Garden Notes : Contemplating spring
Island Grown Initiative (IGI) plans its second Poultry Day April 11 and invites the public to attend and participate at Agricultural Hall, from 9 am to 2 pm. For more information, contact Doug Brush at 508-693-2057 or email@example.com.
With the strengthening sun and recent rainfall the grass is greening rapidly, almost before our eyes. A layer of mulch on weedy beds aids maintenance and weed removal. Lawns are ready for liming and fertilizing and the first dandelion plants are evident. In a move to raise consciousness about applying toxics to an environment and water table already heavily burdened, I urge readers to do more digging of weeds and less spraying of herbicides.
Photo by Susan Safford
As groundwater residues in heavily agricultural regions demonstrate, it is now known that glyphosate (Roundup etc.) herbicides do not break down in contact with the soil, as advertised. I have learned to make dandelion roots and greens into salad and tea, a fine spring tonic (I know it sounds quaint) but, if you are not tempted by herbal cookery, they also add beneficial properties to compost.
Not only the does honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) place at risk the hives of local beekeepers, but worldwide it risks the successful harvest of hundreds of important food crops. Multiple causes - the usual suspects and then some - have been identified in the etiology of this AIDS-like honeybee problem, but extreme hygiene is the crucial tip that beekeepers can take from an article in Scientific American reporting on recent research: sciam.com/article.cfm?id=saving-the-honeybee.
Brent & Becky's Spring/Fall Flowering Bulbs catalogue is in gardeners' hands (brentandbeckysbulbs.com/). As usual it is a Technicolor delight, overflowing with great images of tulips, narcissi, and all the rest of the Good Spring Things. It is a source for the charming Iris unguicularis (photo) as well as other diminutive iris species.
The tiny I. unguicularis, about five inches tall, modestly help usher in the season in my dooryard garden. Nearby, showier cloth-of-gold crocus (C. ancyrensis), Siberian squills, and snowdrops out-shout the iris. The foliage, greyish green and grass-like, extends after the bloom, which is glacial blue with yellow flares and lavender dappling and veining. They are perfect rock garden plants. I am told they enjoy a protected spot with good drainage where they can bake in summer, but this I have not given them. Nonetheless they seem fine.