Garden, Plant, Cook!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

April Planting Tips - NOW your garden may never be more important!

Carrot harvest a week ago.
Dear Folks,

Many factors or even a single event can move people to get a garden going or add on to one.  With the Covid-19 virus wreaking havoc on our minds and lives, a garden can give you literal nourishment AND a sanctuary.

One of my favorite quotes (I added "or economy") I started using many years ago at the farmers market.

"Unemployment [or economy] is capitalism's way of getting you to plant a garden."
             - Orson Scott Card

 I also always add - learn or refresh a skill OTHER than your major occupation.  Flexibility in challenging times allows people to make it their lives better.


The rains came and left us pretty wet.  In fact we have to keep hitting the rain delay on our auto watering systems.

The good news is the gardens are loving it.  The challenging news is all-of-those-weeds!  BUT before you go and pull, hoe and toss the weeds, ID the ones in your gardens which are edible.  Add them to salads, stews and sautee - after all their are free :)

Mallow with Nasturtium Leaves
This site lists 9 common weeds which are edible like common mallow which is one of the REALLY common weeds here.  The leaves can be eaten raw (young) or cooked when they are older to soften them.  The dried seed is a crunchy 'nut' called "cheese wheel" because it looks like a tiny wheel of cheese.

Stinknet Chamomile & African Daisy
One weed you really do want to get rid of is "False or Globe Chamomile" aka stinknet and the rains have made this a serious garden pest. It may look pretty but you seriously need to hoe and dispose of - do not compost - this invasive plant. [The picture was taken in our neighborhood, happily not in our gardens.]

A lot of local gardeners/farmers are concerned about how this has become a huge problem here in the Valley.

See below planting tips for more around my garden pictures.


Artichoke, Jerusalem
Bean, Snap
Beans, Soy
Garlic, Green
Melons, Musk
Onion, Green
Peas, Sugar
Peas, Black Eyed


Impatients Wallarana
Marigolds, including Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii), Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii)
Scented Geraniums
Sweet Alyssum

    Prune spring-flowering shrub fruit trees before flowering starts (April - May for shrubs like Pineapple Guava).
    If you planted your potatoes January 1st you can start checking the end of this month for usable size — just insert your fingers gently into soil.
    Get the children involved in gardening by helping them grow a Tee Pee or Sunflower House.
    Described in Linda Lovejoy’s fabulous book “Sunflower Houses,” either of these ‘hideaways’ will delight your budding gardener.
        a)  Create Tee Pees using 8-foot garden bamboo poles bundled and tied tightly 1 foot from the top.  Prepare the ground for the garden. Spread the legs of the Tee Pee — and anchor in the ground.  Plant pea, cucumber, or other edible vines at the base of each pole, and allow them to grow and cover the teepee.
        b) Sunflower Houses are created using the growing sunflowers for the poles of the house.  Prepare the planting area and decide how wide and long you want the house to be — ex. 4 x 6 — and draw the dimensions in the soil, leaving an opening for the ‘door.’  Mammoth sunflowers (those that grow over 6 feet) are best for this.  Plant the sunflower seeds 2 or 3 to a hole, about 1 foot apart all along the ‘walls’ of the house.  In between the sunflower seeds, sow edible vines like peas or cucumbers.  Given the water requirements, creating a trench for the walls will allow flood watering for the growing plants. These houses can be as elaborate as you and your children wish. Plant flower or strawberry beds along the outside walls;  herb and flower ground covers inside for a ‘carpet’ are limited only to the imagination. The vines grow up the sunflowers and if they are enthusiastic enough, will even grow over the top of a narrow room creating a ceiling.
        c) do teach the children about bees, leaving them alone and avoiding them when they are "working" the flowers.

I was so delighted when I cruised the gardens about a week ago.  I spotted our Dwarf Black Mulberry covered with flowers - looking forward to fruit in about 45 or so days.

I think I have written about the "blackberry tree" in a neighbors yard when I was a child and only a couple of decades ago I realized it has to have been a dwarf black mulberry!

This 'pup' is NOT an aloe or similar plant.  It is a pineapple!!

When I purchase fresh pineapple, I cut off the top, root and plant.  So far I've had no real success with them "doing" anything.  I think this was originally planted about 4 years ago.  So surprised to find a pup.  I believe it can take the baby about 4-5 years to get big enough to produce a single fruit.  Will just be fun for the time being to see how it grows.

This pepper plant has been going strong for 5+ years and the lovely liliac colored Stock comes back every year.  These are sweet "lipstick" peppers and the plant produces several times a year.  The stock flowers are an edible member of the broccoli family and, while tasty, they have an incredible fragrance.

I hope you and yours are safe and dealing with the virus and economic challenges.

We can all get through this with kindness and patience while sharing with those who need.  And no matter what . . .

Tend your garden!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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