Today is wet, cold and blustery here in the Cascade foothills, but we are braving it and continuing to get the garden ready to plant this week in the hopes that we don’t have another freeze. The picture at left is meant to give you one of many creative ideas if you are bored with grass in your parking strip in the city. This is across the entire 60’ double lot in front of our Seattle (Queen Anne hill) house in the mid 90’s, a veritable field of Flanders’ poppies. As one neighbor commented back then, “It appears we aren’t in Kansas anymore, Marcia!” Annual wildflower mixes are inexpensive and can be directly sowed in spring for easy-care color and scent and will last well into late summer. The key is to prepare good soil by tilling peat moss, leaf mold and additives (and hand turn to aerate well), smoothing surface before sowing the seed. We made extra concrete walkways to allow crossing through without walking in the bed itself, although we did have the occasional “urban deer” as I called those moving too fast (joggers, kids on skateboards) to avoid tromping through. As you can see, little damage occurred and most walkers in our neighborhood went out of their way to pass by and enjoy the display.
TOO MUCH RAIN TO MOW? If the lawn is wet because you’re getting more rain than you are used to, try spraying your mower blades with vegetable oil to help keep cut grass from sticking. This will allow you to cut when grass is still slightly wet. Keeping your grass at least 3”-4” tall will keep most weeds at bay by preventing them from getting sunlight to sprout. Use a mulching mower and leave grass clippings to break down and provide healthy nitrogen (this provides about half what your lawn needs) as it breaks down. Healthy grass should be aerated and fed (composted lightly) twice a year; not doing this will promote more weeds. Remember: healthy soil/healthy plants/fewer weeds. Talk to an expert to find the best grass seed combination for your climate and soil. Reseeding should be done in the fall when you expect at least six weeks of 50-70 degree weather, the optimum temperature for grass seeds to sprout.
YOUNG FRONDS OF FIDDLEHEAD FERNS (also known as ostrich ferns) can be a delicious food. The new fronds will be lighter in color than the rest of the plant, about 2” long and 1 1/2” in diameter. Fiddleheads are safe to eat if cooked, they taste like a cross between asparagus and green beans. They can be stir-fried or steamed, but they should never be eaten raw. Cook no longer than 5 minutes for best flavor and texture.
THE MOST NUTRITIOUS GREENS to grow in your garden (or choose from your organic green grocer) are:
Arugula has a slightly peppery flavor; used in salads.
Beet – young leaves are best. Delicious lightly steamed. When
cooking the beet itself, add the leaves to the pot for extra taste
Dandelion – young leaves not exposed to pesticides are best.
Their bitter taste is excellent for digestive health.
Endive – a type of chicory that grows in a small, cone-shaped
head. Has pale leaves and is slightly bitter for salads.
Kale – My favorite garden green; choose thin stems/frilly leaves.
Stir fry, steam, add to soups and pastas . . . many uses in
Romaine lettuce – full of vitamins and minerals.
Spinach – Very high in nutrition; can be eaten raw or cooked.
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