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What's happening in your yard and garden this week?

So, how is everybody's yard and garden doing this week?

Here's my report:

In the veggie garden, where flowers and herbs are interplanted with vegetables, there's a lot of blooming going on.

The coral honeysuckle is in bloom on the entry arbor, the poppies are blooming in the flower border and several different varieties of beans (5 varieties of bush beans plus the common Scarlet Runner Bean and the less common Insuk's Wang Kong) have begun blooming. The potatoes are forming flowers but still are a day or two away from blooming. Other flowers in bloom in the garden include sweet alyssum, zinnias, violas, dianthus, 'Exserta' petunias, and Linaria 'Rhythm and Blues'. Penstemmon 'Red Riding Hood' and autumn sage also are blooming. Among the herbs, only chamomile and comfrey are in bloom presently. Tomatoes are blooming and setting fruit and it is looking like it will be a great tomato year (knock on wood). We're already harvested three ripe cherry tomatoes but I don't think we'll harvest any full-sized tomatoes until sometime in May. This year's cool spring temperatures really have kept the early fruit, except for the cherry tomatoes, from growing quickly.

In the pest world, I found the first cabbage loopers on a few cabbage plants yesterday and promptly dropped what I was doing to handpick them and drop them into a bowl of soapy water to drown. I prefer hand-picking to spraying, so will continue to scout the cabbage plants for caterpillars over the next few days. The cabbage loopers I found were from at least two different hatches. The larger ones were slightly over a half-inch in length and the smaller ones were only about 1/8" of an inch long.

In the wildflower meadows, we're starting to see more color. Currently in bloom we have Texas Bluebonnets, pink evening primrose, phlox, blue star grass, rose verbena, yarrow, dandelions, henbit, prairie gentian, and Indian blanket.

Most of the spring-blooming trees and early shrubs have finished up now and I've been working a little bit each day on thinning the fruit on the fruit trees.

We mowed the yard yesterday, ahead of today's expected rain storms, so at least for one day the lawn looks good and not wildly overgrown.

With continued weeding and mulching every week, the front garden is looking about as neat and tidy as it ever looks, though it still is filled with volunteer flowers and herbs that I just weed around while I try to figure out where I can move them to. I hate to waste good volunteer flowers and herbs, but I'm running out of places to put them all.

With the constant rainfall several days a week and both high moisture levels in the soil and high humidity, I am seeing scattered areas of foliar disease on some herbs and some veggies, but not on the tomatoes or peppers so far (knock on wood).

The worst pests aren't even garden pests---it is the mosquitoes and the black flies, and of the two, the black flies are biting us a lot more than the mosquitoes are. The craneflies are doing a pretty good job on the mosquitoes but I don't know if there is anything that is eating the black flies.

Eastern tent caterpillars appeared on the fruit trees a couple of weeks ago. I caught them mostly when they still were inside their web-like nest and sprayed them directly (not the whole fruit tree, just them) with a pyrethrin spray which killed them. Since then I have found three Eastern tent caterpillars that I apparently missed that day and killed them---two were on the plum tree but one was in the garden on a cabbage plant (I don't know why).

The most abundant butterfly in the garden, by far, has been the swallowtail and we are seeing both males and females (so far, more males than females). I grow a lot for their larvae to eat, including regular fennel, bronze fennel, two kinds of parsley and dill, so we normally have them around throughout the gardening season.

Hummers returned here at the end of March and there are a lot of them this year. Watching the hummers zip around the yard and garden, visiting flowers and feeders, is one of the best parts of being outdoors. Our purple martins are nesting in their houses and we should have babies soon. Phoebes are nesting on the side porch up underneath the porch roof and also over at the barn style garage, where they have a nest built above a sliding barn door. There's lots of frogs all over this year, but I haven't seen a toad yet. The cottontail rabbit population is having its usual explosive spring growth and we're treated to the delightful pastime of watching baby bunnies play in the front yard in the early evenings. Overall, even though we've seen a handful of snakes, it hasn't gotten too snakey yet.

For a couple of weeks now, we've had geese flying high overhead every day. I love hearing them "honking" as they pass over.

Oh, and the roses are in bloom---with my favorite one (Graham Thomas) blooming in the side yard and some old, no-name red rambling roses blooming on the fence outside my kitchen window.

That's the yard and garden report from here, south of Marietta.

What's new with y'all's yards and gardens?


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