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Spring Gardening Pleasures

Posted by: Tammy

We’ve endured a very long winter here in New England.  Heavy snows and below normal cold temperatures has worn on even the most seasoned New Englander.  Spring seems more special this year.  There is life after this winter!

Spring daffodils add a bright cheery spot in my yard.

Spring daffodils add a bright cheery spot in my yard.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so impatient for the asparagus as this year!  Perhaps it’s my growing desire to eat more locally, especially from our own garden and avoid buying fruits and vegetables that have sucked down barrels of petroleum products to make their way to my table out of season which has fueled my impatience. The long winter didn’t help.  Now my asparagus is coming up!  I’ve counted at least nine little purplish green spears coming up!

My Jersey Knight asparagus poking up through the soil.

My Jersey Knight asparagus poking up through the soil.

My asparagus patch is the only place I purposely went with a hybrid variety of plant.  Typically with asparagus you harvest only the male spears, allowing the female spears to become the frilly fronds that produce seeds.  When I researched which variety to plant in my garden, many gardeners spoke of choosing your variety based on the size of your asparagus patch.  I don’t have a huge area, maybe 5′ by 8′.  I needed and wanted to maximize my harvest so going with an all-male hybrid made sense.  An all-male variety puts energy into spears, not seeds so the yield is higher.  They are also more resistant to asparagus rust, which I haven’t had to deal with.  They aren’t any more resistant to asparagus beetles so you still have to be diligent with those (hand pick the beetles but there are organic options like neem oil that worked GREAT to wipe out an infestation I had one year-Mother Earth News article on asparagus beetles was good).

The rhubarb is also coming up!  This is my great gram’s rhubarb.  She had it in her home where my dad grew up.  Then she had it in her little garden next to her mobile home park in NH and when she moved to CT to live with us, she brought it with her.  Each time we moved, those plants moved with us.  When I moved into our home twenty-plus years ago, my folks gave me a few plants.  Last year when I bought our cabin in NH, I took a plant up there.  Gram’s rhubarb plants have gone full circle back to NH.  These plants are truly an heirloom variety before heirloom and hybrid were part of the gardener’s vocab.  Oh, I remember sitting at Gram’s house with a stalk of this rhubarb and a little bowl of sugar, dipping the rhubarb in the sugar, taking a bite and redipping.  We each had our little bowl of sugar so double-dipping was totally okay. OH yum!  Okay, the dental hygienist in me is reminding me to tell you that you should floss after you enjoy this childhood memory!  But each spring I look for those little red buds to peak through the soil and for those beautiful leaves to unfurl towards the spring sun.

My beautiful heirloom rhubarb unfurling towards the spring sun.

My beautiful heirloom rhubarb unfurling towards the spring sun.

Finally, I’ll update you on the pallet planter!  I have secondary leaves on everything and the greenhouse and row cover right over the pallet planter have kept the tender greens safe.  By the time the asparagus harvest is done, we’ll be able to enjoy spinach, three types of lettuces and chard greens along with radishes from the greenhouse!  The Sugar Anns are starting to take off, too.  We’ll have sugar snap peas soon enough.

The pallet planter is filling out!

The pallet planter is filling out!

One variety of lettuce really taking off now!

One variety of lettuce really taking off now!

 

 

Spinach showing it's secondary leaves.

Spinach showing it’s secondary leaves.

 

 

Your can already see the red stem on this chard.  This is rainbow chard so I have yellow stems, too.

Your can already see the red stem on this chard. This is rainbow chard so I have yellow stems, too.

So, I’m loving spring and hope you’re enjoying spring in your part of the country, too.

    

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