April- What's in Steve's Garden?



In My Garden (Zone 9-10)

Steve Asbell
Steve Asbell is an illustrator, the author of Plant by Numbers and blogger of The Rainforest Garden.

Pink cotton candy puffs of azaleas signal the arrival of spring for some, but in my garden it’s the overnight appearance of weeds in my vegetable beds. Surely weeding would have been easier if I had planted my vegetables in neat and easily weeded rows, but that’s what I get for trying to blend the veggie garden into the front yard landscaping. Front yard veggie gardens are great for some, but this season I’ll be growing edibles behind the fence. This new dad has limited time on his hands!
Other than pull weeds, I did still manage to do a lot of other useful things in the garden. For one thing, I’ve simplified the landscaping in the front yard by replacing my random assortment of perennials with a low-maintenance combo of Dyckia hybrids, chartreuse-leaved sedges and daylilies; all planted against a backdrop of purple ‘Little John’ azaleas and a ‘Black Magic’ ti plant. It’s nice to know that my front yard landscaping will look colorful and tidy all year long.
Since I’ve removed lots of perennials from the front yard garden, they now have a home in the back yard amongst the lemongrass, Alocasia elephant ears, Thai chili peppers, lady palms, Simpson stoppers and citrus. My eleven month-old baby watched intently as I hacked at the weeds with a hoe and magically made the beds look pretty again with a sprinkling of mulch. I renovated other beds against my patio as well, planting a pink and green coleus in front of a short screen of jasmine and native wild coffee.
I also worked on my container combinations; refreshing some, dismantling others and planting new ones as well. Royal Magenta New Guinea impatiens provided the perfect pop of color to my aqua glazed pots, especially when paired with a colorful Carex. Just for giggles, I made a small fairy house, placed it against a maple tree and surrounded it with a Lilliputian woodland garden of phlox and columbine.
I still haven’t gotten around to my warm-season veggie plantings yet, but have had plenty to harvest from my tiny parcel in the front yard. Kale, lettuce and radishes have made up the bulk of our meals while some crops didn’t fare too well. My multiplying onions, for example, were ravaged by orange and wiry maggots that resemble mealworms – wireworms perhaps? The ‘Scarlet Nantes’ carrots all bolted while the baby carrots continued to grow, which leads me to believe that I didn’t till deeply enough. Lesson learned!
Next month I’ll be scrambling to finish other garden projects before the heat is too much for my little son/garden assistant to bear. I still need to plant the side yard veggie garden and plant a mailbox garden, but think that I’ve made a lot of progress overall in the last year and a half. To think that it was all nothing but weeds!






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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • Tired of your yard being used as a shortcut? Had enough of deer and neighborhood pets inviting themselves into your garden? Plants with prickly leaves or thorns are very useful in the landscape as barrier plants. Barberry, pyracantha, holly, yucca, cotoneaster, juniper, mahonia, and landscape roses are both ornamental and good deterrents. Planted as hedges at the perimeter of the property, they discourage anyone or anything from wandering into your yard.