Letters to Gardening Friends, May 24, 2009

Dear Dee and Mary Ann and gardening friends everywhere,

I can’t believe it, or maybe I can. We’ve gone from a light frost early last Monday morning to steady temperatures in the 80’s and my first spinach crop is starting to bolt! That’s as sure a sign of summer arriving as the peonies fading and dropping their petals. Or as sure a sign as Jim Nabor’s singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” at the Indy 500 race that took place out on the west side of town earlier today.

All my direct sown summer crops, sown nine days ago, are also starting to germinate. Yes, I’ve got beans, corn, squash, and cucumber seedlings in the garden, along with sunflowers, zinnias, and marigolds, and of course, weeds.

And my tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers seem to be coming out of their spring funk, too, so I don’t think I’ll need to buy too many plants, after all. My gardening therapist, Dr. Hortfreud, will be happy to know that I’ve stopped worrying about the tomatoes, kind of.

So now that everything is starting to grow, we could actually use some rain. The other evening I went out to check the garden, again, and some of the pepper plants I had purchased and planted looked pretty bad. At first I thought it might be frost damage finally showing, and I was tempted to just pull them out, but then I watered everything and the next day, they were all perky again. That’s a good lesson to remember because often the garden looks pretty wilted in the late afternoon, just like we would be if we’d spent all day out in the sun. But by morning, all is fine again.

And morning is the best time to harvest from the vegetable garden, because the water content in the plants is highest at that time.

This morning, I picked lettuce, spinach, radishes, onions, pea pods, and lettuce.
I feel a certain urgency to eat the lettuce as fast as I can, every meal, because it won’t be long before those plants bolt, too, and turn bitter in the heat.

The big surprise in the garden this morning was three ripe strawberries. Don’t ask me if you can have one, I’ve already eaten them. But there will be more to eat in the days ahead, so maybe I’ll bring some to the Spring Fling later this week?

But before I think about bringing strawberries to the spring fling, I’ve got a lot to do, including preparing the garden to get along without me for a few days. I’m going to go ahead and cover the young green bean plants, because that’s a favorite food of the rabbits. No tellin’ what those rabbits will do if they find out I’m not around. I’m also going to give the garden a good soaking Wednesday evening, mow the lawn, and of course, pick any ripe strawberries to snack on while I’m driving to Chicago.

See you on Thursday!

Flowers and veggies to all,

P.S. The picture above is of another peony blooming today, but fading fast. It’s a passalong from a co-worker.

P.S.S. Here’s a picture of the garden today. Please ignore the weeds and the lack of mulch in the paths.

I clearly need to take my own advice to Embrace Weeding for a happier life, or at least to have a weed-free garden. Weed-free garden? Is there such a thing? Nah, I don’t think it exists. Another one of those myths of gardening!


  1. Weed free would just plain be weird wouldn't it? I think your garden and your harvest looks grand. Can't wait to see you and MA next week.~~Dee

  2. Here you are just getting going good and I am fading fast in the veggie garden. We've had rain all week (unusually) and the soil has heated up even at night so (most)veggies are not happy.

    Such is gardening life.

    Have fun at Spring Fling... hope your garden manages for those few days without you... I know it's hard to leave it.
    Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

  3. Carol, you're going to think I'm making this up. I was in the car this afternoon when I heard Jim Nabor's singing "Back Home Again in Indiana" at the Indy 500, and I thought about you! Honest!

  4. Your gardens look great, what would life be without weeds? Keep water on those pepper plants, I know you know that. Bell peppers will be bitter without enough water...

  5. i just weeded my strawberry patch this morning. i have lots & lots of green strawberries of various sizes. i can not wait for them to turn red so i can stuff my face with them!

  6. Thankfully, I actually like weeding (most of the time). We have quite a few trees on our property that like to send out suckers or persistent seedlings, so it's a good thing, too! Usually after I get home from work, I spend at least a half hour or so watering and weeding - sometimes before I even go inside (which does not make the cats happy!). It's good to soak up some sunshine after being in the office all day :)

  7. Spinach and radishes are gone here, Carol - picked a few straggler sugar snap peas for a salad but should probably pull the vines. Your lettuce looks delicious and I do envy you the strawberries!

    Since Jim Nabors sang his song - time to wish you Happy Summer!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  8. I believe that we have achieved summer here in SW Missouri too, must have been Jim Nabors singing. . .

    I can forgive you your weeds! Especially if you forgive me mine. . . Isn't it just the way the world works? The more you make your garden a beautiful place for lettuce and tomatoes and peppers, the better the weeds like it. YOu can grow some of the most AMAZING big strong healthy weeds when you provide them with mulch and water and fertilizer! Right now I have a never ending chore in the new garden beds I created for the stroll garden.

    We've been picking strawberries every morning for over a week; racing out to the patch at the crack of dawn in order to get them before the birds and the turtles.

    My lettuce is heading for bolt-dom, the peas are winding up.

    Your travails with the tomatoes reminds me of the year when we had a hard freeze on May 8, after we had put out our tomato and pepper seedlings. To all appearances, they were killed completely. We went to town and bought replacements, and when I went out to plant them along the rows where all the dead plants were we discovered that they were all coming up from their roots. We planted the replacements somewhere else and in the end the "frozen ones" performed better than the storebought stuff, but that summer we had so many tomaotes I was able to make ketchup as well as the puree and diced tomatoes we usually produce. Glad that your tomatoes are okay and you no longer need Tomato Therapy.

    Have a great time at the Spring Fling.

  9. What weeds...I see beautiful plants in a delightful garden. See you soon....gail

  10. Gorgeous peony! The veggie garden looks good to me, too!

    Watch out, Chicago, we're on our way!


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