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Finally time to sow early spring vegetables!  After a few unsatisfactory growing seasons, I’m planning some major changes this year for the vegetable garden.  First, I’m turning the right section into a perennial asparagus bed.  This part of the garden gets the most sun, so I think the asparagus will do well.  Plus, the plants themselves are so beautiful, I’ll enjoy them during the TWO YEARS that I’ll need to wait for the root systems to mature.  Just yesterday, I received word from White Flower Farm that my order of Jersey Knight asparagus crowns is on its way to me.  I’ll be able to get them planted before my UK trip.

Seeds for my spring vegetable garden

Beyond the asparagus, I’m focusing on early season vegetables – peas, bush beans, carrots.  I’m headed out to plant these today.  I’m also sowing leafy greens – Swiss chard and lettuces – as well as their floral companions, marigolds and nasturtiums.  So far I haven’t had a chance to order any other leafy greens, but I do want to try mache again and a few different lettuce varieties.  My sister-in-law also asked for kale.  Later on in the summer I’ll add the cucumbers and squash.  The other traditional summer vegetables – tomatoes, peppers – are going in a grow box on the front lawn where they will get more sun and hopefully produce better yields.

Fingers crossed for a beautiful and bountiful harvest!

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Ann Lovejoy's Organic Garden Design SchoolAnn Lovejoy’s Organic Garden Design School by Ann Lovejoy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ann Lovejoy’s Organic Garden Design School has helped me form a design to restore the woodland gardens that were stripped earlier this year by overzealous tree trimmers. Her ‘Golden Bowl’ analogy enabled me to understand the concept of tree canopy, high understory, low understory and perennials. Previously, I had been focusing just upon low understory shrubs and perennials; now I understand that adding some medium sized trees will help create a more gentle transition from woodland to garden border. Her ‘rule of thirds’ (one third evergreens, one third structural shrubs and one third perennials) also provides a useful guideline for garden design. I will start applying these ideas right away – both to plan out my plant purchases and to site them appropriately.

The only criticism I would have of the book is that some of her recommended plants are considered invasive in this area. Fortunately, I’ve got a good list of native alternatives from my studies at Longwood Gardens. Overall, Ann Lovejoy’s Organic Garden Design is a tremendously useful guidebook. I borrowed it from the local library – and now I’m going to buy my own copy!

 

Trampled Underfoot!

About two months ago, I made the mistake of allowing a tree service company do some work in my Woodland Border. The workmen were supposed to trim low-lying branches, remove a few dead trees and clear away rotted logs. I think they were really just looking for firewood to sell, because they were overzealous in their trimming. None of the live trees were really harmed, thank goodness, even though the workmen trimmed more than I wanted. The real problem is that they dragged all the cut logs through the planted border and across my yard. As a result, my once-beautiful woodland border is now completely TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT!

My woodland gardens, now trampled underfoot!

What a mess! Now there’s major cleanup and repair work to do. I’ll look on the bright side here however. In my day job as a marketing professional, I use the term ‘compelling event’ to describe an issue that prompts a client to move forward at any given point. Here, I’m using the cleanup as my ‘compelling event,’ to achieve two outcomes:

–Increase the scale and impact of the woodland border, with major additions of native shrubs and plants
–Create an even more beautiful setting for my Summer Garden Party in early June

With these goals in mind, I’m heading to Rare Find Nursery on Saturday to pick up a large order of native shrubs. Here goes the next project!

Spring Containers 2012

Last Saturday’s road trip to Delaware, with an impromptu stop at Willey’s Farm (http://www.willeyfarmsde.com/), a wonderful local nursery and produce market, yielded the materials for some lovely Spring containers.

Pansies, herbs and salad greens for Spring containers

Inspired by photographs in magazines and online, I’ve been wanting to make Spring containers combining flowers, herbs and salad greens.   Here,  I used some of my favorite herbs (Rosemary, Spearmint), added some trailers for visual interest (Thyme), and tried out some new plants as well (Arugula, Anise Hyssop).  I made a few for my front step, and a few to give as gifts.

A few containers on the front porch

I also rejeuvenated the Winter containers from my class at Longwood Gardens, (see prior post) by removing the cut greens and adding herbs and flowers.  With the bulbs in full bloom, my Winter containers are now also beautiful Spring containers.  Take a look at the results!

Winter container, redone for Spring

For anyone interested in native plants, Delaware’s Mount Cuba Center is a fabulous resource.  I’ve been wanting to take courses there, but distance and schedules have just not allowed it.  So I was happy to learn that Mount Cuba has launched a series of online courses designed to share their wonderful education resources with audiences everywhere.  Mount Cuba Center Connect, the online education portal, describes itself as a “virtual garden of eastern North American native plants.”A

My first online course, Moss Gardening, examines the variety of moss textures, describes  landscape uses for moss and explains how to establish a moss garden.  This course will serve as a perfect complement to my next large-scale garden project – restoring the woodland border on the north side of my yard.  I dive in to the material tonight.

Here’s to the start of a new adventure!

Trillium, phlox, foamflower and other native beauties. Photo from http://www.mtcubacenter.org

Disclaimer!  I’ve just joined the wonderful book site, Goodreads (www.goodreads.com), and now have a huge backlog of garden books to review.  So I’ll be posting them periodically over the next few weeks.  Look for me on Goodreads if you’re a member too!

The Organic Lawn Care Manual, by Paul Tukey

My husband purchased “The Organic Lawn Care Manual” in 2008. Out of curiousity, I thumbed through it and found it highly compelling. Paul Tukey’s advice just makes good sense – for the earth and for ourselves. And it’s easy to follow. We immediately adopted the all organic routine, tested our soil and amended it based on the results, applied corn gluten for weed control, and even started making compost. Our lawn looks great, not in a 1950’s suburban perfect sort of way, but real and healthy. What’s more though – the book inspired me to start advocating for natural lawn and garden care practices. I  joined the Million Acre Challenge, and even did a speech on organic gardening at my local Toastmasters club. I’m not exaggerating by saying that this book inspired me to make many positive changes in my life and my community. If you care about the environment, it’s a must read!

Meyer Lemon Risotto

Continuing last year’s rhapsody about Meyer lemons, I’m thrilled to share this link from Simply Recipes:

http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/meyer_lemon_risotto/

And now I have to rush out and buy some beautiful Meyer lemons to make this dish. I was oogling them in the grocery store yesterday (if that’s even a word), but wasn’t sure how I’d use them. Well, here’s the answer!