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Getting grass to grow in the shade is a common complaint of gardeners. In many cases some other kind of ground cover might be the solution. Most ground cover plants will spread out over or in the soil, producing new plants as they grow.
Ajuga reptans (Bugle Weed) is one of the easiest and most reliable ground cover plants to grow. It readily spreads by stolons that grow along the surface of the ground producing new plantlets that root down and expand their colony of plants. The common name of bugle weed comes from the appearance of the blue tubular flowers that are borne around the nodes on the 6 to 8” stems in June. There are several cultivars that have foliage in plain green, burgundy green or variegated with white and pink.
Cantaloupe and honeydew are familiar to most of us, but there are a wide variety of other melons available to gardeners. Seed catalogues offer everything from heirlooms with names we may never have heard of, such as Casaba or Charentais, to new hybrid crosses between the more familiar, such as cantaloupe with honeydew.
There are a number of weeds that pop up very early in the spring and even start flowering before most other plants have shown any signs of growth. Most of these are spring or winter annuals that come back from seed each year. Spring annuals germinate early in the spring while winter annuals actually germinate during the previous fall, overwinter then resume growth the following spring, flower and die. In most cases, these cool season weeds are more prevalent in waste areas, growing on bare soil.
Quackgrass and bromegrass are often two of the worst weeds in perennial flower gardens and in perennial vegetables like asparagus. Kentucky bluegrass and other lawn grasses can also be a problem. Perennial broadleaf weeds are also other common weeds among flowers and perennial vegetables. They are both aggressive plants that can grow among other plants so tightly that it is difficult to get them out. In addition, plants like quackgrass, bromegrass, creeping jenny and others produce creeping, underground stems called rhizomes that allow the plant to spread a foot or more in a season, producing new plants as they grow.
There is always something to do in a garden – some pruning, raking, weeding or just checking on things to see what new is blooming or growing. This is also the time for the uncovering of old plants and planting new ones. Planting using bare root plants is a great way to get plants at an economical price and probably find some of those special plants that are just not available from your local garden center or discount outlet store. Now is the time when all those beautiful plants are on display and available, and you just want to buy one of everything! However, you should do some things before you head off to the garden center.
Every so often we hear about people getting sick from eating raw produce that got contaminated somewhere on its path from the field to the consumer. Commercial growers are taking great care to keep your food safe, and there are new national rules to guide them. Following are some tips for home gardeners to help keep their fruits and vegetables safe.
Peas are one of the first vegetables to be planted in the spring, as they enjoy cooler weather. Few things beat the taste of fresh peas right from the garden – lightly cooked or even raw! Peas are good for you too, with low calories and fat, healthy fiber, Vitamins K, A, B, and C, zinc, copper, calcium, iron, and potassium, all with a low glycemic index. Peas have been domesticated for a very long time; they were found in an archaeological site in Switzerland dating 9000 years ago.
As the name implies, micro-greens are grown only for a short time before they are harvested, usually only for about three weeks! In addition, they don’t take up a lot of room or need a fully functioning greenhouse to grow them. You can grow them on a sunny windowsill or with supplemental lights. They can be grown in ordinary flowerpots or more commonly in the typical open 1020 greenhouse flats that you will see in your local garden center holding cell packs in the spring.
Every once in a while, someone will ask me if they can still force their spring-flowering bulbs. Unfortunately, it is likely too late to try to force bulbs like tulips, daffodils, hyacinth etc. which should have been potted up last fall or planted out in the garden. Theses cold-hardy bulbs need to go through a rooting phase, right after planting, and then a vernalization period of nine to 12 weeks before they will flower. If you still have some of these bulbs, they are likely not any good now since they have probably dried out and died.