Food, Fragrance, Flowers…Fabulous!

Food, Fragrance, Flowers…Fabulous!

It’s VEGGIE WEEK! Every year, the week after Mother’s Day, we get in a giant shipment of organic veggie seedlings. We start in late fall and early winter contracting with our organic growers, choosing varieties, sending them seed, and honing our choices. We are super excited about the wide range of wonderful tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, tomatillos, and more that are arriving

I used biochar when planting my early spring vegetables such as peas, lettuce, celeraic, escarole, and parsley. You should SEE them, they are so lush and healthy.

this week and next week and the week after… True to form, this week it has turned quite cool. The monsoon season continues. There’s even a chance of frost (for the first time in WEEKS) on the very night the massive load of veggie plants arrive. Sigh. I am actually not surprised, as I have always said that the full moon in May brings on this kind of weather- and that full moon is this Saturday. You may know that I garden by the moon phases and my calendar actually says it’s a great time to plant tomato plants specifically on Thursday and Friday. I will be buying all my plants this weekend because the 

I add a lot of Cocodelphia (shredded coir, coconut fiber) to my native clay soil to lighten it and increase drainage

selection will be the best, but I may not be able to plant them right away as I like it to warm up more and I still have to amend my raised beds after they were rebuilt and lots of heavy clay garden soil was added. While I add biochar and Cocodelphia and compost and organic fertilizer, my tomatoes and other warm season crops will be waiting in the wings in the holding area by my driveway. Basil? Yes, it’s coming in, but it’s staying in our greenhouse. It can’t go out when the night temperatures dip too low. 

This is a scene from our raised bed by the back door. The cool crops, such as the mustard, spinach, and lettuce are growing really fast. I love the sign my staff put inside the tomato cage: “Tomato to go here, coming May 15th”. See the pea foliage in the back? It needs nitrogen, which has leached out from all the rain. 

To celebrate Veggie Week at Natureworks, this Thursday night on Facebook Live I will demonstrate planting tomatoes in Smart Pots using our wonderful, new Coast of Maine raised bed blend, organic fertilizer, and our heavy duty tomato cages. I will also talk some of the newest varieties that are appearing daily- my goal is to get you to grow something NEW this year! 

The tomatoes are coming! The tomatoes are coming! This week!
Peppers too!

Lots of rain mean lots of pest problems are really beginning to take off in our gardens. In the article below, I explain how to scout for pests, what to be on the look out for this week, and some important organic controls to consider. 

 
Rain also brings mosquitoes. The mild winter combined with the rainy spring has meant deer ticks are everywhere. I usually don’t get bitten, but this year I

Try Murphy’s Naturals insect repellent and herbal incense. New and made in America by a woman-owned company.

have had three deer ticks imbedded in me already. For mosquitoes, be sure to use BT bits, tiny granuals of Bacillus thuringiensis, a totally safe, biological control that kills breeding mosquito larve in bird baths, water gardens, anywhere water is standing (like my lower back lawn.)  To protect yourself, we are now carrying a new product, made in America, developed by a female owned company: Murphy’s Naturals. Their dog’s name is Murphy and they named it after him. We carry a lemon/eucalyptus oil spray which is surprisingly nice to apply and smells lovely. We also are carrying their line of incense sticks. When I lived at the beach in Guilford (a.k.a. mosquito heaven)  I would light herbal incense and place it all around where I was gardening. 

The hummingbirds are truly here. I watched them at our feeder on Saturday and enjoyed seeing them discovering all of the wonderful nectar flowers we have just for them. This week they are visiting azaleas, fuchsias, columbines, Salvias (both annual and perennial), Silene, Ajuga blossoms, single Dianthus, early Phloxes of all sorts, Pulmonarias and the Lantanas and Verbenas that are blooming early on our benches. 
Hummingbirds not only love to nectar on azaleas, they will also go to these beautiful dwarf ‘Windbeam’ rhododendron flowers. The blue columbine below is an added attraction. This is a classic May combination, so lovely. 

If you like unusual plants, right now is prime time to take a road trip and visit Natureworks. I couldn’t even begin to tell you about all the cool plants we have

Look closely at this plant. What’s cooler, the square buds or the flowers? How about those leaves? Do you know what this is? Come find out!

in stock. Probably the most interesting collection ever. Even my staff is totally intrigued as they need to learn about a LOT of new plants. Aha! That is my goal, I love it when we all learn together. For a sneak peak, read the second article below this letter. But really, just come in and see for yourself. There are so many plants that you never knew existed that you will suddenly HAVE to have! 

 
Fragrance? Mid May is one of the most fragrant weeks in the year in my garden. When my Viburnum carlcephalum blooms, I can smell it from the minute I step out of my car. My Scotch broom is about to flower, the mounds of Phlox 

It may be hard to believe when you first plant these shrubs, but fragrant Viburnums can perfume your entire yard.

divaricata are in full bloom, even my “winter” honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima shrub, continues to flower because of this cool weather. The late daffodils like ‘Cheerfulness’ and ‘Geranium’ are the sweetest and they are coming into bloom this week as well. Oh for a sunny day to enjoy it all. It’s coming, very soon, this weekend! 

 
Finally, be careful as you walk around your gardens right now, the milkweed and other forms of Asclepias are finally emerging from the ground. They are late sprouters, but they are UP! That means that it’s time to start planting Asclepias plants. I can’t 

Milkweed and all forms of Asclepias are sprouting. Here it comes in Veggie Island with a giant rhubarb plant behind it. Watch where you step!

believe how much mine have spread since last year. I am thrilled! I took home Asclepias speciosa, the showy milkweed, last Saturday because the plants were huge and I was afraid we would sell out of the very special, pretty species. I am seeing a smattering of butterflies, mostly the earliest ones such as the swallowtails that overwinter as chrysalises in CT and a few others. No monarchs yet, but it’s never too early to get ready. Make sure you have plenty of fennel, dill, parsley, and our wonderful native wildflower Zizia planted in your yard as many swallowtails love plants with umbrella shaped flowers. So do the beneficial insects, and we sure are going to need them as this season heats up and every creature begins to grow and multiply.

Whether you are growing escarole, Swiss chard, lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, or anything else edible, let us guide you and teach you how to have your best organic garden ever!
We are open Thursday evening till 7. Hint. Hint. That would be a great time to come in and shop our new veggie plants before the weekend. But the weekend will be fun too. On Saturday, I will park myself in our Incredible Edibles Department and be The Answer Nan. I will be there all day just to answer your questions. On Sunday, some of the other edible experts on my staff will take my place in the answer booth. We are here to teach you and help you. We want you to have the best organic gardens ever. 
 
I look forward to seeing you very soon…
 
In our new shade garden, the Phlox stolonifera ‘Sherwood Purple is in full bloom. It is intermingling with Smilacina, Lamium, and feverfew. Come visit and take a look!
 
 
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P.S. Remember a few weeks ago when I was talking about great groundcovers? When you come and visit, you must stroll down to our new shade garden and admire the huge patch of Phlox stolonifera ‘Sherwood Purple’. This variety is a rock star