Thursday, February 28, 2013

What’s blooming in your garden?

Purple deadnettle
Plants were blooming in our vegetable garden in the sunshine and 48°F temperature this morning, but the blooms weren’t of some prized edible that had survived our frigid winter.  Not surprisingly the blooms were on what we call “winter weeds.”

Winter weeds are those that sprout in the fall or late winter and grow, bloom, and go to seed rapidly as late-winter temperatures rise.  The two I saw blooming today are purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum) and lesser-seeded bittercress (Cardamine oligosperma).

The blooming deadnettle and bittercress mean that each plant will be dropping scores, perhaps hundreds, of seeds in a couple of weeks unless I get out my weeding hoe and do some serious decapitation or uprooting.  I was tempted to run for my hoe this morning, but an overnight shower had left the garden soil too sticky to easily fall from weed roots, so I’ve put “Hoe winter weeds” on my mental to-do list for a relatively “dry day” early next week.


Lesser-seeded bittercress
I’ll be sorry if I don’t remember to hoe the flowering weeds.  This time next year my Aching Back will remind me that a weed not hoed today means 10 or 100 weeds to hoe next year.

Since my veggie patch was too wet to weed today, I grabbed my loppers and cut back the butterfly bushes (Buddleja davidii) in our front yard.  Butterfly bushes bloom on new growth each year, so I cut last year’s branches back to about 12 inches from the ground.  They look pretty abused right now, but by June new branches will be four feet high with pink flowers attracting scores of butterflies.

If you’ve been thinking about pruning your flowering shrubs, you may benefit from “Hedge your bets at pruning time,” by Adrian Higgins, in today’s Washington Post.  Higgins lists more than a dozen flowering shrubs and recommends when and how to prune them.

And, I almost forgot to add this tip: If you washed your bib jeans and hung them in the garage as I did in December, give them a vigorous shake or two before you put them on.  I did, and about 15 cold-numbed brown marmorated stink bugs tumbled to the garage floor.  Close call.

3 comments:

  1. Good advice on the weeds and pruning Bob. My major winter weed problem is chickweed.

    Mike Raupp has been saying that he expects the BMSB problem to be about the same as it was in 2010, which was pretty bad at my garden. I'll start looking for overwintering BMSBs in my shed in the next week or two. They hide everywhere. In the row cover I've saved from last year, under baskets and anywhere that semi ptotected.

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  2. Yes, the BMSBs seem to be everywhere I look, Kent. I turned over a flat piece of bark in our woods the other day and found about 10 there. It may be my imagination, but they seem larger this year. I hope that's my imagination!

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  3. What's blooming in my VA garden? I'm beginning to reap the rewards of wintersowing in plastic milk jugs and soda liters. So far I've got bachelor button seedlings along with mustard green, turnip, radish, and mesclun lettuce. Highly recommend this method of sowing veggies and flower seeds!

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