Letters to Gardening Friends, April 5, 2009

This is the fifth letter in a weekly series of letters that I’m exchanging with. Dee from Red Dirt Ramblings in Oklahoma (zone 7a) and Mary Ann, the Idaho Gardener in Idaho (zone 6) to highlight the differences and similarities in how we garden and grow vegetables.

Dear Dee and Mary Ann,

Greetings from May Dreams Gardens. Writing these weekly letters sure heightens the sense of time and the days flying by. Where did that week go? Can it really be Sunday again?

As you can see from the picture, the peas are up in the vegetable garden and actually look like little pea plants. I’m growing two varieties this year, an edible pod variety called ‘Snowbird’ and a “regular” pea called ‘Green Arrow’, which I’ve grown successfully the last several years. I also have three varieties of sweet peas, and they’ve germinated, too.

At this point, I know that I really should get out the row cover to cover the pea plants and everything else that has germinated to protect them from the rabbits. But I just hate to do that because the row cover isn’t all that attractive.

So instead I’m playing a little game of “stare down” or “chicken” with the rabbits. Who will make the first move? Me by covering the rows? Or the rabbits by taking the first bite out of my defense-less little pea plants?

Or maybe the rabbits are gone and won’t be around this year? Maybe they’ve moved on to greener pastures? I can hope, but I know that’s probably not true because none of my neighbors have vegetable gardens, so I think my garden is the greener pasture.

In the meantime, while I play these mind games with the rabbits, I keep planting. Earlier today, before we got a deluge of rain this afternoon, I sowed more lettuce seed out in the garden, hoping to extend the harvest by a few weeks. I’ll get some good lettuce for awhile as long as it doesn’t get too hot too soon. Once it gets hot, the lettuce and the spinach will turn bitter and even the rabbits won’t eat it.

I also sowed seeds inside for nasturtium and basil, both to go in the vegetable garden, and some seeds for other flowers to go elsewhere.

Though I think a vegetable garden is pretty all on its own and take umbrage with those won’t don’t, I always plant a few flowers in and amongst the vegetables to make it even prettier.

On my flower list this year besides the nasturtiums are zinnias, marigolds, and sunflowers, which I’ll direct sow in the garden once the danger of frost has past. Around here in zone 5, actually 5b, that’s usually May 15th.

This coming week, I have some frosty mornings to look forward to, and some chances for snow showers. Doesn’t that sound nice? The HIGH temperature tomorrow is supposed to be 39 F. Just like the weather you both have been getting! Our weather always comes out of the west, more or less, so I can blame you both for it, can't I?

I know that what’s growing in the vegetable garden right now will survive all of the frost, but I worry about the apple tree in the center of the garden. If we have too much frost when it's blooming, I won’t get any apples, again. It’s too big to cover, and I don’t have any smudge pots, so I will just have to hope for the best.

But the weather is supposed to improve so that by next Sunday when I have my entire family over for Easter, we’ll be able to have the Big Easter Egg Hunt outside. None of the vegetable plants will be big enough to hide an egg, but I’ve got some nice weedy spots elsewhere in the garden that will make good hiding places. A lot of those plastic eggs will have money in them, so if one or two don’t get found, they’ll make nice discoveries for me in May. Just more riches of gardening!

Flowers and veggies to all (except the rabbits),

P.S. Did you all remember that this weekend is the first anniversary of all of us meeting at the spring fling in Austin?


  1. Wow, your garden is doing very well, Carol -- I think your letter exchanges are such a great idea!

  2. Carol,
    I DO hope you win the stare down... but like you I have a feeling it isn't likely. Pretty little pea plants you have. I find it so interesting they survive the frosty temps. I must remember that for my winter garden this year.

    I'm real excited about all the flowers I incorporated in the veggie garden this year. Even though those veggie plants are gorgeous, the flowers really draw in the bees and flies.

    Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

  3. Hey there! sorry about all the rain you are getting today...and that it's keeping you from the garden. Your peas are certainly a bright spot this week. I will plant mine tomorrow. It's finally warming up for a couple days.

    Yes, I recall Spring Fling in Austin last year. We had such a good time. I am looking forward to our Chicago adventure in May. Until next week...


  4. I am cracking up about the rabbit stare down. You would think I would have terrible problems with rabbits, but I think, with the land, they have plenty to eat. I'm sorry you're getting bad weather soon, but so are we. I just hope I don't send it on.~~Dee

  5. Carol, I have seen a few vegetable gardens that made me smile they were so delightfully beautiful....and I hope that the psychological games keep the rabbits from yours so that you can avoid unsightly row covers. Austin Spring Fling was a good time wasn't it! It will be good to spend time with you all again...gail

  6. We use the plastic eggs also. The Easter Bunny puts money in the ones he hides at Grandma & Grandpa's and candy in the ones at home. My boys (ages 9 1/2 and 12) still love it!

  7. I think the combo of veggies and flowers is good for many reasons—that certain combos attract beneficial insects. I was just reading about this.

    Congratulations on a successful beginning to your vegetable garden.

  8. I've heard that onions are good to plant with your roses and parsley is good to plant with daisies...to prevent bug's from munching on your flowers...

  9. It's almost time to break out the forks and spoons, I think! Here's hoping the rabbits haven't developed opposable thumbs and/or fine motor skills in the last year.

  10. Boy, you like to live dangerously with those rabbits. I'd have everything fenced off & covered up. I hope you win the contest of wills this year.

  11. I know what you mean about a faceoff with the rabbits; I do that with deer. Do you have any luck with using repellent sprays? I use a nontoxic one that works when I get it on the new growth...I've seen ones available for rodent-types as well, might be a way to save your beans and your aesthetics to boot.

    And as for the rain, all commenters can send unwanted rain to California, where we know how to appreciate it.

    Hope your apple blossoms stay safe!

  12. Hi Carol, that is wonderful you are having Easter at your house. The egg hunts have always been a high point for our family too. Hope the weather is warmer for you and your guests. Those darn rabbits.


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