April 15, 2012

Maine Gardener: Season starts with ideas, ambition ... and caution


(Continued from page 1)

I really care only about the tomatoes and peppers. I decided a few years ago that we have just as good luck direct-seeding squash, cucumbers and melons. But we will be buying our tomato and pepper seedlings at farmers markets or farm stands, and I am hoping we can find all the varieties we want. And if it all works out, we might do away with our seedling setup permanently.

We have also begun some renovations in our ornamental gardens. We had some switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) near a small garden pond in our backyard, and it was taking over. We dug that up and moved it to an area at the edge of our property where we had cleared out a bunch of invasive plants. The switchgrass is pretty aggressive and native, so it will be nice if it takes over that area.

So the garden season is off to a good start. But I am still worried. Two years ago, we had another very early spring. A lot of ornamental shrubs, strawberries and apples blossomed early.

And from May 10 to 12 that year, the state received a hard frost, causing a lot of damage to flowers and crops.

I am hoping that doesn't happen this year.

Tom Atwell has been writing the Maine Gardener column since 2004. He is a freelance writer who gardens in Cape Elizabeth, and can be contacted at 767-2297 or at: tomatwell@me.com


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