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Lawn and Garden

Spring in Your Garden

by Andrew Jozwik
Johnny Appleseed Greenhouses

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04/01/2012 - Judging from last month I think spring isn't just on its way, I think it has already arrived. March this year was one of the warmest I have seen. If April stays on the same track this will be a very early spring. All of the flowers in the greenhouses are in full bloom, and ready to go outside now. Our biggest challenge will be holding them back so that they don't get too big before it is safe for them to go outside.

As anyone who lives here knows, winter can return at any time all the way up until June. Although it is not safe for petunias and geraniums to go out yet, more frost hardy plants such as pansies, violas and a whole host of perennials can go out now. Even if the frost nips these plants, they will survive with little long term damage. I have had violas that have been snowed on, and as soon as it melts they still looked as good as ever. Most perennials that are hardy here are safe to go out now, because they have adapted to be able to handle our intermittent frosts after a period of warm weather. In addition to plants, April is a great time to gather up your seeds, sets, and roots for your garden.

One of the most popular root crops we have at the greenhouse is asparagus. Many people love the idea of having fresh asparagus in their garden. It grows well here, but getting a good asparagus stand started in your yard does take some patience. We have one that has been growing on the edge of the lawn for years. Every year it puts off many delicious sprigs of asparagus, unfortunately many go to waste, either aging too much before they get harvested or falling victim to the blades of the lawnmower. The ones that we do get are very good; they seem to have a more robust flavor than the ones from the store. As I was saying though it takes a little patience to get a good stand, even under optimal conditions it is not advised to harvest Asparagus for the first two years. I'll admit I have harvested some of mine the second year and not hurt things noticeably. When we do harvest ours, we try to leave some behind so that the plant can further its growth. If a stand is harvested too heavily it will dwindle away. Asparagus produces best in a fairly heavy soil with consistent watering, but I have seen plants that have survived in areas with virtually no water other than rain.

In addition to asparagus, it will soon be time to plant onion sets, and seed potatoes. Potatoes are very easy to grow, and one seed potato can produce many potatoes in the fall. Growing your own potatoes gives you the ability to pick them at a stage of development you like. For me I really like new potatoes (small young potatoes). To me they really don't taste much different, but they remind me of eating canned new potatoes when camping as a kid. Potatoes prefer a less compact soil, and planting them in a loose freshly tilled area makes digging them much easier.

I was talking to one of my neighbors last summer, and he said he grows his potatoes, and then he leaves them in the ground for the winter. He only digs them as he needs them, and he says they are as fresh in the early spring as they are in the fall. This is a pretty good way to keep them, and this man knows his stuff. He recently introduced me to avocadoes. I thought I knew avocadoes from the ones I had eaten from the store, I was wrong! This man brought me fresh avocadoes from his vacation, they were like nothing I had ever eaten. They were so good I ate one for breakfast, one for lunch, and one for dessert for almost a week. So thanks neighbor, and thanks to all of you for reading my articles, see you next month.

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