Dear Friends and Gardeners, Week #8

Wow! Can you believe we are on week eight?

Dear Carol and Dee,

Dear Friends and Gardeners,

Things are really starting to pop here at Ranch du Bois. We had three days of 80+ temps and bright sunshine which makes the spring plant world do the happy dance. My Perestroyka, Negrita, Orange Lion and Impression tulips are glorious.

The little species Persian Pearls are in full bloom in several clusters in the front garden. For some odd reason, I have a single stately fritallaria persica. It’s a gorgeous thing, but I don’t know why there aren’t at least two more. Squirrels?

Enough stalling, I have a confession. I hate starting plants from seeds. I know, I know, how cool it is to take something the size of a freckle and later make a meal out of it, i.e. a Brandywine tomato seed. I just don’t have enough commitment to the process to be any good at it. Earlier in the week, I put the seedling tray on the patio and when I looked a couple hours later, only two of the 5 tomatoes wisps were still standing. Everything else had disappeared. A little too much heat and poof! they expired. I swear the basil and flower seedlings crawled right back into the soil. At that point, I thought I had just two of the Sungold cherry tomatoes intact. Today, with my 2.50 power reading glasses, lo and behold, there were 2 Kentucky Beefsteaks, 4 Turkish Orange eggplants and a single nicotiana mutabilis making their debuts. Johnny Appleseed I am not.

Having shared that with you, I am thrilled to report we ate from the garden last night. Yessiree-bob, we had a salad that was only minutes from the flower pot to the table and oh-so-tasty. A couple weeks ago, I planted a half packet of micro-greens in a 16 inch wide ceramic flower pot. Last night, just before dinner, I “thinned” them to make a salad. There were little bitty radishes in the mix which made it look great on a plate and zingy to eat.

My newest raspberries are leafing out (thank God I didn’t kill them). The old, established rhubarb has small red stems and makes me hopeful for rhubarb-tinis in the near future. The apple espalier is still blooming on the top rung, the Gala apple rung. I won’t know for awhile whether my apricot tree will produce this year. It was covered in blossoms.

Last fall, I planted a couple dozen cloves of garlic at the last minute. I really want some garlic scapes. They are so cool when they appear at the top of the stalk, all swirly and curlicued and tender in a stir fry. The garlic blades are up about 6-8 inches so far.

The hideously priced Mara des Bois strawberries – that’s another story. I planted them the day they arrived and have kept an eye on them. I can only see 4 of the seven crowns. At almost $10 a pop, if they don’t make it, I am gonna be one cranky gardener. Unlike the tomato seedlings, I have devoted myself to their happiness. I’ve been out there talking to them, coaxing and wheedling. Don’t laugh.

I just read an article about talking to plants. Wisley is the experimental station for the Royal Horticulture Society in England. They had 45 people audition to speak to the plants, and whittled it down to 10 different voices to use on the plants. Very scientific and no doubt a fine investment in plant research. Can I vote for Scotland’s Susan Boyle?

I attended the Idaho Botanical Garden’s plant sale on Friday and tho I didn’t buy anything, I made a date with a friend who grows 102 varieties of tomatoes. She will be selling them from her home next weekend, and I will be there with my cash. Many, many moons ago we went to Italy. Everywhere we ate, they served insalata Caprese, the tomato/water buffalo d’mozzerella/basil salad. Interestingly enough, the tomatoes were often a medium pink color. The tomatoes were perfectly ripe, pink was their mature color. Betty grows several pink Italian heirloom varieties so you know what I will be bringing home. All is not lost in my quest for a huge crop of tomatoes.

We still have 19 days until our last frost date. There can be surprises after that, but I am ready to seed some of my annual flowers directly into the ground where it is already nice and warm and holding some warmth up against the house. Peas are going in the ground in a few minutes. Its warm enough and dry enough they won’t rot now.

I look forward to reading your tales of garden thrills and spills this week. I do believe these weekly check-ins are making me a better gardener. There’s always that nagging little voice in my head saying, “you better get hoppin’ so you have something to write about NEXT week.” Speaking of hopping, Carol, how’s the rabbit situation?

Until next time,