By Roger Erpelding
The garden season just keeps rolling along. It is already May 9, and I am definitely in the middle of it.
It was time to plant the raised bed and large clay pots on May 7. This was an easy and fun task. I started with the large raised bed. It is about 12 feet by 6 feet, so I brought the Braille yard stick and trowel with me. My first thought was to place 4 eggplants across the middle, which I did. The potting soil was loose, so digging the holes was easy. But I thought there was too much wasted space around the edges, so I ended up making three rows. In the north end I planted 4 hills of cucumbers. These are called Patio Snackers, and are on trial from Ball seeds. On the south side, I planted 3 ground cherry plants which arrived from Seed Savers Exchange on May 6. I started on the south east end, and now I have some space in the south west corner for something else. Beth and I will be touring greenhouses in the upcoming week, and I am looking for some healthy sweet banana pepper plants—a couple for the raised bed, and more for the pots to reside along the edge of the garden. The radishes I planted in this bed are beginning to germinate.
I had placed tomato cages and/or trellises in the large clay pots. Again, the potting soil was new and soft, so planting them was a breeze—simply place the trowel in the middle of the pot, and dig a hole deep enough to put each one in.
Would it rain, or not, on Thursday? It seemed almost a certainty, but I wasn’t so sure. Beth wondered if she should water all of the container plants—hers and mine—or take a chance. I advised her to water, and when I arrived home from work, it still hadn’t rained. So she did the right thing. The hollyhocks just south of the south garden fence were desperate for a drink, and Beth watered them as well. Thanks Beth! It did rain a little later in the evening, and I’m not sure it rained enough to even bother to read the rain gauge.
So, since it did not rain, I put in more garden. I had been saving the south part of the U for green beans, definitely Beth’s favorite. I got 8 short rows in—two of Derby, two of Jade, and 4 of Blue Lake 274 Bush. I have one short row just north of the fence, and I’ll plant flower seeds in it at the first opportunity. There is 3 feet of space between the west end of the east garden and the beginning of the green bean rows. Cucumbers and squash will fit in that space nicely.
It was one tough winter. Many of our perennials and bushes will not be with us this year. Some of the shrubs on the west side of the house are back, but have suffered from winter kill. We will be trimming them soon. The Korean spice bush on the south east corner of the house is alive and well and fragrant, with lots of dead wood. I look for the lilacs to burst forth this weekend, and they fared much better. The butterfly bushes, the hydrangeas on the north side of the garage, and the Anthony Waterer Spirea are very questionable. The yucca is dead, and is gone. Beth purchased a new one, and planted it the other night. Beth knew it was dead by appearance, but its fleshy roots were soft and mushy; the yucca roots should be firm. Beth and I attended a meeting at a friend’s house, and she noted their yucca had suffered the same fate. Huge temperature changes, lack of consistent snow cover, the ground freezing before the snow arrived, and dry snow that failed to provide insulation and moisture are all to blame.