little so that the seeds can be covered just a bit. I like to use what Granny called a “potato hoe”. This is one of my favorite tools. I use the potato hoe to chop into the ground in the bare spots. It’s kind of like painting a floor and not ending up in the corner. You don’t want to walk over the chopped up ground until after the seeds are in.
The next step is to spread the seeds and fertilizer over the chopped up places. I use a starter fertilizer with high phosphorous which should get the roots moving fast as the seeds germinate. After spreading the seed and fertilizer, I cover it up by running a leaf rake over the area. You may think this will rake up the grass seed, but it won’t. The raking will wiggle the seed around and down.
Finally, it is good to tamp the ground and pack it around and over the seed. You can rent or buy fancy equipment for this, or if you are lucky, you will have some size thirteen shoes to work with like I do.
I started carefully walking on the grass and got bored, so I backed the truck up and found just the right music to dance to. I spent a delightful fifteen minutes dancing all over the grass while the cd player cranked out the song by Friends of Distinction:
“GROOVIN’ IN THE GRASS IS A GAS, BABY CAN YOU DIG IT?”
I started dancing and waving my arms and grinning at the coming of spring and the fact that it was a beautiful sunshiny day.
BABY CAN YOU DIG IT?
And off to the vegetable garden. I figured that it would rain in a day or two, so instead of watering in the seed as I usually do, I headed out to the Boys and Girls Club. The early spring veggies needed planting. The kids had cleaned out the left over turnip greens and were able to donate somewhere around 200 pounds of greens to the Community kitchen. I thought that was a neat twist!!
We planted sugar snaps peas, lettuce, spinach, radishes, and beets in the beds.
And this was funny
I had also ordered sets for potatoes—French fingerling and Yukon Gold. The trick is to cut the potatoes up and plant them so that the eye can grow and make plants. Some of the kids were astounded to learn that we would plant potatoes to grow potatoes.
One of the youngsters found a piece of hambone in the dirt—just a little circle like you would get with sliced country ham. I don’t know how it got there, but I couldn’t resist when he asked me what a ham bone was doing in the garden and I told him, “We put that in there so we could grow us a big ol’ hog.”
The boy just shook his head and said, “Man I sure did learn me a bunch of stuff today.”
To read a previous article about the Boys and Girls club garden, go here:
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