In light of the current situation in Japan, March in Cleveland doesn’t seem so bad. The recent flooding we’ve been dealing with feels small compared to a tsunami. We did get a foot of snow a few days ago, which melted 24 hours later. Today was sunny, but cold, but it will be in the 50s by the end of the week. Welcome to March in Cleveland.
March is a great time to think about the garden. Yes, I’ve been enjoying my baking, and I’ll have more baking and cooking posts soon, but it is nice to step outside and dream about what spring will bring. My daffodils are sprouting and so are the irises. All signs that the snow has to stop falling eventually.
Today was an especially good day to reflect on the coming spring, and all my aspirations for an edible yard. I spent a bit of time hacking away a the last of the overgrowth in my yard while my little one played in the sandbox. We moved into our house, which sits on an average sized city lot, just a little over 3 years ago. We bought the house in winter and had no way of assessing the vegetation, until the spring, when we were first delighted by all the flowers and things that were budding, and then overwhelmed by vines and how big, weedy, and overgrown everything was. We moved in when I was pregnant, and I spent every morning between mid-March and early June pulling weeds and hacking at overgrowth. Then I had a baby and didn’t touch the yard again until the following spring, but I was writing a dissertation, so honestly, not much got done that year too. Then I graduated and my baby was more of a toddler, so dealing with the overgrowth could begin. I spent every evening last summer pulling out ivy, relics from past owners, Rose of Sharon trees, and other out of control plants.
The overgrowth did reveal a few hidden treasures. Once we hacked away at the glossy buckthorn, we found a high bush blueberry bush that was amazing. LM’s sandbox is right under it, so we nibbled blueberries all summer while playing in the sand. We also found a cherry tree, that sadly, needed to find a new home. Once we got some of the worst of our creeping weeds out of the way we discovered purslane and wood sorrel, edible “weeds” we were happy to encourage as edible ground cover in the flower beds (beats that frustrating creeping Charlie!). As we opened up the tight corners of our yard, the corner with overgrown forsythia, which I had been hacking away with from the start, rewarded that hard work by revealing what we thought was an ornimental quince tree actually could bear fruit. We had lots of quince last fall. The tree just needed the forsythia out of the way. It was that very corner I was working in today. I spent most of February cutting down those forsythia bushes keeping them at bay is just too hard, and we have 3 more forsythia bushes in the yard anyway. This year the quince will have a properly opened space, which I hope will make up for the fact that it was planted in the completely wrong place for its light requirements. I will also put in a yard waste compost pile in part of that corner. I am so excited to be starting a compost pile.
My daydreams for the 2011 Garden?
- We are currently assessing the weed beds that are in the shade. I think we’re going to build a raised bed for shade plants and put the rest of the area into a moss ground cover. I’m considering a moss patio as well. (See You Bet Your Garden for an example. Their podcasts have even more information).
- I’ve decided to spread out the violets growing in my back yard to encourage a more consistent covering of the yard. We will keep plain grass in the front yard, but we will encourage our back yard to be a larger mix of wood violet. I want enough to have on salads, and to make violet jelly, like my foraging friends do. Wood violets only grow to be about 4 inches high, so if I can get all the other plants that grow taller than that out of the yard, I might not have to mow the backyard at all.
- I’ve been reading Lee Reich’s Uncommon Fruits, which has me considering what our planting plan will look like once I’m done clearing out the weeds and overgrowth. I want to read his more recent Landscaping with Fruit. We like the idea of adding in fruit to the landscape (mainly showy, and native plants). We have a subscription to a community supported agriculture group, so we don’t need a veggie garden, but it is wonderful to have fresh fruit in the yard in the summer.
How about you? Any garden plans this Summer? Don’t worry. Spring really is coming. Before you know it we will be up to our eyeballs in zucchini.