Last weekend’s big melt certainly put me in a spring mood. Too bad there are still so many skating rinks in the driveways and shady sections of the dirt roads. Everything else has turned to some pretty serious mud ruts. Marie and I had to navigate a huge mud lake to get out of our vegetable garden. We had a real Thelma-and-Louise moment. We can’t stay out of the garden regardless of weather conditions. We have had no success in ridding the hoop house of the critter responsible for thrashing out lettuce and kale. Last week I mentioned our purchase of a game cam. We are hoping to identify the rascal. So far we have several shots of my hand waving to test the product.
Not being one ever to give up, I replanted. We are using fish totes (thanks to Edgartown Seafood, the best and friendliest market ever). We filled them with good soil this fall, topped off with a layer of metre-mix. One must be careful when planting in containers to use an airy mixture of potting soil on the top to prevent “damping-off.” It is a fungus that grows at the soil level. It causes the tiny emerging seedlings to die at once. In October we transplanted several lettuce plants and kale seedlings. We were able to pick up until Christmas; then everything froze pretty solid. Now with the advancing light, they are growing again — just perfect for our resident pest to nip in the bud so to speak. I went ahead and sprinkled beet, carrot and more lettuce seed alongside the damaged plants. I have faith we will get rid of him before the next crop comes up.
In the flower department I have quite a few things seeded and coming along on propagation mats. Sage, thyme and lavender are ready to go out into some cold frames. That is, of course, after I bully my son, Jeremiah, to secure some end walls for me. Now that it is in ink, I’m sure someone will prod him further. Oh! The power of the pen!
Now that the snow has melted (for a minute) I have been attending some unfinished fall cleanup. What a train wreck in the perennial bed. Time is of the essence now. I hate when the bulbs start poking through piles of debris from last summer. I’m ashamed to admit I left some ornamental grasses uncut. Ornamental has become a misnomer. They have been flattened by snow and ice and are cemented to the ground. They are too big to attack with the lawn mower. One or two sunny days in February put me “behind” in my mind. I have several fruit trees in need of pruning, not to mention grapes and raspberries. Take my advice — I’m not using it. Get out there with your pruning knife and have at it. At least get the dead wood and branches that are rubbing.
Honestly, who comes up with names of seed varieties? Territorial Seed Company out of Cottage Grove, Ore., has a butterhead lettuce with mint green leaves tinged in mahogany red. It is called, I’m not kidding, Drunken Woman Frizzy Headed.
At our last Homegrown meeting Billy and Betty Haynes sang the praises of Malabar spinach. They tried it for the first time last season. Because it is heat-tolerant it is a great spinach for the heat of summer. It grows up a trellis more than 10 feet. The Hayneses missed their calling in the advertising world. They talked me into ordering some.
If you are ordering your spring greens seed now give mâche a try, aka corn salad, lamb’s lettuce or vit. It is a wonderful substantial green which will withstand freezing temperatures. I prefer it to arugala which I think is sometimes too bitter unless drenched in olive oil with crumbed goat cheese.
Another extremely cold-tolerant green is miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata). It can be grown year-round under a single layer of plastic.
I’m sorry to have missed President Obama on the Bill O’Reilly show. What a good sport. I cannot imagine former President Bush in a heated interview with Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz. Would have paid good money to be in that audience.