Southern Wisconsin Early Spring Garden

I’ve decided to try to keep up with the progress of my garden this year!

The beds that I planted earlier this month are now sprouting. We’ve had a good deal of precipitation–of all types–so far this spring. It is the temperatures that are a few weeks behind.

Three types of radishes

What you see sprouting in these two raised beds are mostly brassicas, greens, and root vegetables that germinate at lower temperatures.

Mesclun Mix

I was happy to see the rhubarb emerging. As well as the French sorrel, hard-neck garlic, and mache. If the weather warms up, we should have salad and rhubarb cake by the first week of May.

French Sorrel–this seeds around if you let seed head mature.
Garlic and Mache–I replant the garlic every fall evenly spaced to get bigger heads, but I could let it seed around like the mache and have my food without work.
Rhubarb–I have four plots of rhubarb in various parts of the yard.

As I age, I am trying to transition the garden to plants that seed themselves or come up on their own every spring. I am also tending toward single plants that provide more food without having to be coddled–fruit and nut trees and berry bushes.

I hope that we get some warm weather soon. I planted snap peas a week ago but have seen no signs of life yet. I still have half a pack of seed left if it turns out I have been too hasty and need to replant. Hope springs eternal when you are a gardener. Begonia

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Zinnias in Wisconsin in April?

I found this zinnia on the dining room table the morning of my birthday! (I’m not saying how old I am–but it was a significant number.) It was miserable cold day and I wondered, “Where did they find a zinnia at this time of year in Wisconsin?”

I looked a little closer and realized that the flower was made of crepe paper and was a present from my daughter. She has been making all kinds of crepe paper flowers for our neighbors and friends in the past month. Some of them take hours to make. I don’t have the patience, but I am glad that she does.

This little guy appeared a few days later. He is a present from my husband. We subscribed to Disney+ for New Year’s so that we could binge watch The Mandalorian until the ball dropped. It was cheaper than streaming movies, so now we have Disney+ even though I am not a real Disney fan and have most of the Marvel superhero movies on disc.

One of my nieces ended up with one of these little animatronic guys at the end of a family gift exchange last Christmas. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but after watching The Mandalorian and Boba Fett over again a couple of times, I ended up with a bad case of Grogu fever.

Man, those character designers sure know how to press all our buttons: baby sounds; small and seemingly helpless; ugly/cute; first steps-style baby walk; large liquid eyes in a little round noggin; toddler naughtiness; and unbaby-like food preferences (for gross worms and amphibians), green alien skin color, and (of course) superpowers. A character who needs to be saved and to save in return.

My mom had a similar reaction to Alf back in the 1980s when the show was on T.V. My dad bought her the Alf plush character and a rose for her birthday one year. I think Baby Yoda is cuter, and he doesn’t chase the cat.

All in all, it was a pretty nice birthday! Thanks to all my friends and loved ones who sent cards and greetings! Begonia

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Crazy Spring Weather

We’ve endured a dreary repeated pattern of weather for the last month: one sunny day, four cloudy days, followed by a couple of windy bitter rain/snow days.

March in Wisconsin really wears me out.

I’m grateful for those warm sunny days, though. I boiled sap on one such day. I got a few things done in the yard while the sap was boiling in the morning, including picking up branches previously hidden under snow and digging my raised beds on the south side of the house and amending the soil of one bed with a sack of play sand and fertilizing both beds with some organic, all-purpose pellets I purchased at our local farmers’ coop.

I cover my recently planted beds to keep the squirrels from digging them up!

I broadcast seed onto the bed closest to the rain barrels with a mesclun mix of greens. I raked the seed in and patted it down firmly. These are cut-and-come-again greens, but I think that I will leave the kale in place when the rest of the greens bolt late in spring, and it will become my kale bed for this year.

In the bed I added sand to, I planted three kinds of radishes and spinach in separate rows. I keep trying to grow radishes that don’t go all to tops. Although the tops are good eating as greens, I crave the crispy roots in the spring. When the spinach finishes, I will replant with carrots.

The biggest challenge of these two raised beds is keeping them watered. I have already been out watering them twice. The last time I watered, both watering cans had icebergs in them! The hip roof of our home doesn’t allow rain to fall on the foundation, so the back of these beds rarely benefit from any rain that falls. In the dry parts of late spring and summer, I have to water both beds completely each morning.

The leaves of the Resurrection Lily come up in the spring and die back completely before the flower stalks emerge in the summer.
Autunm Joy sedum just peeking.

While doing all of this work around the yard, I saw plants starting to awaken. Resurrection Lily (aka., Naked Ladies, a type of hardy amaryllis) and Autumn Joy sedum where the first, followed by crocus and Robin Hood tulips this past week.

My husband started to rake the thatch out of the lawn while I picked up sticks and branches. I had him dump the thatch onto the perennial beds in the back yard. (I like to get a jump on the weeds by mulching whenever and wherever possible!) A lot of people rake out their flower beds on the first warm day, I leave the “trash” on the flower beds to prevent early spring growth from getting nipped by frost or frozen by spring snow falls.

Like the snow that is falling now. (Sigh) Begonia

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