Currently it's a bit dreary here in Texas, with chilly weather and rain. The weeks have been interspersed with dazzling days in the 70s followed by a few days of this chilly, rainy weather. All of the warmth has triggered spring into action, with native plums and eastern redbuds beginning to burst and color the tree canopies. Daffodils are painting our right-of-way in shades of yellow with tiny violets blossoming below them.
In the edible garden, day length and heat sensitive plants like cilantro, bok choy, and arugula have begun bolting. The tomato seeds I sowed in early January have been upgraded to bigger pots and are awaiting a final weather check at the end of February to see what the 10-day forecast predicts before I set them out into the garden. I'm looking forward to a good tomato season this year since I missed the bulk of our harvest last June when we were on vacation.
One thing I've been glad I got on top of this year was mulching the flower gardens before spring. Last year I was moving mulch well into April. Seed orders were put into Prairie Moon Nursery three times this winter and I hope that I can finally make a dent in the gaps we have in the garden with native plants. It's difficult to find native plants that are exclusive to Texas or endemic to the region so I've been branching out to other ecoregions for help. Texas is such a large state covering a diverse array of habitats that many of the native seeds on the market for the state are mostly adapted to drier regions such as the Texas Hill Country. While a few can be found here in east Texas, I've found that looking to natives that are in the southeastern US in similar habitat styles is what I'm having to do to fill that native plant niche. And I can't be too picky since our garden is not a strictly native garden as it is, going outside of our ecoregion to find native plants doesn't bother me.
As for wildlife sightings, I've had several pipevine swallowtails eclose after months in pupa. I'm still awaiting on a couple more to eclose. I also spotted a monarch last week nectaring on our cherry laurel tree, the same tree I heard a chorus of humming coming from as I replaced the recycling bin to our carport one afternoon at lunch. The chorus was a plethora of foraging honeybees, likely from our hive across the yard, and seeing the monarch joining in just made the moment even better. I don't believe the monarch was a migratory individual as the Texas coast was mild this winter, and in general we can have resident monarchs here. This one must have been bouncing around looking to feast on newly flowering spring plants!
I'm in a bit of a transition with the podcast at the moment with no one in particular lined up for the show but am aiming to get a few people on the schedule in the coming weeks. This year I'm hoping to continue the podcast through the end of May, possibly into June before I go in hiatus for the year. If you do enjoy the podcast, please share the newsletter and podcast with your fellow garden enthusiasts!
Garden Reads & Listens:
A blog post I wrote recently that I'd like to share:
+Early Spring in the Garden | February 2019
+Cowpen Daisy: how to grow Verbesina enceliodes from seed via Texas Butterfly Ranch
+Thinning Seedlings: Methods, Tips, & Microgreens via Homestead & Chill
+Edible and Medicinal Botanicals of the Florida Trail via The Botanical Hiker
+Monarch butterfly population up in Mexico, down in California via Texas Butterfly Ranch
+Removing Invasive Plants Makes a Difference via Using Georgia Native Plants
+A Tale of Shale: Virginia's New Violet via Virginia Native Plant Society --this post is a few years old but it was very interesting!
+Foraging with Erica Wohldmann via Gardenerd Podcast