Making a container of “fake” shamrocks
On the week during Saint Patrick’s Day, many florists and super markets feature small and medium containers of shamrocks from Ireland. You can produce your own if you have any clover growing in clumps in the garden area or lawn. Just dig up a clump and set it in a pot of potting medium and water it. Place a plate under the container to prevent it from leaking. Wrap the container in Saint Paddy’s wrap with shamrocks on it. A green candle in the container adds extra color to the pot. The shamrocks at Food Lion, Lowes, and Harris Teeter cost between $3 and $4.
An unusual green for Saint Paddy’s Day
In the Elvis Presley classic song, “Poke Salad Annie,” every day Poke Salad Annie would pick a mess of poke salad and cook it up. Poke weed is common and grows wild in most southern states, and it is edible especially in early and mid spring when leaves are tender and have no stems. My Northampton County grandma would pick tender leaves of poke salad and mix it with other garden greens and season a huge pot full with a slab of bacon. She would serve them with a cake of yellow cornbread. The “pot likker” the greens was cooked in was awesomely great with chunks of fried cornbread in it! Poke salad is great by itself without adding any other greens with it. If poke salad has gained a bad reputation, it is simply because its tiny purple berries are poisonous, but the leaves are not poisonous. The leaves do get tough as they grow larger and are only edible in early spring when leaves are tender. Best of all, they are free for the picking. “Who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch?”
Getting ready to plant Irish potatoes
Saint Patrick’s Day will arrive this week. Irish potatoes requires at least a 90-day growing season and are mostly a cool weather vegetable that reaches over into early summer around a Dog Day harvest in July. It performs well in cool weather because it is a root crop. By planting in mid-March, they will have plenty of time to produce a harvest and allow plenty of time to succeed them with a warm weather vegetable crop. Hardwares, seed and garden shops already have seed potatoes that include Red Pontiac, Yukon Gold, Irish Cobbler and Kemebec. Always set out whole seed potatoes and do not cut potatoes to divide the eyes because this may cause rot, mildew and mold as well as promote animal pests. Plant potatoes in a furrow about 7 or 8 inches deep and about 10 to 12 inches apart. Cover with a layer of peat moss and apply a layer of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Hill the soil up on both sides of the furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade. Before the potatoes sprout, cover between rows with a bed of crushed leaves. Feed every 15 days with Plant-Tone organic plant food and hill the Plant-Tone into the soil on both sides of the row. Hilling up potatoes will also give them protection and support.
Plenty of signs of spring
Spring is still a couple of weeks from now, but signs of spring are showing up all around us. The hyacinths, jonquils, and daffodils are showing up and glowing in their beds. Crows are making plenty of noise in the pines. birds are active and robins are searching the lawns for food. There is more daylight as Daylight Savings Time is with us again. Frogs are out of the hollow logs and singing their songs down by the creek bank.
A one-shot Alaska green pea harvest
One of the unusual late winter and early spring vegetables is the early June Alaska green pea. It requires no plant food because the peas themselves add nitrogen to the soil. Cold weather has no effect on them. They will produce their whole harvest in a two-week period. They have a maturity date of 52 to 60 days after sowing. You can choose from varities of Wando, Green Arrow, and Alaska. A pound will cover a 40 foot row. Sow them in a furrow about 3 or 4 inches deep and cover with a layer of peat moss and hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade.
Saint Patrick’s Day corned beef pie
As we prepare to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, a corned beef pie is a great way to celebrate the day of the Irish. This is a simple recipe that is easy to prepare. You will need one can of Libby’s corned beef, one cup diced onion, one cup diced potatoes, half cup diced carrots, four tablespoons light margarine, three large eggs (slightly beaten), half cup milk, half teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper, one cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese, one cup sour cream. Mash the can of corned beef and spread it in a nine inch pie plate and flatten it out like a pie crust. Fry onions in the margarine until tender but not brown. Spread onions over corned beef. Boil diced potatoes and carrots and spread and mix over the onions. Mix the beaten eggs, milk, sour cream, salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over the pie ingredients. sprinkle finely shredded cheddar cheese over the pie. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes until firm and set. Top with a few green stuffed olives.
The heart-shaped glossy American violet
A spring herald in the form of the heart-shaped American violet now adorns the edge of the garden and in several containers on the deck. Most of them will soon be purple and white with blooms as well as a sweet fragrance. We like them in containers because after they bloom, they spread their glossy leaves over the sides of the containers to form an umbrella like cascade of shiny leaves for several months.
Great drainage for annuals and perennials
If you have annuals and perennials that need to be transplanted into larger containers, you can provide great drainage for them by crushing a few aluminum soda drink cans and spreading them in the bottoms of containers before you fill them with potting medium. They perform well and are very light weight. They make the containers easier to move around.
The month of the lion and the lamb
In March we can experience a bit of lion-like and lamb-like weather, and a few days in between. Even some snowfall could be in the works. In speaking of the lion, the spring constellation of Leo the lion is rising each evening and is now well up on the Eastern horizon as it gets dark each evening. You can find Leo by locating the Big Dipper and then find the two stars in the end of the Dipper and follow them five times the distance between these two stars downward and you will find Leo the lion. Follow these same two stars upward five times their distance and you will find the North Star and the Little Dipper.
Adding a layer of medium to perennials
As we move closer to the first day of spring, give your perennials a new boost of energy by adding a layer of new potting medium to the top of the containers after applying a handful of Flower-Tone organic flower food.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Fruity.” A little boy showed his teacher his drawing, entitled “America the Beautiful.” In the center was a huge airliner covered with pears, apples, oranges and bananas. “What is this?” the teacher asked, pointing to the airplane. “That,” said the little boy, “is the fruited plane.”
“Caution.” His teeth are so yellow that every time he smiles in traffic all the cars slow down to see whether they should stop or go.
-If a gardener has a green thumb, who has a purple thumb? A near-sighted carpenter!
Night of the Full Worm Moon
Next Friday, March 18 will be the evening of the Full Worm Moon as it shines down on mostly bare tree limbs and a mostly cold evening. It will be silvery in color and maybe greeted by the peepers down by the creek bank or perhaps a few snow flakes which could be a possibility as we reach mid-March.