Winter? We look at the calendar and we know it’s “technically” winter. But that’s the only sign. The birds don’t think so, the forsythia doesn’t think so, and according to the Washington Post (3/11) the bugs don’t even think it’s winter! The article appeared on page A3, above the fold, as the first under the banner “Politics and the Nation.” Some examples: A major pest control company reported a 30% increase in calls for ant infestation; and “Reports of early tick activity have been received from the East Coast to the
Not only is it warmer than usual; it’s drier too, at least so far. Ten days ago, during the class on Sustainable Vegetable Gardening Part 3, Soil, we noted that the soil was too wet to cultivate in many places but now, already, it’s much drier; we’re about 30% short of normal rainfall for the month. The other indicator is soil temperature. The milestones for planting potatoes are mid March and when the soil temperature reaches 50 degrees F. Guess what? Today it’s already 55 in my beds. Guess I better get on with planting the potatoes!
If you planted garlic or other aliums to overwinter last fall, this would be a good time to check them out, if you haven’t already. Onions don’t compete well against weeds. I just finished weeding mine at home, again. The winter annual weeds really came on strong this year-- I’m talking about bittercress, chickweed, and henbit, the evil trio. They are everywhere and they keep popping up in the onion patch, even in spite of teh straw. The trick is to “harvest” the annual weeds before they go to seed. Harvest by pulling, mowing, removing them by hand; don’t spray them, the annuals are going to die anyway and you don‘t want poison other things. They make good additions to the compost pile if they haven’t set seed. After pulling back the straw and weeding, I mulched the bed well with compost and watered them thoroughly.
The cook’s garden portion of the teaching garden usually breaks ground ahead of the ornamental areas. And we’ve been at work for a couple weeks now. We have 8 biointensive and 6 raised beds this year, with one bio bed on loan as a nursery area. Planning is coming along and we should have a good mix of fruits and vegetables to demonstrate this year and to donate to the shelters and food banks. Newly planted crops this month include radishes, onions, peas (sugar snap and garden), lettuces, turnips, kale, and Swiss chard. Potatoes will go in shortly. We already have lots of plants started indoors, like cabbage, celeriac, and artichokes. And the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are just now, or will soon be starting their germination, looking forward to mid-May planting. Our biggest challenge is fences so that we can better protect what we grow this year.
Come visit us in the teaching garden this year and let us know how your garden grows! Saturdays in the Garden and workdays are posted on the web site: www.mgpw.org.