Garden update

Writers and editors, who work seated most of the time, need to move to stay in shape. We also need fresh air and sunshine!

My chief form of exercise, and one that often pushes me to the limits of my endurance, is gardening. Over the last few weekends my husband and I took almost 100 evergreen, thorny cat briar vines out of our mulberry tree. This was after trimming 1/3 of the limbs to reach the bases of the vines, because with the tree they were casting so much shade on one of my beds that all I could grow there was mushrooms. The vines were very hard to dislodge: some of them took both of us pulling, together. Were we sore afterward!

This mulberry (on the right) started out 10 years ago as a 2-ft tall bare root sapling. Note our cat Tigre posing for the camera. Note also the crawler sprinkler that I can set on the hose as a track and it will water all of the front and side with only one setup.

We love the mulberry tree, though. We’re birders and birds always come to visit when the tree is fruiting. It’s planted on the south side of the house and shades it from the fierce subtropical sun in the summer, but loses its leaves and lets us put a cold frame on the south side of the house in the winter. Here’s the one we want to get built, although ours will be longer and more steeply tilted.

Cedar Cold Frame Garden Winter Gardening image 0

As for the rest of the garden, i scooted behind the grape trellis to clear that area of excess grape and honeysuckle vines, and to remove any other weeds. We used a shovel to get the huge root balls of the invasive (in this climate) spiderwort plants. Again, this was to allow more light into the area, in this case the raised bed near the driveway that is already providing us with salad greens.

In the foreground: basil. In the background: the largest of 4 Arapaho drought-resistant thornless blackberry bushes, tied up, with pansies and strawberries at it’s feet.

We also tied up the big blackberry and were pleased that the 3 smaller blackberries are doing well. We transplanted strawberries from the old bed in the back yard and they’re doing fine. Parsley, basil, oregano, and thyme are very healthy, too.

Creeping thyme. Those are tiger lily leaves above them. Rock garden full of flowers out of sight to the left. In the spring the thyme has little violet-pink flowers which tiny mason bees especially love.
Left to right: Black-seeded Simpson leaf lettuce, kale, Jericho cos leaf lettuce.
Italian flat-leaf parsley

The 2nd raised bad back from the street also has lots of things coming up! Beets, mostly for greens, daikon radishes, fava beans, and – in the back – lots of Jerusalem artichokes.

Beet greens.
Daikon radishes. The greens are also edible.
This is our first time growing fava beans.
Those are all Jerusalem artichokes, which will crowd our anything else and therefore help keep down the weeds where it’s hard to reach They will get 3-5 ft tall and have branches of sunflower-like blooms.

This last weekend we weeded and planted the entire south-side-of-the-house bed, the one that had excessive shade until we trimmed the mulberry and took down all the vines. It’s now full of onion sets and more lettuce. Not much to see there, yet.

And we are watching our fig tree carefully as the figs are almost ripe!

Ripening brown turkey fig.

There’s more in the back yard: concord grapes along the fence, two dwarf apple trees, two dwarf pear trees, and two square foot garden beds of Egyptian walking onions. We still have to till the big raised bed in the back yard, and plant green beans, okra, and more. But that’s all for another post.