Carol from May Dreams Gardens (Zone 5), Mary Ann from Gardens of the Wild, Wild West (Zone 6) and I decided, last year, to exchange letters from our vegetable gardens. We had so much fun we’re continuing the tradition this spring and summer. We hope to give everyone an idea of how gardens grow in three different USDA hardiness zones. I garden in Zone 7a, where we’re having the best sort of spring.
Good Morning Garden Buddies,
What a fine morning it is. The sun is shining, and it’s a brisk 47F, but I read the temperature will be climbing to 79F by this afternoon. My friend, Katie, is coming by to get some of my overflow, and I’m going to photograph her garden for the Lowe’s blog. She’s turned a small urban yard into a natural haven for birds, butterflies and all of God’s creatures.
The bok choy is starting to bolt, so I ate it nearly everyday last week in a stir fry. It tastes so good how could I not? The broccoli is forming heads, and Bill (HH) finds this quite a thrill. I’ve only grown broccoli a few times because our springs often turn hot before it gets a chance to set. Not so this spring thus far.
I’m starting to harvest lettuce and spring onions. We’ll have a salad made of thinnings tonight with our dinner. Most of the basic vegetable garden is planted, but I still need one more hill of squash, along with watermelons and cantaloupe. Have you ever eaten a cantaloupe straight from the garden, so ripe, the juice runs down your chin? Well, if not, you should. In rich soil, cantaloupe is easy to grow in warmer climates. The biggest thing to remember about melons and squash is pollination. Because the European honeybee is in such trouble worldwide, there are summers when I need to hand pollinate. When the squash flowers, I’ll show everyone how. It’s easy, but you must get out there and do it, or the little squash just rot on the stem. Unless, of course, native bees and wasps pollinate for us. Another reason to plant lots of flowers near our vegetables.
I’ve noticed the plants in the potager have performed so much better than those in the lower garden. I’ve surmised there are two reasons for this: being four giant containers, the potager warmed much faster; and the lower, back garden is on quite a slant so some of the small seeds seem to have washed a bit.
I had quite a weekend. Saturday, I went to the northeastern outskirts of Oklahoma City to photograph Hugh and Jennifer Stout’s garden for Oklahoma Gardener magazine. They’ve named their hybridizing and nursery business Stout Gardens at Dancing Tree, and they are holding open houses on some weekends. They sell and hybridize both irises and daylilies, and people strolled the beautiful, five-acre garden with clipboards in hand, marking those irises they wanted to buy. Did I buy any? Well, what do you think? I’ll need to find a place to put those spiky leaved pretties. I’m especially enamored of their new cultivar, ‘Backdraft’. Simply amazing color and that gold edge around the falls, yum.
Then, I went with several high school friends for facials in Guthrie. My friend, Martha, lives in an old house which she’s totally renovated. I brought five dozen eggs to share, and this is what Dana wrote me later on Facebook (I hope she doesn’t kill me for posting this):
“I just had my very first FRESH egg breakfast and I’m so happy! Those eggs are the best. I never want another grocery store egg as long as I live. Everyone needs to go out and buy chickens so they can have eggs like that! Not only did they taste fresh but they are so beautiful. What a great way to start the day.”
So, you have it, fresh eggs, fresh veggies, and flowers cut from the garden for your table. Fresh really is best.