There’s something so appealing about radishes. Maybe it’s that early reward, seemingly only days after planting those little brown ball seeds, or their cheerful color, or the spicy flavor and crispy crunch they offer. Harvesting radishes always makes me smile, and this year they were days earlier than last year’s May 17th first harvest, which was cause to celebrate. (Although in this pandemic season, I find myself celebrating more of the “small” things than in year’s past, are you?)
Our forecast is not very good. The beautiful, clear skies bring sunny days but that also means cold, cold nights. Tomorrow night it could drop to 29 degrees F, and possibly even snow or sleet. Fortunately, I’ve heeded my father’s warning “A thunderstorm in January means a frost in May!” and not planted any of the plants that could be really harmed. However, the strawberry beds are in full bloom, so they will need protection.
Fortunately, the wire frames intended for bird netting will do a lovely job of holding blankets over the berries without squashing the plants. And I’ve a bit of bubble wrap that is 6′ long and just wide enough to cover my row of emerging “Royal Burgundy” beans. I’ll have to hang sheets on the gooseberry bushes, which are also in bloom. And throw some pots over the emerging potatoes. A freeze won’t kill them, but it will definitely turn the leaves black, slow them down and reduce the harvest.
Since planting isn’t an option with this forecast, I’ve been doing bits here and there. There were clumps of daffodils that were crowded under the widening lilac and the viburnum shrub in the North Island that had finished blooming. They were dug, divided into smaller groupings and replanted with a good handful of bone meal in new locations. You’d think after all these years, I’d be a better judge of how close to plant things to shrubs, knowing how they expand, but it certainly wasn’t the case when the North Island was planted. Somehow the shrubs seem so small at planting time and it’s so easy to plant them too close to one another, and to add lots of bulbs and perennials to keep them company. Too soon, the entire neighborhood is overcrowded!
The thyme plants were looking a bit scraggly, so they got a good trimming. If you look at the photo on the left side the branches have been trimmed back to about 2-3″, where I could see a hint of green buds. The right side was trimmed after the photo shoot. Now the plant will put out new leaves and look refreshed in no time at all. All the trimmings were brought into the kitchen to dry on the stem, spread out on a baking sheet, which doesn’t take long at all since the leaves are so small and thyme’s leaves have little water in their make-up, unlike basil. Once they were dry, I simply rolled groups of them between my hands to release the tiny leaves. Since the thyme jar was already empty, it was a “thymely” harvest. (Sorry, couldn’t resist it!)
There’s also been a bit of tidying and trimming here and there. A few daylilies were dug and divided. In the process, several clusters of native ladybugs were found hidden in the leaves still tucked under. That’s why I do all my clean-up by hand rather than a rake. Whenever ladybugs are found, I just move on and leave them. When the weather warms more, they will move out to begin devouring aphids and other harmful bugs, and by then the daylily foliage will have expanded enough to hide the leaves.
And, I’ve trimmed the front sidewalk edges already. That job usually waits until all the planting is done, but the grass has grown extra fast, the deadheading is caught up, so why not move it up the priority list (not that anyone will be here to notice a tidy walkway!) Next up, hauling compost to the beds that will be getting tomatoes later on. When the weather clear, I’ll certainly be happy that some of these jobs are already finished!
Wherever you are, I hope your weather is settling, spring is well underway, and that you are finding small reasons to celebrate even in these strange times. Be safe, and stay in the garden!