WELCOME TO MAY
What an unusual spring. Many plants are arriving a bit late to the party this year. If young leaves were burned during those freezing days in April, in most cases the plants will push out replacement leaves which will cause the damaged leaves to drop. Just be patient.
If the weather all of a sudden turns warm, the plants will be experiencing stress and will need more water. A good rule of thumb is a 20 degree change in temperature is significant enough to cause stress. During the growing season, try to give your plants water 3x/week if at all possible. Just do the best you can. Remember a long, slow, steady soak is much better than a quick burst.
Now, is the perfect time to divide and spread out many of the perennials. Frequently, it’s as easy as placing the shovel where you want to cut the plant, and dig straight down. The mother plant stays put, and the baby plant will be given a new home. Rule of Thumb…do not change the depth of the root mass, and soak immediately to remove the unwanted air pockets.
DO…spread Holly-Tone within the drip edge of all your BROADLEAF EVERGREENS, and other acid-loving plants. It’s not too late.
DO…spread Plant-Tone within the drip edge of all other plants, but I usually limit myself to a liberal broadcast among all of my PERENNIALS. It’s not too late.
DO lay out protective rings of DIATOMACEOUS EARTH to protect large leaved perennials from slugs. Hopefully, I’ll get around to these chores soon.
ANNUALS…Now you can buy your annuals. Try something different this year. Experiment. You can always change it later. Feeding your plants once a week can make a huge difference in the performance. Miracle Gro, Peter’s Plant Food or Jack’s Classic Plant Food are options. If you use a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote, then you may only need to apply 1x/month or less.
SPRING FLOWERING PLANTS…Your Helleborus should be dead headed to minimize the number of volunteer seedlings. Many of their seed pods are plump and ready to explode. Spring flowering bulbs will benefit if you remove the spent flowers and allow the foliage to remain until it turns brown.
GARDEN TOURS…Do you enjoy visiting private gardens? May and June is the best time to see most Maryland gardens. The Horticultural Society of Maryland has its annual tour on Sunday, June 5, 201– 10am – 4pm. Tour Roland Park, Guilford and Tuscany-Canterbury. Go to www.mdhorticulture.org for further information. This event is a fundraiser for the Horticultural Society of Maryland.
POISON IVY…Poison Ivy has leafed out, and it is everywhere. At least now we have a fighting chance to avoid it. Please take precautions when in the vicinity of this irritating plant.
EDIBLE FIDDLEHEAD FERNS – who knew?
While listening to WYPR, I stumbled upon a conversation with Chef Cindy Wolf, the co-owner of The Charleston Restaurant, plus several others. Her discussion of preparing Fiddlehead Ferns intrigued me, so I decided to do a bit of hunting. Many of us have ferns in our gardens, but do we think to eat them? Below are comments from www.foragersharvest.com.
There are three main species of edible ferns in North America: ostrich fern Matteucia struthiopteris, lady fern Athyrium filix-femina, and bracken fern Pteridium aquilinum. All of them are widespread and, in certain areas, abundant. For each of these species the part gathered and eaten is the young, tender shoot (called fiddleheads due to the curled tips, which resemble the top of a fiddle) found in spring and early summer. The mature fronds of all of these ferns should not be eaten.
Of course, you’re looking for fiddleheads, not full-grown fronds. The fiddlehead stalks are smooth and naked of any scales or wool, but the coiled tops are full of brown papery flakes. The top side of the stalk (or, the part facing the center of the rosette) has a deep, U-shaped trough running its entire length – this is an important feature to look for.
Gather the fiddleheads in mid to late spring; they’ll be too old by the time the leaves are fully formed on the sugar maples and oaks. Harvest them when they are eight to twenty inches tall – as long as they are still tender and the leafy portion of the frond is not yet unfurled. Usually the bottom quarter or so of the stalk is too tough to eat; in time you’ll get the hang of knowing where to break them off. You don’t have to cut the fiddleheads; when bent they should snap off cleanly.
Simply boiled or steamed and served with butter like asparagus they are superb. Ostrich fern shoots are crisp and sweet when raw and make a pleasant addition to salads or can be just nibbled on a hike through the woods. However, they should not be eaten in large quantities raw.
For comments on the other ferns, go to the website, www.foragersharvest.com.
This tidbit may come too late for this year, but do give it a try next year.