Plants display true grit

By Jennie Hagen June 28, 2011 07:13 pm

Despite the cool and wet conditions we have all been experiencing, the tenacity garden plants display is inspiring.

We finally planted lettuce and spinach a couple of weeks ago. We left areas unplanted to sow successive crops about two weeks apart to ensure a fresh and continual crop until late fall. Most lettuce and spinach can survive slight frosts. If left to go to seed, many lettuce and spinach types grown in our area will readily reseed themselves and sprout early next spring, or you can do what several area gardeners do and simply sow your seed in late fall, apply a thin layer of mulch, and wait to see early greens in the spring. While not fool-proof, even some success using this method can be encouraging with early crops after a long winter.

If you are still procrastinating putting any vegetable or fruit starts outside until the weather warms up, please don’t. Your plants will adjust and grow despite what we feel are not ideal conditions. I’ve heard from several readers who are waiting and as late as it is in the year, it’s advisable to just go for it and hope for the best.

Another example of tenacity can be readily observed in our fruit trees. Cherry trees in Cove are simply covered with fruit. Yes, the crop will be later, but at least there will be a crop.

Our own peach trees, while blooming this spring, did not have one single day that it didn’t rain, yet they have ample fruit set. Same for the plum trees, yet they are smothered in fruit. I can only conclude they must be self-pollinating, something you may want to keep in mind when selecting varieties for your own garden. We never expected one single fruit to appear and are pleasantly surprised.

This spring has also encouraged plant diseases to unfold with a vengeance. If you think your trees look “odd” or not their usual beautiful self, please get a tree expert to pay you a home visit and help diagnosis your problem if you are unable to. Many routine plant diseases are readily treatable with non-toxic sprays or systemic applications. Some home remedies work well, also. The key point to recall is that you need to be vigilant and not allow disease to spread if at all possible. There are several qualified individuals and companies in our area that provide this service. One way to locate them is through ads in The Observer, or by calling the City of La Grande.

The plight of the common honey bee has made headlines just about everywhere. A simple act of kindness on the part of each of us, by not growing plants that do not provide pollen, may assist them in even a small way with their survival. Take the common but beautiful sunflower. Many interesting and unusual types of colors have appeared on the market in the past several years with advertisements supporting “pollen-free” blooms. Who wants a messy bouquet, right? Well I do, and most of my readers do, too. Simply refuse to buy seed for pollen-free varieties. It’s as easy as that.

I am unable to provide an evaluation of the newest nursery on Island Avenue for press this week as they are not open on Sundays, a day many of us finally have time for perusing plant stores.

Until the next issue, go dig in the dirt. You’ll feel better.


Jennie Lu Hagen is a La Grande gardener.