I did a lot of gardening this past week for self protection. I seemed unable to resist the temptation of television or radio news following the events of the Boston Marathon bombings. Keep in mind, this column is always a week delayed.
Emotionally and spiritually there is no place like outdoors with no technology or media crowding the brain.
On Sunday morning I was complaining to Violet about my need to write this column before Tuesday morning pick-up. She jotted the following to help me.
“It’s Sunday and I’m hoping that I can go to my garden after church. My garden has been going well. I have lettuce, kale and leeks in one of my small beds. In another I have alpine strawberries edging it, and in the middle of the strawberries I have some carrots. In my circular middle bed I have a bamboo trellis, and my sugar snap peas are about two inches tall. Finally, I have two parsley plants and two thyme plants. This bed isn’t completed yet, and I still have two more beds to do. I love my garden and I actually made a little wood chip moat. In the little moats I put some sticks in them. It just looks so cute.”
Regardless of needing a bit of editing I was so pleased with her content. Her teacher, Amy Reese at the public charter school, has the class working on novels this year.
I picked up my rain barrel at the sale on Saturday. It was such a success that they have decided to extend to another date. These 50-gallon barrels are being promoted by the Lagoon Pond Association to protect our ponds from runoff pollution, conserve our sole source of aquifer, reduce water bills, provide nitrogen-rich rain water to grow healthy plants (in the yard, not our ponds), as a source of non-potable water during power outages, and to control moisture levels around the foundation of our homes. To place an order contact rainbarrelprogram.org/lagoonpond, and questions can be sent to LPArainbarrel@yahoo.com. The new pick-up time is at the Garden Club Annual Plant on May 25.
The Home Section of the April 18 New York Times ran an article entitled “A Mold Devastates Impatiens.” We have seen this for more than a year but it’s for real, folks. Many nurseries have decided to not offer impatiens for sale at all this season. I loved the author’s quote, “Impatiens is an overused plant I love to hate, so I’m shedding crocodile tears. All those red and white, pink and purple flowers planted like petticoats under the trees — as if trees needed skirts. Maybe nature is doing us a favor by forcing those addicted to the plant to find an alternative.”
Annual bedding plants are a two billion (with a b) dollar industry in the United States and the impatiens walleriana is one of the best sellers.
There are many nice options. I am planning to use coleus and wax begonias. Hostas and astilbes look lovely in the shade and will be there year after year. There are hundreds of varieties from which to choose.
Wax begonias bloom all summer, sun or shade, are more drought-tolerant than impatiens and can be wintered over in a cool back room to be used next year.
One could try torenia aka wishbone flower. It comes in many colors including blue and thrives in partial shade. Regardless, we must soldier on. There will be no impatiens except the New Guinea variety, which I do not find as shade tolerant.
It is chilly this week. There are whiners and complainers everywhere. Let me know if the weather responds to criticism.
Last Sunday the monthly Homegrown group met at the Agricultural Hall. There were at least a dozen or so in attendance. We talked about starting seeds indoors, cold frames, soil tests, the “no till” method, seaweed as mulch and indicator weeds.
We did discuss that seaweed needs to be incorporated into the soil because after a while it forms a stiff mat.
One interesting tidbit for me from friend and colleague, Abigail Higgins was about blanching the newly emerging rhubarb plants. She covers with a large plant pot and gets elongated, light pink and very tender stalks. Who knew? Abigail also gave her yearly pitch for the use of the broadfork. It is a two-handled, large-tined tool for loosening soil. It is very satisfyng to use. She missed her calling in the advertising world.