Spring 2021 Garden Update

Spring has arrived and the perennials in our garden have begun to leaf, bud, and bloom.

Creeping Charlie

Creeping Charlie

The first signs of color came from the vibrant  creeping charlie (glechoma hederacea) that we’ve encouraged to grow as a ground cover for our little backyard food forest.

It is true that creeping charlie is “invasive”. But invasive is what we needed for an attractive replacement cover for the patchy lawn that was once here. And unlike dandelions and violets, creeping charlie has never invaded our raised beds. It also has stood up fairly well to occasional foot traffic.

Almond Blossom

Almond Blossom

The first nut tree flower in the garden was on the almond tree (prunus dulcis). This tree has taken a long time to get established, and last year we thought it wasn’t going to survive. But we pruned it heavily, took down an apple tree that was growing too close to it, and now it appears to be making a strong comeback.

There is a race on between the remaining duo of dwarf apple trees and the trio of dwarf pear trees to see which will flower first. All are beginning to get their leaves and the buds are showing.

Arkansas Black Apple Leaves and Buds

Arkansas Black Apple Buds

Down from four apple trees, we removed the golden delicious and the rome, as neither were producing well after many years, and our tiny food forest was getting a little crowded. We kept the dwarf red delicious because it has remained rather small and has been productive, though its location is not ideal. The arkansas black apple tree has been the best and most productive of them all, producing fruit that stays on the tree late into the fall and is relatively pest and disease free compared with the others. Arkansas black apples also keep really well.

Bartlett Pear Leaves and Buds

Bartlett Pear Buds

The bartlett pear tree has grown fairly large for a dwarf tree, when compared with the moonglow and honeysweet pear trees. The former has been producing fruit for the last two years, the latter two are just reaching maturity and will likely produce a good crop of fruit soon. The bartlett was supposed to be a dwarf, but we were surprised when it grew to a full 25-ft height! Fortunately, it has retained its narrow shape and not overshadowed its corner of the garden.

Last year, we lost half of our pears to wasps that would bite holes into the pears, burrow into the pear, and eat their way out! Hopefully, we won’t have a wasp problem this year.

Sea Kale Young Leaves

Sea Kale Young Leaves

The sea kale (crambe maritima) always gets an early start and is easy to spot in the garden due to its distinct blue-green color.

Not content to remain in its own patch, it has spread to one of our garden beds. It has been very easy to grow and care for; it has had no problems with pests or diseases.

Despite its name, it is not soft and tender like the brassica kale. The thick leaves are good in a stir fry and can take the heat.

Hazelnut Leaves

Hazelnut Leaves

In March, the hazel (corylus avellana) flowered (not shown; its magenta flowers are extremely tiny) and now it is getting its leaves. I guess technically, it did beat the almond as the first flowering nut tree… if you could see them! And hopefully, this year, I can beat the squirrels to the nuts.

There is a lot of other growth… strawberry plants, alpine kiwi vines, black current, raspberry, and blueberry bushes. I should have just enough time left to prune the grape vines. And clean out the shed. And rebuild the garden beds (after ten years, they have finally rotted out and need replacement). Oh, and also salvage our old kitchen sink and a workbench to use as an outdoor sink / gardening workstation… you can read about that over at my wife’s blog.

Lots of work to do!