Tuesday, March 8, 2011

11 days til spring!

The Hellebores (pictured) are looking better everyday. Peonies are starting to come up out of the ground; their little red spikes look other-worldly. I’ve also noticed the Star Magnolias (Magnolia stellata, pictured) blooming around town. There is nothing quite like a deciduous magnolia’s bloom, and if I had room in my garden, I’d plant one!

Last weekend I cut back all of my Catmint (Nepeta) to reveal new leaves at the base of the plants. It has rained a lot here lately and the damp ground made weeding out maple seedlings that were overwintering in my planting beds much easier.

More daffodils (Narcissus) are popping up, including King Alfred, which is another good trumpet variety. Daffodils make fantastic cut flowers; cut three stems for a simple (and fragrant!) arrangement.

Another garden task to be done this time of year: soil testing. Soil tests are fairly cheap (about $7 in Davidson County), can be performed at your local county extension office. I recommend testing every two years, or every year if you’re trying to correct a serious problem like pH.

Also, I planted an onion that had sprouted in my kitchen; not sure how that will fare outdoors, but I plan on eating the sprouts in a future salad. Now is a good time to plan the veggie garden and purchase seeds.

I bought lettuce, Swiss chard, and carrots to try from seed this year. All of these should be planted 3-4 weeks before the last average frost date. So I’ve marked March 20th (first day of spring!) on my calendar to kick off my vegetable garden. To find your last frost date, check here.

According to the Environmental Working Group, carrots and lettuce are a few veggies that contain high concentrations of pesticides. This isn’t surprising since these plants all have ‘thin skins.’ Because of this (and so many other reasons), I’ll be eating as much as I can from my own garden, and relying more on my CSA this year.

To find a participating farm near you, visit localharvest.org. In Nashville, I recommend Fresh Harvest.

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