Garden Alert, Late Spring: Good and Bad Weeds, Food and Flower Garden Care
A little rain is all it takes and bingo – time for the festival of weeds. At our house, it’s endless pulling of creeping Charlie and ladies bedstraw, the weed from hell. On the good side, delicious lambs quarters, briefly steamed, then slowly sautaéed in olive oil with garlic. Mostly we just squeeze lemon on at the end, but sometimes Bill adds his special garnish: chopped oil-cured olives, dried tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts, with a judicious sprinkling of hot pepper flakes.
The wild phlox continues to bloom . pink. purple . white. purple… in the flowerbeds and borders, peeking through the hedges, pushing through cracks in the asphalt drive . years and years ago I invested a lot fantasy time in a small, quite expensive packet of something called hesperis, or Dame’s Rocket, described in the catalog as an old fashioned English cottage garden plant with highly scented flowers. Protected the baby plants from caterpillars, watered them, fed them, weeded around them. Waited for the second year, on account of they are biennials. When they finally bloomed – oh well, I knew it was beautiful all along.
The little bit of rain we’ve had is no-way enough for anything that has been newly planted, especially given the heat ; be sure to water more than you think you need to. Remember to stagger your bush bean plantings, so you don’t get a humongous crop , followed by beanlessness. If you are feeding 4 people or fewer, plant a double 30 inch row now, then the same at the end of June and one more in mid-July. If you plant a lot of tomatoes and stick the labels in the ground, you know how hard it is to find out what’s what after the plants get big. Avoid the problem by writing with a sharpie on a piece of flat green gardener’s tape. Tie the tape around the tomato stake. Stem-branching annuals like cosmos, marigolds, bedding dahlias – and basil all benefit from being pinched back, so the plants will make more branches. It takes fortitude to remove the first flowers, but as a wise gardening friend once remarked: somebody has to be the grownup around here. Do it now and you’ll be glad later.