We haven't had a yard in which to plant since we left Germany — and that was in 2005, so we're really excited about having a garden this year. Our new house came with a raised garden bed, and the front of the bed is already planted with asparagus (from the previous owners), so it will be interesting to see what comes up from there this year. We also "inherited" some raspberry canes along the west side of the fence, and we've purchased 2 varieties of blueberries (the Reka, Arandano reka, is pictured left) to plant alongside them. Shortly after we moved in last fall we were gifted with two mature black currant bushes from a friend's garden, and we intend to supplement those with red currants as well. The black currants are already budding (see, they were fooled by the warm weather too)... let's hope there won't be a hard frost any time soon. We've also ordered a sour cherry tree, which should ship sometime in mid-April and we're on the look-out for a Nittany apple tree.
The house came with some terraced planters built in to retaining walls around the patio (east side of the house) and in front of the basement (west side). The west side planters have rhubarb and horseradish planted in, and we hope we'll be able to move both to free up those planters for herbs. In border areas we're planning to grow lots of lemon balm, lemon verbena and lavender. And I recently learned that lemongrass grows well here as an annual, so that will have to figure in somewhere too.
This week we also sowed some seeds. So far we've started rainbow chard (photo, right), spinach, zucchini, Tuscan kale, pumpkin, bell pepper, Italian romano beans (photo, left), blue lake beans, sunflowers, shiso, basil, borage, oregano, dill, flat leaf parsley, and donne (Guam) peppers. We're not sure yet about planting tomatoes this year. After only 3 days, some of the seeds have already already sprouted. Don't you love starting seedlings — there is so much promise in such a tiny package!
The state of Maryland encourages residents to plant native trees and offers $25 coupons towards the purchase of preferred native trees. Since we already have so many oaks (I think they're pin oaks and black oaks, the former are natives), we're planning to use the coupons to get a couple of paw-paws (photo above, courtesy of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture) — the only natives on the approved list that produce an edible fruit (for humans). What is a paw-paw? Not being a native myself, I had to look it up too! According to the all-knowing Wiki, the common paw-paw (Asimina triloba) belong to the same family as soursop and cherimoya, and is the only member of that family that can grow outside the tropical zone. It does look kind of like a papaya (hence the name, which is Spanish for papaya), but is said to have a banana-like flavor and texture. What do you think?
Besides the cold rain (and snow) forecast for much of this week, perhaps the biggest obstacle to spring yard projects will be the competition for T's attention now that he knows that the ponds and lakes around us are stocked with bass and full-grown trout! On Saturday, our next door neighbor stopped by while he was outside pruning to tell him the lakes around the county had been stocked earlier in the week. First thing Sunday morning we were at the nearest pond (1 mile away), he with his fly rod. Since there is a stocked pond so close, he was back Tuesday evening after work, and plans to fish after work regularly.
And you know how friendly fisherfolk can be... T. has since learned where the key fly-fishing spots are within a 20-mile radius, so I may be a fly-fishing widow until May. I don't have a problem with that as long as there is fresh trout to be had. So far, no such luck. So that leaves us warming ourselves by the fire, waiting on our seeds, pampering our starter plants, and designing a rain-friendly landscape.
Help us forget about the weather outside... tell us what you're planting this spring!