Saturday, May 18, 2013

Into the Ground

We’ve been having a leap-frog spring, one in which the temperatures have hopped over the normal highs in the 60s and 70s right to the 80s. That might seem like a good thing for a gardener, but really it’s not, because it just makes me feel like I’m a month behind, when according to the calendar, I’m really  a little ahead of schedule.  Normally, I gauge my planting of tender annuals and heat-lovers like tomatoes and peppers by a last-frost date around Mothers’ Day.  This year, Mothers’ Day is on the early side, but our highs from two weeks ago (60s) are suddenly our lows.  Cool season plants, like Swiss chard and snow peas, are fainting like Victorian ladies at a Chippendales’ show.   My tomato and pepper seedlings are not ready for this kind of intensity; they look like beach bunnies who forgot their sunscreen. 

Homeless seedlings
I’m trying to get my seedlings into the ground, but starts need a week of gradual acclimatization in the real outdoor sun, adding an hour or two per day.  That’s why some of these are looking a little beat up.  A week of travel to California left them neglected, and I lost a few.  The real challenge is that I started cucumbers and squash at the same time and neglected to mark them carefully.  I’m assuming that the cucumbers were the most sensitive and succumbed, but I can’t tell, at this time, which ones survived.  I bought more cucumbers, so come harvest time, I may be surprised to have more cucumbers that I planned on.  

I added potatoes to my garden this year, but no sprouts are showing yet.  This is making me very nervous, but I’m resisting the temptation to excavate to see what’s happening.  

Potatoes should appear here^

While cleaning out the raised bed, I found a couple of over-wintered onions and, gift from some passing bird, a volunteer strawberry. 

The way that nature perpetuates itself always makes me smile. We have a clump of strawberries right below the spot under the eaves where birds nest every year.  The only explanation I can think of is that the birds were eating the strawberries that were planted on the other side of the yard and “deposited” the seeds below their nest.