While we haven't been buried under snow multiple times this spring like so many of you in the mid-west and northeastern portions of the US, we have had some swings in temperature the last few weeks. Long stretches of 80* weather---I think a 90* snuck in there one day!---and then plunging back into the high 40s over night and 50s and 60s during the day. I'm sure those temperatures are even envious for some of you but for me it has been annoying to be in shorts and tank tops one day and layering up in fleece the next!
It still seems like spring is off to a slow start. I've been trying to determine if my memory is fuzzy from last year or if this year is just really weird. That said, there are several gardeners in the Houston area who really got a head start back in late winter with their winter sowing and are already reaping the rewards from some early summer crops like beans and tomatoes. While my tomatoes are blooming and one plant is looking to start bearing soon, for the most part I'm still with one foot planted in cool season crops and another foot planted with summer crops. I think by the end of April those cool season crops will be finished and I'll be looking to figure out where to sow all of the rest of my summer edibles.
My apologies for not getting a newsletter out to you in March, the month escaped me. By the time I realized I needed to write up an email I knew I wouldn't get it done in time so here we are, a mid-April newsletter to wrap up the podcast season! If you could take a few minutes and give me some input on this season with a little survey here that would be much appreciated! I did one of these after Season 1 but never got around to one at Season 2 and Season 3 has proven to be my most listened to season so far and I'd really like ideas on what worked, what didn't, and what y'all would like to hear for Season 4!
What's Growing In Mid-April
+Strawberries are coming in well right now but we're in a race to beat the snails to them. So far the snails are winning, which is rather disappointing. I've never seen so many snails in the garden this year---they even ate through the base of a borage that I managed to save in the hard freezes! I ended up making a strawberry jam/syrup with them. Syrup because I thought I had pectin in the cabinet and actually didn't so it didn't quite set up and it was too late to be running to the store for pectin!
+The sugar snap peas are bearing decent handfuls this year but our freezer is still packed full with last year's crops---we grew tons last year---that there wasn't a need for a lot of plants this year. A new pea we are growing is the sugar magnolia pea, a lovely purple podded plant that brightens up the trellis!
+Salad greens did abundantly well this late winter and spring and while some of them are bolting now there are several plants out there still waiting to be eaten.
+I'm trying New Zealand spinach this year for a summer green crop. I tried sowing some directly in the garden and some in pots as well and have had various success with each. There are several plants up in the garden but they are only about a quarter-sized and the ones in pots are doing marginally better. I hope with warmer weather they will begin taking off.
+My sunchokes are about three feet tall and looking lovely! I planted sweetpeas on a trellis next to them and once those are done I'll let the sunchokes run and take over that spot, too. The deer have managed to nose their way through the fence around the edible garden and have nibbled the sunchokes! Bad deer!
The Flower Garden
+My husband finished a new potting bench for us last month. It's larger and deeper and somehow it is already covered in pots! Ok, so about half of those are milkweed cuttings for the monarch butterfly caterpillars but still---you give a gardener space, they will take up that space!
+It's always hit and miss with what will come back after a deep freeze in zone 9. While most plants have bounced back this year I'm still waiting on the Mexican flame vine, a beautiful orange-red flowering vine that in warm winters will stay green year-round. So far I haven't heard a peep out of it returning from its root, which it has done in previous freezes. We'll give it a few more weeks before calling a time of death.
+After a couple of years leaving the false nettle in the flower garden the red admiral caterpillars have finally laid eggs and caterpillars are building leaf nests! This has been the highlight of my spring so far, adding into the count of species utilizing the plants we have for them. The caterpillars are rather elusive, trying to stay tucked into their leaf nests but I have caught a few as they were building new leaf nests and got a good look at them. You can read a bit about that here.
+Deer. Grrrrr. That is all.
Good Garden Reads + Listens
+ A Gardening Book for Those Who Hate Gardening Books via the New Yorker
+ Edible Ground Covers for Vegetable Gardens via Garden Betty
+ Milkweeds in Georgia via Using Georgia Native Plants
+ Homemade Bone Meal: A Crunchy-Feely How-To via Renee Garner
+ Lucky Green Sauce via Suwannee Rose
+ Foraging for Stinging Nettles via Melissa Keyser
+ On Gardening Techniques and the Need to Observe, Think, and Continually Refine via Craig Lehoullier
+ Succession Gardening: Practical Tips for Growing More Food via Joe Gardener Podcast
PODCAST REWIND - MARCH & APRIL 2018
+ Ep. 3-18: Grow Milkweed Plants | Brad Grimm
+ Ep. 3-19: Why You Garden
+ Ep. 3-20: Foraging Texas | Dr. Mark 'Merriwether' Vorderbruggen
+ Ep. 3-21: All About Hoyas | Sara Pham
+ Ep. 3-22: Tropical Aspirations and Edible Gardening in New York State | Sheron McFarlane
+ Ep. 3-23: Season 3 Conclusion and Season 4 Brainstorming
If you or anyone you know who would like to be on Season 4, please drop me an email at thegardenpathpodcast at gmail dot com or hit reply to this email and give me a bit more information and I'll be in touch!
Oh, and lastly, I'm starting a second podcast---yes, I'm insane---if you are interested in backpacking and long distance hiking Orange Blaze: A Florida Trail Podcast will be about the Florida Trail and its hiking community. As a 2011 FT thru-hiker I got tired of the FT not being included in many of the outdoor/hiking podcasts so I jumped in and created the podcast.
Happy Spring and I'll be back next month---hopefully with updates on tomatoes and blackberries! Until then, Happy Gardening!