Life is a garden: the old wives’ tale prevails again


Mimi and I looked at the calendar and saw that Good Friday was upon us. We had decided earlier this spring that we were going to follow the old wives’ tale of not planting our tender plants until Easter. It doesn’t make sense to me that the potential cold snap before Easter happens every year, no matter when Easter falls on the calendar. What I do know is that it’s the safest thing to do. I’ve had to replant my vegetable garden and some tender flowers too many times to even risk it for a few weeks of growth. I don’t like the tanning effect a 30 degree night will have on young plants. I also think it retards some of the growth of the plant.

We realized that the time to plant is almost here. Last weekend we prepared the soil in our raised beds. I pulled the weeds out, covered them with mushroom compost and other organic matter and mulched them with pine bark. Mulch saves us from having to water as often. I like that my plant soil dries really well between waterings. This seems to keep fungus and burns to a minimum. I believe running them on the dry side enhances the flavors of the products.

I think of where the good vegetables that our local farmers have produced come from. They usually come from dry, arid, well-drained soils like Texas and Mexico, so I try to emulate that as best I can. Raised beds make it easier to get even during a rainy spring, the beds allow moisture to drain faster than the ground can.

We only plant what we like to eat and give to our friends. We have lettuce, asparagus, non-tender herbs like parsley, thyme, cilantro, rosemary, oregano and chives planted now. We will wait for the basilisks because they really don’t like cool nights. After Easter we will plant tomatoes, okra, peppers, carrots, beans and crookneck squash. My blueberry bushes are loaded with flowers, so it looks like we’ll have enough blueberries this year to turn our teeth blue. My figs are showing signs of life. We don’t have enough figs. We cleaned up the fine gravel walkways between the flower beds so that we don’t have any grasses or weed seeds jumping around in our boxes full of nutrient soil.

Once the garden was finished, we moved on to our large flowerbeds. We dug up some junipers that had outgrown their breeches and transplanted them to one side of our yard where we shoot for privacy. It’s a bit risky to move them this late being as big as they are. We figured we had nothing to lose and maybe a wall of 12 year old junipers to gain if it worked. We watered them with a root stimulator and will follow with a second watering with the hormone that makes roots grow three times faster. We will have to pamper them throughout this first summer, but it will be worth it. I’ve had a river of gold running through part of my yard made up of sun ligustrum for 12 years. They looked gorgeous but took over the view so we decided to scale them down to let them look younger.

I hadn’t realized how many knockout roses they were hiding and now we have a new view of the beds we bunk behind this bed. The bed that was blocked is full of peach drift roses and white camellias and a few other plants that are ready to be part of the show. I pruned all my roses around the yard in February so they are about to put on a great show.

I cut dead wood from my Cuban Golden Duranta that survived its second winter. They are very tender perennials, so we cover them when we get prolonged temperatures below 32 or ice. Our snowball viburnum is covered in flowers and buds, but they’ve gotten bigger than I wanted and they’re starting to look a bit long, so I’m planning on pruning them pretty hard when they’re done blooming. . They are starting to hide my oakleaf hydrangeas which are blooming now. My parsley hawthorns are in full bloom now. I think they are blooming more abundantly this year than I have ever seen them bloom. They are right next to my chestnut trees which are now budding. We try to keep something blooming in our “native” plant bed most of the time. Grancy Graybeard will be next. It’s always a spectacular sight.

Our limelight hydrangea shapes stand out nicely. I can’t even imagine how they will hold up this year when they start flowering since they could barely stand it last year. Now that we’ve pruned them after last year’s flowering ended, we should have twice as many flowers this year. We have them staked and ready for their new weight. I went ahead and worked in quite a bit of cottonseed meal in their root zone and did the same for my Japanese yews which surged last year. Our dream of a yard surrounded by 12 foot yews is coming true sooner than expected. They are very fast growers, so we wanted to support them with a slow release fertilizer so that it is available as and when they need it.

Mimi planted a few pots around the house. I really love the salmon colored geraniums she spotted all over the yard, very eye catching. We weeded the circles around our trees and I dropped some cottonseed meal so we can now move on and mulch them with pine bark mulch.

This working weekend has us feeling back on top and ready for next week when we can plant. This weekend of work also made us feel muscles that we had forgotten. It seems like we have to go through this every year. Then it starts to feel better as our back gets used to the new movements. It becomes so fun and exciting that the pain seems to disappear or at least be forgotten.

I hope your start to spring goes as painless as possible and I hope you’re ready for spring since it’s officially here after Sunday, according to the Old Wives’ Tale.


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