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Posts Tagged ‘crocus’

First Crocus (and more) of Spring

First crocus of spring 2017

The annual first crocus photo of the year. Crocus blossoms kicked off a week in February with temperatures as high as 70 degrees. Historically, there has been much snow in February.

No, it’s not spring (well… it wasn’t spring when I wrote this. With luck I’ll finish posting it today on the first day of spring). In fact, we never have to wait till spring for the season’s first flowers to appear. However, in central Pennsylvania, it’s very uncommon to have flowers in our gardens mid-winter, and that’s what we had.

On Monday, February 20 – the last day of mid-winter – I captured my first crocus photo of the year. We were into a serious warm spell; the coldest day that week was spring-like, and one day – Friday – was hot enough for shorts and a tee shirt.

Here, just two weeks later (OK… it’s a month later), I’m posting my first crocus of the year photo along with a few other shots from the garden on February 20th. Things were moving along too quickly too early, but a mighty cold snap shut it down in March. Last night (guessing that would have been March 5th) the temperature dropped to nine degrees Fahrenheit and all those perennials thinking they had a head start were very confused.

Photos tell the story of February 20.

Candytuft buds mid-winter 2017

A few feet from the crocus blossoms, a candytuft plant sported bunches of buds emerging at the ends of leafy stems.

Terminal buds on rose bushes mid-winter 2017

Well sheltered from wind, but in a heavily-shaded planting bed, a young rose bush got pruned by a garden-loving varmint. Fresh, pink terminal buds seemed ready to pop on the last day of mid-winter.

Sundrop plants mid-winter 2017

I didn’t know sundrops are “evergreen.” The purple and green variegation attracted me to the plants, so it’s great to see they’ll provide groundcover year-round. From about five plants I set last spring, I counted nine on February 20. It seems likely other new growth hasn’t yet pushed above the surface.

Horseradish mid-winter 2017

While horseradish leaves die back in late autumn or early winter, new sprouts develop through winter. On February 20, young leaves had started to unfurl. This is one of the most indestructible plants in my garden.

Rhubarb mid-winter 2017

Rhubarb is very hardy. In 2015, young sprouts appeared as cold killed back mature stalks and leaves. Those sprouts remained red and firm all winter and were among the first things to grow in 2016. Here’s a young sprout on February 20, 2017. I love how crinkled and tiny the leaf is, belying how smooth and enormous it will be when it grows up in March and April.

Cardoon in a low hoop tunnel mid-winter 2017

Here’s an unexpected success: This is a Cardoon plant in its third year in my garden. Cardoon withstands temperatures in the high 20s, but it isn’t hardy in zone 6. So… in late autumn, I built a knee-high hoop tunnel over the plant. I peeled back the plastic on February 20, and things looked really good. In fact, it seems new leaves grew since I erected the tunnel. When cold returned in early March, I replaced the plastic. Given the weather forecasts, it seems the plastic will need to remain until April.

Edible Honeysuckle mid-winter 2017

Several years ago, Proven Winners gave me two edible honeysuckle plants to try. These are crazy hardy plants; the only shrubs obviously leafing up in mid-winter. Those look like flower buds to me… perhaps this will be the year the plants start producing fruit.

Hellebore buds mid-winter 2017

Nearly matching strides with the crocuses, my hellebores were pushing out plump buds on February 20. By the end of the week, many of the buds had opened, but when cold hit in March, blossoms closed and everything shriveled into a heap. This isn’t a bad thing! As days warm, the shriveled plants draw in moisture and plump up as if nothing had interrupted their growth.

 
Small Kitchen Garden – First Crocus (and more) of Spring

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First Crocus, 2015… and Figs

First crocus of 2015

Perhaps as hardy as the other crocuses in my yard, this one sneaked under my fig tree lean-to and managed to get a head start on spring.

This is an awkward “first crocus of spring” post. The photo dates back to March 9, but the crocus plant it shows cheated.

Overwintering Figs

In late fall of 2014, I had two young fig trees I’d bought at the end of a garden center’s retail season. These had been in containers on my screened porch and I wanted them in the ground before temperatures plummeted… but I didn’t want them to freeze back to the soil if we had another polar vortex like the one in winter 2013-2014.

So, I built a lean-to. I leaned a “trellis” against the wall and draped very heavy plastic over it. Bricks hold everything in place. This lean-to would keep the wind off the fig trees and most likely keep the temperature around the trees at or just below freezing on the coldest winter days.

Temporary lean-to greenhouse

It’s not pretty, but it’s practical: There’s a section of wooden fence under that plastic. I leaned the fence against the wall, draped it with plastic, and held the plastic down with bricks. Though I live in USDA hardiness zone 6b/7a, I expect the two young fig trees inside my lean-to had a zone 9 kind of winter.

On March 9, I peeled back the plastic so the trees wouldn’t overheat on sunny days. The first crocus blossom of the year in my yard was growing strong inside the tent—it had benefited from the shelter while the other crocus plants shivered under snow.

Crocuses have arrived

For days I wrung my hands: Should I reward the cheater? How could I feature such a softie as the FIRST when so many others had faced the elements and were only days behind?

The other crocuses are now in bloom, and the first crocus blossom has faded away… except for in the photo on this page. Sure, it had life easy this past winter, but it gave me a chuckle when I found it blooming away alongside its sleeping fig tree sheltermates. So, there it is; it’s spring!

 

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Yay! It’s Bloom Day!

Crocus blossoms on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

There go the last crocuses of spring. The first appeared on the south side of the house on March 11 while there was still much snow about. These are in my wife’s main flower bed on the west side of the house and they usually hold on until other bulbs get into the act.

It’s Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, and I’m so happy to have a few blooms to show off. Despite the calendar and increasingly longer days, spring started only a week ago… and then it was very wet. Amazingly, while I (along with everyone else around here) felt we’ve experienced the most horrendous and permanent winter in decades, perennials in central Pennsylvania are “on schedule.”

For the past seven or more years, daffodil shoots have appeared by late February. Winter of 2012-2013, in fact, daffodils sprouted **before** winter started! The poor, young shoots stood shivering for months before spring finally turned them loose.

Forsythia on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

What impresses me about the forsythia this year is its obvious reluctance to participate in what little spring we’ve had. We have no sprigs of yellow blossoms. Rather, each “sprig” has, perhaps a blossom with many buds watching, I guess, to decide whether it’s OK to open. Still, it’s very pretty.

This year, there were no sprouts at all until late March. In diminishing cold, daffodil tips appeared and slowly stretched upward for about two weeks. Then warm happened. In just a week, 2-inch sprouts erupted to full-sized daffodils and in about three days they spat out buds to blossom just in time for my Bloom Day photo session.

In past years, April 15 in my yard has seen apple, azalea, forget-me-not, lilac, peach, pear, tulip, hyacinth, and violet blossoms. But in each of those years I’ve joked that I’ll be able to grow pineapples outdoors by 2050 if the warming trend continues.

So, this spring of 2014 is “back to normal.” There aren’t many types of blossoms in my yard, and that’s how it should be in mid April. Please enjoy the photos.

Daffodil on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Very much as if desperate for its moment of “fame,” this daffodil in our front yard blossomed for Bloom Day. Others also blossomed, but in the back yard tucked behind the lilac bushes.

Weed in bloom on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

If it has been warm enough for plants to grow, there are weeds somewhere in the garden or yard putting out blooms. This mint-family member appears every spring in my main vegetable bed and in my herb garden. It’s quite pretty with or without blossoms.

A promise on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Each bud here is smaller than a dime, yet in about a week these will be two large cones of lilac blossoms—or the temperature will plunge dragging us into another plant-stopping cold spell. As I type this there are traffic accidents on highways within 60 miles of me caused by several inches of accumulated new snow. So… maybe it’ll be two weeks before the blossoms emerge. Whenever it does happen, it’s going to be quite a show!

 

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Someone is Eating My Yard

It looks as though either someone big took one bite out of this clump of wild onions or someone small bit off a few dozen onion stalks. Either way, it has me musing about the viability of wild onion as a ground cover. If my lawn had a dense cover of this stuff, mowing—or even just walking on it—would throw up a delicious aroma.

With spring refusing to show itself, my small kitchen garden is nearly barren. Only my herb bed and the rhubarb patches show signs of life—not even weeds have stirred where I hope to plant annuals when? Last week?

My yard, however, has awakened. Tufts of grass are green and growing. Along the margins, wild onions grow in clumps. Crocuses, lambs ears, and forget-me-nots encroach from the ornamental beds into the lawn.

I noticed a few days back that the wild onions and crocuses aren’t entirely happy. Someone seems to enjoy nibbling them. I wonder if it’s the same someone who chews the bark off of apple twigs I prune from my trees? My brother suggests deer, but I’m more suspicious of rabbits and woodchucks.

Is anyone eating your yard?

I wonder if whoever has been eating the wild onions in my yard has also been eating the crocuses. I thought the good stuff of a crocus plant was the pollen—and that from a variety of crocus that flowers in autumn.

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