The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

The ferns of summer cool off the scene – Any porch or deck seems cooler when adorned with containers or baskets of lush, green ferns. Green is the coolest of colors and ferns in the warmth of spring and summer express that. There are so many ferns to choose from and the Boston fern is probably the most popular, but please don’t leave out the old fashion Panda fern like the huge one that adorned an old wash tub with holes punched in it on my grandmas North Hampton County back porch in the 1950s. It’s greenery looks like Christmas decor and covered every inch of that tub. Another fern that deserves attention is the Asparagus fern with it’s spring tips and mint green color. All ferns can be wintered over giving some winter greenery to send the rooms inside the house when days are cold outside. All ferns have unique shades and colors of green and can be cut to shape and size. If they outgrow their containers, they can be repotted to larger containers. They are very good investments that keep on producing for many years with wee amount of care.

Keeping birdbaths and feeders field – As we move through the month of May, the birds are active, nesting, searching for food for their young. Refill the baths with freshwater every evening and also keep feeders full to make their search for food a bit easier as well as make your yard a welcome place for them. Remember to change nectar in hummingbird feeder two or three times a week. Check at the first of the week to see how much they consume in two or three days and replace only that much in the feeder to avoid wasting nectar.

Roses of spring continue in their beauty – The roses are putting on a special show on these mid spring May days. As the months of June and July come, they will still have blooms if the old blooms are dead headed after they have peaked out. They need a drink of water every few days when no rain falls and liquid rose fertilizer every 10 days while they are blooming. As the weather continues to warm up, check bushes for leaf mites and Japanese beetles and spray as needed.

A spring morning in a Piedmont strawberry field – Just a couple of more weeks remain in the 2018 strawberry season and a warm late May morning with the sound of birds and the scent of the fragrance honeysuckles, a trip to a nearby strawberry field is on the to do list for the morning. You can pick your own or purchase them already picked, and either way they are a real bargain. A strawberry eaten straight from the plant is a special treat especially one warmed by the spring morning sun and kiss from an early morning dew!

Dealing with morning glories in May – The pesky morning glories are popping up their ugly heads in the garden plot and this is one garden weed the plot can do very well without. We know the solution to the morning glory problem with that is to pull the up by the roots while they are at a young stage of growth. Even at a leaf stage, morning glories already have a 2 inch root system. We like to pull them up at this stage and throw them out of the garden.

Helping prevent blossom and rot on your tomatoes – Blossom end rot destroys many tomatoes before they can ripen. The time to prevent this disease is early in the game, even at the time you set out your tomato plants. Start by applying handfuls of powdered lime (calcium carbonate) around the roots of the plants before covering them up as the plants grow use Vigaro tomato with calcium enriched ingredients fertilizer on the plants. Another good product is calcium fortified organic fertilizer dug around the base of the tomato plants. If you already have tomatoes planted, you could do a quick blossom end prevention by mixing 2 quarts of powdered lime to a 2 gallon sprinkling water can and mix it together and pour at base of tomato plants. Repeat in two weeks.

Cleaning porch and deck furniture – Now that most pollen has unloaded from the trees, it’s time to place porch and deck furniture and tables out for spring, summer and autumn enjoyment. A good cleaning solution and mildew prevention mixture is to mix a gallon and a half of warm water with 2 quarts of chlorine bleach and 2 ounces of dish detergent and a half cup of vinegar. Start and use the towels or dish cloth to wipe down the chairs and table legs. Allow the warm sun to dry the chairs before replacing cushions. Use regular window cleaner to clean glass table top.

A fragrance perfume on a warm spring evening – The frequent perfume of wild honeysuckle, blossoms walks through the car windows as we drive down a Piedmont country road on a warm spring evening. We stop along a country lane and gather a bouquet of blooms along a roadside ditch. When placed in a vase on the bedroom dresser it prolongs their essence for several days.

Making a homemade strawberry shortcake – We are at the midpoint of Piedmont strawberry harvest. As the season continues, we feature a wonderful recipe for shortcake for a fresh strawberry treat, and not loaded with sugar. You will need one and a half cups plain flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla, half cup Crisco shortening, 1 cup sugar, two beaten eggs, half cup of milk. Mix flour salt and baking powder. Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture with the other ingredients. Mix with the cup of milk and beat whole mixture. Pour into a 12 x 9 baking dish sprayed with Pam. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pan. Top with 3 pints of fresh strawberries and mixed with half cup of sugar. Coat with a layer of whipping cream or an envelope of dream whip or Cool Whip.

Ray Baird