The Gardens

It is mid April, now. Don’t put a lot of meaning into that as far as Iowa weather is concerned; Southern Iowa, in particular, is quite fickle. Planting zones generally classify Iowa as a zone 4. In reality, it is zone 2-6.

This spring is well behaved. The flower gardens are poking herbaceous noses through the soil – causing the mariner to think hard about whether or not he planted it and what is its name. This year the mariner built a table with grow lights for starting the annuals. Being warned about the probable rise in vegetable prices, the mariner plans to plant a full array of vegetable families from potatoes, shallots and beets to six different herbs, tomatoes, garlic, spinach, squash and some others he doesn’t remember. Does anyone remember “canning”?

The mariner knows gardeners who can name every plant, how many leaves it has, when it blooms, when it’s ripe and know the vagaries of fertilizers and watering schedules. All this is kept in ledgers. He is proud of these gardeners because they go the extra mile to turn their garden into a reason to engage in bookkeeping. Alas, the mariner is no bookkeeper. If he were, he would be fired.

The mariner takes the intuitive route. Some sweet yellow banana peppers with onions seems tasty. So he started several pots of banana peppers under the grow lights. Rhubarb always is a treat so it has a permanent place in the flower garden. Same with potatoes; they’re in the flower garden, too.

The apple and cherry trees are in full bloom. They give nice color to the back yard. The redbud looks better every year.

Last year, the mariner’s brother-in-law gave him an odd and somewhat flimsy plant that didn’t seem to be something one would notice among larger plants and flowers. Surprisingly, by autumn’s end, it had spread itself daintily among the roses, irises and marigolds that were near it. The mariner was pleased it took the Iowa winter in stride and this year already is spreading small dainty leaves. Even though the flowers also are small and dainty, they catch one’s eye (Indian feather plant (Gaura lindheimeri)).

In about three weeks, when all the desired plants have gained height and presence, the mariner will take on the task of hands-on cleaning of the gardens. No weed bothers him as much as Creeping Charlie! Every other weed seems more civil than Creeping Charlie. Then there are the rabbits; he mentioned that in another post. Putting up the fence is the next task as spring takes over. Just a reminder: the last frost date is May 8th. Cross your fingers, count your beads and do a good deed. Buy a voodoo doll – maybe we’ll make it.

Ancient mariner