It’s still early in the spring vegetable garden and the majority of the planting is still ahead of me but I wanted to share some highlights and a couple of disappointments from this stage of the growing season.
Starting out with the old reliable crops that I can always depend on; the fall planted garlic, shallots, and multiplier onions are looking like they will all yield an awesome harvest this summer with plants that tall, healthy, and care-free. There are also leafy greens like kale, arugula, mustards that over wintered as usual and are now providing fresh leaves for salads, smoothies, and cooked meals.
Backyard Fig Trees Survive a Winter without Cover
On the other hand were two fig trees that I didn’t hold out high expectations for as spring arrived; one had been planted out in the ground two seasons ago and was wrapped and covered the previous winter but left totally exposed this past one. The second fig tree occupies a container that was sunk into the ground but also left outside to endure all that winter has to offer.
When the garage-kept potted fig trees were budding and being moved back outside the two neglected fig trees looked lifeless, with no signs of buds or the slightest hint of green growth. At that point I figured the trees had died back and hoped that they would resprout from the ground, but fortunately a couple weeks later both were sending out figs and leaves from the tips of their branches.
Who Says that You Can’t Raise Pomegranates in Cold Climates?
I wasn’t sure what to expect from my pomegranate tree this spring; last winter was the first that it had spent in the ground and I wasn’t sure whether it would survive the winter here. It was also slow to show any signs of life but the plant is now covered with reddish tinted leaves and I expect it to flower and fruit even better than it did last summer.
The two pomegranate cuttings that I picked up at the Backyard Fruit Grower’s grafting workshop were divided into three sections each and planted in a seeding tray. I didn’t fuss over them at all but five of the six cuttings successfully rooted and are showing significant leaf growth. So I would have to say that pomegranates can definitely be grown here in Pennsylvania!
Teaching Your Hardy Kiwi Vines a Few New Tricks
Of course hardy kiwis can come through the winter unfazed; that’s why they call them “hardy” kiwis… but where there is no guarantee is when you decide to graft additional varieties onto your kiwi vines! In late March that is exactly what I did, grafted a section of “Hardy Meader” male on one end of my hardy kiwi vine and a section of a female variety called “Ananasnaya” onto the other end and hoped that they would take.
Well it wasn’t a long wait at all; within a few weeks it was clear that both of the grafts had taken and another milestone in the training of my hardy kiwi vine has been achieved. The next steps will be to establish the lateral branches of the vine and possibly do more grafting later this summer. So far things are ahead of schedule and progressing better than expected with the kiwis, I will share more of the details later.
A Great Report from the Veggie Gardening Tips Apiary
I’m very happy to share that all of the beehives survived the winter and are now busy gathering nectar and pollen to expand their colonies. Winter is a critical time for the survival of bee colonies and I went into the season with a total of five colonies. Two were top bar hives and one a Langstroth hive (the typical vertical boxes), in addition there was one top bar nuc, and one Langstroth nuc.
A nucleus hive or “nuc” is just a smaller sized beehive with a colony that is often used to start up a new colony. I used my lang nuc to start a new full sized colony and I wound up selling the top bar nuc to a beekeeper in West Virginia. If I can prevent swarming this spring there should be a decent honey harvest form the bees this summer… at least I hope so! I’ll provide a complete update on the beehives soon.
Surprising Herbs Reappear in the Spring Garden
Last summer I planted a new bed in the front yard that contains a mix of ornamental edibles, herbs, and native plants. It’s beginning to look like that might be the best gardening real estate in my entire landscape. It gets more sun, is sheltered from winter winds, and so far the plants located there are thriving.
Rosemary doesn’t reliably over winter for me but I set a few plants in the front bed and they not only survived the winter, but are also currently in bloom! The sage plants also look like they are in perfect condition. And I haven’t noticed anything in the new front yard ornamental-edible bed that hasn’t come through winter in great condition.
That isn’t to say that everything is rosy in the garden this spring, next up I’ll report on some of the failures and disappointments that I have experienced in the early spring vegetable garden.
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