As I work about in the garden, I notice little things that we should address. There are weeds! Noooo! Gross as they are, now is the time to start with one of the The Three “P’s” in organic gardening – Prevention. Bear in mind that weeds are prolific seed-scatterers! Like the little Oxalis. You know, the ones with the four-leafed-clover-like leaves and yellow flowers. Each of those little seed pods has hundreds of seeds waiting to expolde into your pristine beds! Don’t let it happen! Pull them, roots and all, and toss them right into the compost. Likewise, all the little grasses, Pine tree seedlings, etc. The effort expended now will save you greater expenditures of energy when it is 95 degrees and high humidity! Once the area is mostly cleared, it is highly advisable to put some sort of mulch down in the open areas around the vegetables, fruit and herbs. Leaves, bark, even a thin layer of grass clippings – weed-seed free, of course – are all great to lay atop the soil to preserve moisture, keep the seedling weeds at bay, and to eventually break down into additonal soil.
Strawberries are coming into their peak, and we should be diligent about harvesting every day, so as not to waste the abundance of Nature, and as a way to prevent adding to the slug and snail population! They often find our little red joys before we do, or they get to them while they are green. Little, mucous-y pigs! It helps to get to the fruit before they do, and if they have already feasted, remove the chewed berry and toss it into the compost! Removal keeps the scent from wafting around to the others in the area and drawing them to the beds. It is also helpful to put out your finished citrus halves, left upside down. The slimy little creepers head under them as a hut from the sun and in the morning you can go get the rinds and…recycle them. Stomp, scrape, whatever, but dispose of them any way that seems therapeutic to you! You can also try ringing the berry plants with clean, crunched-up eggshells as a protective deterrent. It doesn’t stop them all, but it helps.
Keep pinching Tomato suckers. Pick off worms and caterpillars from the Dill, the Tomatoes, the Parseley, et al. If you notice little white flying things coming from your Basil or other larger -leafed plants, get yourself a spray bottle of Insecticidal Soap and spritz the undersides of the leaves. In 14 days, hit them again and you will kill the hatchlings and gain a modicum of control over them for the time being.
Remember, it is a great idea to find open spots in the Garden to seed a few Radishes, Arugula and other quick crops. Radishes are ready in about 21 days, plenty of time to get them up and out before the larger veggies take over. Radishes can be seeded all through the season, every week or two. Just do not get too exhuberant! Only put out what you think you will eat in a week or two!
Vining Vegetables and Fruit can be managed by pinching. I know it is a hard concept, and a harder thing to make yourself do, but it has a truly practical outcome: larger, more consistent fruit. Fewer but better is the idea here. So, once a cucumber has set three to four small fruits, pinch the vine off after the last one, about an inch past the fruit. Likewise, this is the method for Winter Squash, Grapes and Melons. Not so for Peas or String Beans! They need their vines to continue producing.
Planning, Prevention and Perseverance are the Virtues we need to be good Stewards of the Garden, and bring a slice of Heaven to Earth.
Contact me directly if you think I might be of service to you in your Heaven!
Well, one does not have to be prescient to have predicted that the warmer weather was soon to be here, but it showed up on the heels of my last post! Highs in the nineties, and windy! Oh well, we had great run, didn’t we? I hope you did get out there and enjoy the expanded version of Spring here in North Carolina. I sure did! As a Gardener it is my privilege to have my main office outdoors, where I daily see, feel and smell the wonders of nature, and, as noted previously, I have been really enjoying all the fine weather, gorgeous flowers and sweet secents wafting through each day. Now it is time to say goodbye to the softer Season, and get ready for the warm Season. We need to be more disciplined and mindful of watering, get our mulches down, pick bouquets before the rainstorms knock off the petals, and pluck as many berries as we can before we lose them to ants, slugs and bunnies! Cages or other structures need to be set up around our tomatoes. Climbing veggies need tying up as they stretch and grow. As the weather warms, we also need to be aware of the new crops of little bugs that set up shop and proceed to diminish the beauty of our young Gardens: Spider mites, slugs and snails, caterpillars. Let’s use the least toxic methods first – Insecticidal soaps for the Spider mites (remember to spray the undersides of the leaves, where they live), small saucers of cheap beer for the slimy ones, or half-grapefruit rinds left out for them to gather beneath, that you casually dump into the compost. The furry predators of our Pumpkin patch can be kept at bay with dog hair, stinky sprays or, my new favorite, Plantskyyd natural repellent! It is made of natural porducts, does not have a lingering scent, and only needs to be applied four times a year!
Water your Garden deeply, my friends. Eat well of that which you grow, and sleep peacefully knowing that you are bringing a small piece of Heaven to earth!