First harvest

By Roger Erpelding
Contributing Writer

Waking up with snow on the ground two mornings during the previous week is certainly not conducive to gardening. Nevertheless, time does move on, and so does gardening.

There was something new in the sun room. Earlier this month I moved the dwarf nectarine tree from the garage into the sun room, as it was sprouting, and had flower buds ready to burst. During previous years I moved this tree outdoors, but it was too early for that process this year. When watering the sun room plants Saturday morning, I noticed that the flowers were fully in bloom. I got a Q-tip, moistened it, and did my best to hand-pollinate the blossoms. No I didn’t buzz like a bee, but I hope my efforts were just as effective. This small potted tree has never borne fruit in the past; once the danger of frost is over, I’ll move it outdoors.

The only forced bulbs remaining aare the “gudosnik” tulips in the kitchen. During this last week, they rapidly matured0 and graced us with 7 large flowers that resembled wine glasses. Their colors varied, and they are slightly fragrant. They have excellent flower form, but unfortunately, they do not bloom for long. They will be finished in early April.

Long before I met Beth, she was pulling her best geranium plants out in the fall, shaking the soil from their roots, and placing them in paper bags. They were then stored in a dark basement closet until spring. Usually around St. Patrick’s Day Beth brings them up and places them in pots. We’re running a little late this year, but on Sunday, despite the cold and cloudy weather outdoors, Beth thought it was time we get this job done. I carried pots and soil, Beth brought up the geraniums to place in pots, I carried them back to the south table in the sun room. We will water, watch and wait. Sometimes this process works well, and by placement time outdoors in mid-May we have some nice plants. Other years we have had just dead geranium stalks.

Is there anything better than butter and fresh chives with your baked potato? On March 19, the day that Beth and I worked outddoors, I noticed that the chives were up in the herb garden. I even broke off a couple of pieces and tasted them to make sure. In the past nine days, their growth has exploded. I had one large bunch with stems about 6 inches tall. I cut off the whole bunch to within an inch of the ground, sliced them up, and we were ready for a tasty treat. Just a bit later, the potatoes were baked, the butter was out, and we had the bowl of chives on our plates. They definitely passed the test–tasty, fresh, and very flavorful. In another week I will need to cut this bunch again. The good news is that I have two other bunches in the herb bed doing well, and they’re ready anytime I am. What a joy it is to garner that first harvest from the garden. It is only the beginning, and just a small part of what is to come.

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