Despite the wildly fluctuating weather (80 one day, 60 the next) the plants in Upstate New York are starting to grow!
Let me give you a tour around the 1/3 acre Frugal Upstate Village Homestead and I’ll show you “How’s it Growin?”!
Let’s start around the front porch! While that yellow green plant (who’s name I always forget) is an evergreen the little azalea bush behind it is not. I was surprised to see it blooming already, but the porch provides a windbreak and the driveway right next to it provides heat which must make a good microclimate for it!
Along the front of the porch you can see the 4 big hostas starting to come up and unfurl their leaves. I actually need to dig those up and chunk them in half for replanting-they are starting to shade out the small Stella d’Oro Daylilies that I have planted in between each one (that’s the small green spiky stuff). Aparently I forgot to go around the corner and take pictures of the little red sprouts of my peonies that are poking up between the hostas there. I just love perennial landscaping-makes my life easy!
Along the front walk and scattered in the lawn I can see the first violets of spring popping up! Violets are not only pretty, they are edible and medicinal. The leaves and flowers can be eaten in salads, you can sugar the blooms or make violet syrup (although it takes a LOT of blooms).
As I head around the back of the house I come to my mostly containered herb garden that is right by the back door and in the nice microclimate provided by the driveway and the house. Many herbs like warmer conditions, so this works well. The chives as you can see have gotten even bigger since my update last week on the return of the early spring perennials. Ditto for the lovage, which has grown about 6 inches in a week. The Egyptian walking onions continue to look lush and happy in their pot.The sage that is not supposed to be perennial in my zone continues to put out more and more leaves on the tips. Yay!
Against all odds I managed to kill off my mint last year. Which is bizzare because it is usually so invasive and pervasive that I planted it in pots to make sure it didn’t take over my garden! Last year I planted regular mint in one pot, lemon balm (which is a mint relative) in a second and spearmint in a third. The spearmint is showing signs of life-but nothing for the other two so far.
The rhubarb is more than just leaves now-there is some red stalk showing. It’s amazing to see how much growth there is in just a week! My dear sweet Mother in Law has already pilfered enough to make me my favorite-a rhubarb pie. Mmm. It was GOOD.
Now on to a few experimental items. Last fall I started a few plants to see if I could get a fall harvest. I waited to late and things weren’t very big before the weather turned. I used some of it, but then I decided to leave a few things over the winter and see if they would start growing again in the spring.
The turnips never did produce bulbs, just greens-which are tasty. Up till last week they still looked perfect, but with the warm weather they have since thrown up those long stalks and started flowering. Likewise the Tatsoi, which usually looks like a rosette of leaves low to the ground, looked like it might put on some size and be edible, but again a bout of warm weather for a few days threw it into chaos and it decided it was time to flower.
The lone Kale that the bunnies didn’t eat (I planted about 8-1 survived) was so tiny in the fall that I just left it. It has sprung back and about doubled in size. Luckily it doesn’t seem to be in the same hurry as the turnips and tatsoi to reproduce-no flowering or anything. I might be able to make Kale chips out of this one!
This is, believe it or not, a brussel sprout plant. The sprouts form at the junction of the leaves. While 2 of the plants produced tasty sprouts, a couple were still so small that I decided to let them grow & see what happened in the spring.
The leeks I tried for the first time last year never really seemed to put on any growth. So I figured what the heck-I just gave them a thick layer of leaf mulch and left them for the winter. Viola-that one seems to be a success-they are thickening up nicely. I can’t wait to try some home grown leek pie.
I planted peas very early this year. These are the actual shelling peas that I planted in the garden against our shed. These are the snow peas (like the ones you get in a stirfry) I started these about a week after the shelling peas in the big garden-and it shows! They are a bit smaller right now, but they will grow!My huge row of fall planted garlic is growing. I planted an organic long keeping braidable garlic that I ordered online for about 2/3 of the row. The last 1/3 I just bought organic garlic at Walmart, split the cloves apart and stuck them in the ground. I’m looking forward to this crop-I LOVE garlic and use it all the time in my cooking.
This little leafy plant is horseradish! We have 3 of them that hubs dug up roots from his mom’s house for. That’s actually way more horseradish than any reasonable family will eat, but hey-we’ve got the room.
This tangle of canes are my black raspberries. I need to increase and improve this plot. Raspberries are my absolute, no holds barred favorite fruit.These little green plants coming up are a perennial known as “Bee Balm”. It’s other name is “Oswego Tea”–yes, it was actually shared by the local Oswego Indians with the early settlers as a substitute for tea. Last year I grew the flowers from nursery plants-but I didn’t pick any. I wanted the patch to get a bit bigger. This year I’m very interested to try the leaves in tea-they are supposed to have a citrus-y taste.
Lastly is knotweed. This stuff is an invasive pain in the butt–but it is edible and it does have “reservitol” in it which some folks say is wonderful. They compare the taste to rhubarb, but honestly I don’t see it. I’ll probably just continue to try to eradicate this plot so it doesn’t keep spreading.
In addition to the things I’ve photographed, of course we still have the garlic mustard (wild) and dandelion greens (wild) popping up.
Soon I expect to see pokeweed, wild grapes, wild blackberries, sumac seedlings and the wild “ditch lilys” that are on the edges pop up as well! Those are all edible (although I haven’t tried all of them-pokeweed has to be boiled in 3 changes of water or else it is poisonous-ack! I’ve been meaning to try daylily for a few years, and I didn’t find out that sumac shoots were edible until last fall-too late to try them)
What do you have growing at your place?