A furry of activity has been cut short by another spell of cold weather. Thankfully, we have not experienced a late frost, so around town, Serviceberry, numerous Magnolias, Redbuds and the infamous Bradford Pear (useless, exotic invasive species), are all in bloom. I love spring (summer and fall) in Pennsylvania! The succession of blooms starts early in February when our Hellebores and Crocus start pocking out of the snow, and continues right to fall.
I went back to last year’s blog about my spring chores and realized how late I am in starting my tomatoes this year. There is always the option of buying transplants from reputable greenhouses. It saves a lot of the work and space indoors and in the end, you only want one or two of each variety anyway. I do have several varieties of lettuce and many more of assorted greens coming up in my raised beds in the vegetable garden. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and kiwi are trimmed and got a nice dose of compost last fall, and the cleanup in the flower beds is slowly under way. Most important of all, remember to enjoy it all. Take some time to take it all in and marvel at the resilience of nature, the gift it bestows upon us each season and to remember to share out habitat (no matter how big or small) with the wild life around us!
Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s Party!’ Robin Williams
More on spring chores
More reading on pruning
Temperatures have been fluctuating wildly in western Pennsylvania. Last year was my first real experience on the vegetable garden. Builded the raised beds in the fall the year before (2011) and added a fence all around the garden last spring just in time for planting. Here is a sampling of the most successful crops:
The potato “Purple Majesty” produced about the amount in the picture x three. Not a huge yield but they were delicious so I saved some ‘seed’ potatoes and they are happily growing this year too. Zucchini was so bountiful it was ridiculous, way too many, everyday. It got so, that I had to drop and run at neighbors front doors! This year, only two plants. I learned that they require a large amount of real state better utilized for my leaf crops which were my everyday go to crop: Spinach, kale, chard and assorted lettuce.
Tomatoes were fantastic except I planted way too many also. They became a jungle of tangled vines. I lost many tomatoes simply because I could not physically rescue them from the impenetrable mess! I was grateful that they did not succumb to the many threats you are always reading about and I still had several baskets full everyday. I am still enjoying them in sauce, sofrito ( a spanish mixture of onions, garlic, and tomatoes fried and reduced in olive oil with safron and cumin). I also froze whole tomatoes in freezer bags that were better than canned and easy to add to soups and stews. I just finished those! At the end of the season, I harvested the Yellow Pear green tomatoes that were left in the vine and pickled them with herbs in large jars that went right in the refrigerator and lasted for months.
Of course, if you grow tomatoes, you better start a whole lot of Basil, I grew many different kinds last year. Genovese, Lettuce leaf, Thai, and Lime basil. Can’t ever have too much. As soon as it starts blooming, the pesto making starts and you can have pesto right through the winter. If you are into salsas, then you will want peppers as well. Mine did not do well at all, in fact, I grew a great plant that never bloomed and did not produced a single fruit so out with them and I gave up but I am trying again this year. We shall see.
So start those seeds, not too late for basil, parsley, beans, squash, zucchini and most beans. Carrots, beets radish and many other root crops can be put in now as well or put in some seedlings and watch them grow and produce. Nothing gives more satisfaction that eating your own produce and being able to share it with your friends. Let me know how it goes and what you learn as I am a newbie when it comes to food crops!
Shall I not have intelligence with the earth?
Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself.
– Henry David Thoreau