April Showers (Hail) Bring May Flowers?



Woke this morning to the sound of thunder…..  actually it was hail.  Hard driving rain and little balls of icy hail roaring down on the roof and tapping on my windows.  So there go the daffodils, and spinach. 

Have had the usual erratic Wisconsin weather this spring – warm and then freezing, hot and dry and then soaked.  I was smugly congratulating myself on planting garlic bulbs and bare root perennial iris, astilbe, peony, Astrantia and geranium yesterday in the sunny 70 degree weather and having a nice rain water them all in. 

Today I’m wondering if they will float away or drown????  My lovely spinach made it though unscathed – yeah! We ate some for Easter dinner and it was so good and fresh!  There is a lot more left for friends.  I will go out later and harvest

So spinach is up and very edible.  Lettuce, kale, peas, onion sets, calendula , cilantro, seeds are poking out of the soil.  How to keep rabbits from nibbling pea seedlings.  Blood meal might work.  Devadog doesn’t like to go out in the rain or get her paws wet so she won’t be enough rabbit deterrent.  Kicked doggie girlfriend out this morning for awhile but she wouldn’t stay out to look for rabbits or squirrels.

In the meantime I’m crazy busy with school and Earth Day event coming up April 24.  The end of the semester is only about 4 weeks away so all the end of the semester projects, exams, and catch up is bearing down on us.  Trying hard to retain low scoring students by allowing make up work but you can lead a horse to water…..

Also trying to sell plants as a fundraiser for my son to go to boy scout camp.  Sales at farmers market were quite good this past week considering it poured rain.  Perfect planting weather but a lot of people don’t realize that.  Also started trying to sell plants on Ebay and Etsy.  I love to sell and talk about plants so hoping this might work.  Also ended up buying a lot more of some plants than I thought…need to sell some or I will have a huge astilbe and iris garden!  Yikes!  I’ve never bought or sold on Ebay so will have to see how it goes.

This is a peony root that I have for sale. Such nice big plants from bare root.   Bare root plants are wonderful because they are a lot cheaper than plants in pots.  Why pay for soil when what you want is the plant.  This peony root is selling for $5.  If I pot it or try to buy it later when plant is growing it will cost about $10 – $15.  Most perennial plants in pots will cost about $6-7 each.  I can sell them bare root for about half that.  So if you want a lot fo plants for the best price buy them now – bare root.  I don’t have time to do much marketing and spread the word about how great this method is but hopefully in the future can do more. 

From left to right – peony, geranium, astilbe and iris

Bare root plants will grow a lot of roots the first season.  The top will grow and the plant will flower but not as much as in following years.  I have some Monarda I planted last year and it was kind of spindly and sad last summer.  But not this year! Look at what’s coming up in th eimage below. I looked this weekend and it has spread to cover a patch about 3′ x 5′ so I will have some brilliant flowers this summer. 

Monarda emerging in spring.  I have three patches about 3 x 5′ from last year’s planting

The secret to good bare root estbalishment is 1. don’t plant too deep and 2. make sure water is consistent but not soaking the first summer.  The roots are about 6-10″ long and include a crown with buds just visible and a root portion.  Its also nice becauseyou don’t have to dig a huge hole.  Soak the roots in a bucket of water for 15-20 minutes to get them well hydrated.  Spread the roots around the planting hole and cover so the buds are just sticking out of the soil.  I plant mine very shallow and use wood chip mulch to cover the crown area.  Water them in well and then check over the next few weeks.  If it rains, don’t water.  If the soil is heavy with clay and chunky, hold back on watering.  There will probably be enough water held in the soil.  The roots need air as much as water so don’t overwater.  If you live in a humid climate like Wiscosnin (greater than 30″ of rain a year and a lot of it in spring) you may not have to water them at all.

Here is my poor iris after a night of rain and hail – loving it!.  Its hard to see but I’ve plante dit very shallow  as the soil here is so heavy and dense with clay.  I’ve covered the exposed crown with wood chips to keep moist – no problem with that today!  We are soaked and it looks like more on the way this week


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