Spring Has Sprung

THIS is what I wait for, what announces Spring, this. These bright yellow jonquils say Spring to me more than anything else. Combined with a few rains, the first croak of tree frogs and a hint of green in the fields jonquils scream Spring. The last many years we have had Jonquil bloom before the end of February, and that is often joined by horrid leftover winter winds which drive the pretty flowers right to the ground and shorten their showy spell. Every year is different.

The past year has seen less rain, some fierce wind for sure – but prolonged cold temperatures have kept them from blooming too early and they are now languishing in their finery. I also discovered upon picking these that about 20% of the Jonquils came up at least a week later and are just now developing flower heads. That too will prolong the Jonquil bloom.

Now we wait for the flox, iris, narcissus and our most beloved dogwoods.

On to the vegetable garden!

It’s been a bleak winter since December passed and all the cabbages and broccoli were harvested. Very little overwintered due to extreme temps – weirdly warm and very cold, often just days apart. Neither warm nor cold lasting long but long enough to send things to bolt.

Most of the herbs are jumping out of hibernation with the lengthening days. Chives have self seeded in several places which is okay by me as there never seems to be enough.

Surprisingly the French tarragon survived this Ozark winter. Its close proximity to the house offered the protection it needed.

A new favorite to me, sage, is coming back nicely. I wasn’t sure if I wanted sage in the garden but ran across a recipe for fried sage leaves and thought what the heck let’s try it. Oh my gosh.. fresh sage is so delicious. I find myself crumbling a few leaves in all things chicken and turkey. I will dry much more of this savory summer treat for winter use.

I should have thought to photograph the celery before cutting it back for today’s potato salad. It needs plenty of water, some nitrogen fertilizer and protection from bunnies. I grew these (and four more) from organic celery butts. Yes you heard me right. Cut off about two inches of the bottom end of a fresh head of organic celery and place it in an inch of water. New leafy growth should appear within a day. Once it is well established and the weather is warm enough, set it into rich garden soil and keep it watered. This is the first year I’ve done this and it’s working out so far. The celery has made enough shoots to grace potato salad a couple of times lately.

These pots of dill and fennel are a little pathetic looking I know! But they will perk up and do just fine once they get in the ground. So much to plant!

So the cool weather plants are almost all in the garden. That includes broccoli, kohlrabi, collards, kale, cabbage, green onions (grown from seed), onion butts, bulbing onions (hundreds), radish, lettuce, choy, carrots, snow and English peas, and cilantro.

The potatoes will go in in a few days along with more carrots, radish and beets. Then we start thinking about summer veg. But not today, not much.

Except maybe this look at the first tomato and pepper seeds. Don’t read the labels! Some of them are only correct on the other side! I’ve started Black Krim, green Zebra, Atomic grape and will get San Marzano tomato plants from Joey. We have also started four kinds of peppers  –  Canary, Ozark Giant and Etiuda bells, and Estacena chili pepper.  We will buy Jalapeno M for its robust size. I don’t know why we didn’t save seed last year!

You can see I have broken with tradition and am trying some new varieties this year. For all my wanderlust and my Piscean nature I have been stuck in a rut with seed varieties for years and it’s a little scary wandering off into uncharted (for me anyway) seed company.

This is how bare most of the garden looks right now today. In the middle are overwintered leeks. On the far end is broccoli planted earlier today. On this end, Tokyo Longs,  which is a really fine green onion.

We will put hotcaps on the broccoli since it looks like a few chilly nights coming up. Then all the Brassica will be draped with lightweight row cover to protect them from cabbage moths. On the right is garlic also from last fall. A surprising number of garlic plants were lost this winter and I filled in with some kale plants.

Last but not least is this Russian Purple tomato plant that we got at the seed swap in West Plains a couple of weeks ago. It has tripled in size under the new plastic clochs during the day and in the kitchen at night. Gene got six of these clochs for my birthday and I love them! Made in the USA and sold by the man who invented them himself direct from his factory they are vented on top and have holes around the bottom so you can secure it to the ground. The literature says they will raise the temperature by 30-40 degree on a sunny day with the vent open. I’m growing carrots under two of them… but I did fry a batch because it got too hot. Yikes. They work. Greenhouse Buckets

See that pot in the back on the left? Thai pepper pant we overwintered in the house. I cut it down to about 4 – 6 inches and no leaves at all. It re-leafed, flowered and has several full size peppers on it now. It goes outside on warm days.

That’s all I got peeps. The potatoes are ready to plant Monday. Chiting, cut up, and dusted with bone meal we just need to turn the rotting wood chips back and lay them in on the soil beneath and cover them up. I need a nap.

What’s going on in your garden?

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