Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What's Happening in my Garden in Early Spring?

There Are Lots of Garden Tasks to Be Done

We've had a lot of rain in the past two months, and the garden reflects that. The weeds are trying to take over, but I've been too busy going to and recovering from dentist appointments to do much about them. The grassy weeds are the worst.  Fortunately, my lamb's ears, which grow as fast as weeds, are helping to keep some of them at bay. Meanwhile, the bees are really enjoying the flowers that are appearing everywhere and the kale is bolting.

What's Happening in my Garden in March
Grassy Weeds Trying to Take Over the Garden, Lamb's Ears Trying to Compete

Weeding and Thinning

In the photo above you can see some of the garden tasks I'm way behind on. Weeding is probably the most important. If I don't get the weeds out of the way, the reseeding plants may not get the light they need to sprout. Some of the lamb's ears, much as I love them, will also have to go. As you can see below, they are choking the emerging Sweet William seedlings from last year's seeds. I'll also have to cut back the star jasmine that surrounds and is starting to cover these plants. Looks like I will also have to reapply my non-toxic snail bait in this section. I usually use the cheapest brand, and it works.

What's Happening in my Garden in Early Spring?
Lamb's Ears Smothering Sweet William Seedling, while both Fight the Star Jasmine, © B. Radisavljevic 

With all this weeding to be done, it's time to check my gardening tools again. If you find yourself short, this Vremi 9-piece tool set has all one needs to tackle most weeding jobs.

Bees in the Holly
The holly is in bloom, and the bees love it. I took this photo a few days ago. I'm glad I did because the gardener trimmed some of the flowers off today. He said the bees were pretty angry with him as he worked and he had to be careful. I think there are still enough flowers to keep the bees busy. 

What's Happening in my Garden in Early Spring?
Bees Foraging in Holly Flowers in March, © B. Radisavljevic

The Bolting Kale

I currently have four kale plants growing in my flower beds. Three of them are volunteers that did not exactly grow where I would have placed them. All of them are bolting now. I will probably cut the flowering stems from the weakest plants, and let the others go to seed for next year's crop. I will also have to harvest and freeze a lot of the leaves that are left.

 My top photo showed my best kale plant. I understand now why it may not have had the aphid problems the other plants had. Its close neighbors are calendula and catmint, both of which help repel or trap these pests that bother my other plants. Also, that kale in my front flowerbed gets more regular water than the other plants, and better soil. It is the only kale plant with drip irrigation. 

The kale plant below gets less care than any of the others. It sprang up between my driveway and my neighbor's yard in the bed in the middle. There is a birch tree there and gazanias cover most of the ground. It is not irrigated unless I remember to pour some water on the kale plant. How it ever took root there I'll never know, but I have used many of its leaves. You can see from its flowers that it's bolting. So are the other plants, but the flowers are harder to see in their photos. 

What's Happening in my Garden in Early Spring?
Flowers of Bolting Kale, © B. Radisavljevic

This is actually a pair of kale plants below. I never thinned them. I sometimes use their leaves, but they are often plagued with aphids. They have poor soil and no companion plants but gazanias. They do not have regular irrigation. They grow in the corner of a bed of gazania and star jasmine beside the driveway. Like the plant above, they came from the mother plant you see at the top of this blog post. 

What's Happening in my Garden in Early Spring?
Twin Kale Plants by Driveway, © B. Radisavljevic

My Favorite Companion Planting Book

 I have used this book for years. It has provided inspiration on what to plant where and been just fun to read. There are lists of which plants discourage which pests, which plants attract which beneficial insects, and which plants help each other thrive. I love the garden design ideas, such as the wheel garden and the front yard salad garden. The information is organized in a user-friendly way so that it's easy to find what you want, and you will want to read more than what you came for. I highly recommend this to any gardener who wants to avoid chemicals.

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