The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Monday, April 13, 2015

When the Going Gets Rainy, It Is Time To Sow More Seed.
Knockout Roses Are Budding Already
Practical Tips

Silver Queen sweet corn is the best.

We have a week of rain ahead. The question is, "Which day will it not rain?" So far, Wednesday looks sunny. I just checked the five day forecast. Wednesday will also feature thunderstorms. One inch has already fallen. We have eight rainy days ahead.

Some readers are going to wonder, "Why not plant corn, with such ideal conditions, soft rain falling with tons of usable nitrogen?"

The ground is still cold, and sweet corn does not like to germinate in those conditions. I had similar concerns with the potatoes planted in straw. They showed no ambition, but they are also heat loving plants. Like their cousin tomatoes (nightshades) they love the sun.

The yard is stunning with deep green grass, luxurious growths of weeds, roses leafing out and budding, the crepe myrtle coming to life, the butterfly bushes leaving dormancy.

When it is raining and threatens to rain even more, I look over the yard and sow small seeds that are known for volunteering.

Dill flowers mean plenty of dill seed to sow and to sprinkle on fresh tomatoes.


Dill is always weak the first year but volunteers well. I scattered dill along the vegetable fence. I hope that cousin Queen Ann's Lace (wild carrot, another umbellifer, like dill) will grow. If not, a patch next to Lowe's will have plenty of seed again this summer.There will be a lot more sun in the back, too, since so many trees were trimmed back. This is a big family, with such plants as parsley, parsnip, and coriander. The umbrella shape of the flower is a give-away for the group.

Hollyhocks are worked over by the bees, too.


Hollyhocks reseed themselves in the second year, so I scattered some in the mulch behind the roses.

Borage


Borage easily produces seed and is a great bee flower (bee bread) so I planted more of those in the back, among the vegetables.



Straw Bale Gardens Are Easy
Straw bale gardening is not difficult. Every garden writer wants to turn composting, mulching, and straw bale gardening into the Manhattan Project.

Straw rots and provides an ideal planting medium, if it is kept moist, like a damp cloth. That probably means a daily soaker hose watering. I see no need to add to the straw, but I may partially dig it in next year because of its tendency to lean and look sloppy. Plant roots will reach down and soil creatures reach up to care for the roots. Most man-made compounds will slow that down and not really help. The key is microbial action around the roots, which God's Creation will form when left alone.

Freeze Worries.
Those who fear their tomatoes getting frostbite can put gallon jugs of water among the tomatoes. The water will slowly warm up in the sunshine and slowly warm the tomatoes most of the night. They will definitely moderate the cold nights. Remember the hot water bottle you slept with as a child to help with the cough or cold? Tomatoes like that too.

Amend the Soil Whenever Possible
The soil likes food and will turn food on top into food below. The difference is that most of the food will be found inside various creatures, from tiny bacterial to the comparably giant earthworms. That food gets broken down and used as creatures devour eat other and die, as they excrete nitrogenous waste loved by the plant roots.

If the plant scraps and food peels are unappealing, lay them down and cover them with attractive mulch. Or bury them in the soil when planting.

Spoiled fruit is either left on the soil for birds or tossed into the compost for moisture.

Newspapers left in the rain make a great start for mulching. They are like soft layers of sponge, easily placed over weeds like crabgrass (boo hiss) to turn them into compost on thee spot (yay!). I keep mulch to put on the newspapers, but I use an entire stack to hold everything in place when I am out of mulch. They will quickly dry out and go airborne, which is startling at first. A rock or a copy of synodical minutes will hold it in place.

Big leafy weeds like goosefoot can be eaten or turned into compost. Most taproot weeds are easily pulled if they are thriving in the wrong spot. If they are food, they are no longer weeds. I spotted my first goosefoot plant already.

Goosefoot looks like the foot of a
Class? Bueller, Bueller, Anyone?
goose.