Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.
And we're not afraid to use them if necessary Saturday morning for the plant swap. The current forecast calls for it to be merely cloudy from 10 a.m. to noon, but we're prepared if need be.
And if the rain ever lets up, I'll be digging up a few of these deep pink bleeding hearts to take along since some of them have sprouted in areas I would prefer they not.
We've got a good selection of plants to get things started and have yet to see anyone ever go home empty-handed. We'll be in the mini park across the street from the main Star Tribune building at 425 Portland Ave. in downtown Minneapolis. Parking for participants is free in the parking lot during the event.
Since this year many plants are less mature, labeling isn't a bad idea. It can be as simple as a piece of masking tape with the name written on. If you have a plant with an unusual bloom that's not yet in evidence, you can grab a catalog to show people what it will look like later.
Don't have any plants to trade and are just looking to get started? No worries; there are always veteran gardeners who are mainly looking to get rid of their excess, so you can always score a few freebies.
Here's a link to six tips to get the most out of a plant swap, rain or shine:www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/blogs/Greengirls.html
This bay plant is ready for its closeup with the sun. Up until this week, it’s only had field trips to the outside for partial days, getting trundled back to the dim safety of the basement where it’s spent the past several winters.
It’s one of several plants I try to overwinter. Some, like the Vietnamese cilantro, make it just a few months until giving up the ghost in January . I’ve had my best luck with rosemary, sage, parsley and oregano. Thyme plants have been hit or miss. Sun-loving basil is a no-go; plant lights are no substitute for the blazing midsummer rays. Kale and Swiss chard drop their big leaves, but still send up fresh shoots.
After coaxing them through a long winter, the real moment of truth comes when they’re carted back outside to their summer patio home. Many have gotten straggly reaching for the light, and even plants that look a comparatively healthy green in the basement look anemic in the light of day. I try to ease the transition, bringing them out on mild days and tucking them in the shade. Sometimes they don’t get over the shock to the system and die off; sometimes the current growth dies back but it comes back strong from the roots. Other times I get lucky and the plant takes off anew.
Sure, I could just compost the plants in fall and buy new ones next spring. But it’s nice to have a ready source of fresh rosemary all winter, and there is some sense of satisfaction for having successfully cajoled the plant through another year. Plus, that’s money saved that I can put toward another basil plant.
What’s your success story or tale of woe with overwintering plants? And what herbs are you trying to grow this year?
You can always bring any overwintered plants -- or excess house plants -- to the plant swap this Saturday 10 a.m. to noon across from the Star Tribune building in downtown Minneapolis. (See details here: www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/206933391.html) Trust me, someone wants what you don't. And everyone who shows up just looking to offload excess plants winds up wandering home with a plant (or carful of plants). And if it rains, we have tents lined up, so stop by and enjoy swapping plants and stories with fellow gardeners. Here's a link to a post about how to get the most out of a plant swap: www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/blogs/151894905.html
Yesterday my kitchen looked like a garden center. It was filled with three mandevilla vines, two big potted tomatoes (a Mother's Day gift) and a couple dozen random annuals. I had hauled them in from the deck because it was supposed to freeze Sunday night. (Freeze! In mid May! Good grief!)
Then came today, with the forecast for 90 plus. So I hauled all those pots back out to the deck this morning, to soak up the warmth and sunshine, and doused them with water to keep them from getting parched.
I don't know if I dare plant the tomatoes yet, even though it's now hot enough to sun-dry them, if I had tomatoes to sun-dry.
This year has been such a bizarre extreme, especially compared to last year, when we were warning eager gardeners not to plant tomatoes in April, even though it was consistently warm and balmy and all the perennials were pushing up weeks ahead of schedule.
My garden remains in a state of suspended animation. There are a few signs of life on some of my perennials, but not all. The coneflowers haven't budged out of the ground yet. Two of five hydrangeas have yet to emerge. Even my hostas and sedum, the toughest stuff in my garden, are only showing about an inch of growth.
Now that it's finally quit snowing and freezing (I think), I know we're all impatient to start planting and get this growing season underway already.
The U of M Extension recommends May 15 to June 1 as the optimal time for planting tomatoes. I think I'll plant mine this weekend. I haven't even gotten a chance to plant my cooler-crop stuff like lettuce. The window between frozen, snow-covered winter and baking-hot summer has been so whisker-thin that I missed it entirely.
What will you do different in the garden this year, given that spring appears to have come and gone in about a day?
My dad laughed out loud when he heard I was one of the Greengirls, and frankly I don't blame him; it is quite a stretch.
I grew up under the green thumb of my dad, and although he's not a master gardener, he certainly has mastered gardening. My childhood was filled with baskets of fresh green beans, zucchini, cabbage, broccoli, onions, rutabagas, lettuce, spinach, parsnips, peppers and tomatoes, among other things. One would think that being surrounded by all of that, not to mention flower beds galore, some of that knowledge would have rubbed off. It didn't. But it did leave me with a love for all vegetables -- well almost all of them, I can take or leave a parsnip -- and big gardening dreams.
Our current garden space is small and is primarily used to feed my love for all things tomato.
For years I've been eyeing spaces to expand the garden, but have yet to take the plunge. I was certain this would be THE year, but then started to wonder if the crazy spring weather was trying to tell me something. Can I manage a bigger garden? Where do I even start?
Although life with three kids is hectic at best, gardening makes me happy. I love looking at the garden in various stages of growth, and I love that when you eat fresh-picked vegetables -- especially tomatoes off the vine -- you can almost taste the sunshine. It leaves me hungry for more.
So as the greenest of the Greengirls, I'm turning to you for advice. Is it too late to take the plunge or would I be biting off more than I can chew? I'm all ears.
Oh, and don't forget the Greengirls plant swap on Saturday -- find details here.
We've been waiting SOOOO long for spring to arrive. I'm dying to plant things in my plot and containers and make up for lost time. But spring's very lateness is forcing me to slow down. My perennials are so poky to emerge this year, that I can't tell what's coming back and what's dead.
I took a quick inventory last night. Of my five peony plants, only the early bird, the one that gets the most sun, is showing any life at all, and that's only a couple of stubs, no longer than the tip of my pinky finger. My Endless Summer hydrangeas are even more delayed. Only one plant is showing a few hints of green near the base. The rest look like Endless Winter, brown and lifeless.
My containers are a mystery. I have moneywort and creeping sedum that I use for "spillers" in several pots. They come back year after year, and I put the showier annuals in the middle, trying not to disturb the perennials on the edges. But this year, they moneywort and sedum just look brown and crispy, with no signs yet of new growth.
We just need to be patient, said Karl Foord, educator in horticulture for the University of Minnesota's Extension Service. Because of the unseasonably cold temperatures in April and into early May, we're weeks behind "normal" for plant growth. It seems especially stark because we were weeks ahead of schedule last year.
Foord isn't worried about heavy perennial casualties this year. "It was not a severe winter in any respect," he said. "It was long." But there was adequate snow cover, and temperatures weren't lower than usual.
So go ahead and plant your cool-crop veggies, but hold off on tender ones, like tomatoes, until Memorial Day, he advised. And don't give up yet on perennials that look like they didn't make it. They'll be poking their heads up soon. "It's going to happen fast now," Foord said. (For information about what veggies to plant when, visit (http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/dg1422.html)
What's going on in your garden? Are your perennials later to emerge than they've ever been?
What's coming up and what's not?
|Annuals (35)||Books and resources (7)|
|Chickens (3)||Compost (5)|
|Critters and pests (24)||Farmers markets (7)|
|Flowers (62)||Fruit and berries (24)|
|Grasses (19)||Green gardening (17)|
|Lawn care (20)||Perennials (66)|
|Preserving (6)||Rain gardens (1)|
|Seed starting (10)||Soil prep (9)|
|Tools (6)||Transplanting + dividing (8)|
|Trees (24)||Vegetables (90)|
|Weather (53)||Weeds (17)|
|Weekend chores (40)|