Archive for March 21st, 2009

Mid-March Garden Notes

March 21, 2009 @ 7:04 am | Filed under:

In Virginia, we always used to plant our peas around St. Patrick’s Day. Here in San Diego, we’re harvesting them. My mother helped the girls put in a small vegetable garden during her visit in January: lettuce, tomatoes, basil, beans, peas, cucumbers, carrots. Which, now that I see the list written out, doesn’t sound small at all.

The peas—they planted just a few starts—are ready now, affording the children the singular delight of picking and eating them warm in the sun, impossibly sweet, crisp, perfect. Or so I’m told. I wouldn’t have dreamed of depriving Rilla of one single magical pea; this may be the first time she has voluntarily eaten a vegetable.

The lettuce is ready too; we’ll be having a big green salad for dinner tonight.


The pole beans are about a foot high. Tomatoes ripening, and desperately in need of staking. (I forgot to buy the cages for them, Mom.) That’s on my Saturday to-do list.

We’ve got a few carrots sending up their feathery greens. The cucumbers are spreading. Uncle Ray’s bean seeds haven’t sprouted yet but it shouldn’t be long now.

Jasmine is blooming along the back fence, and the bougainvillea too. The bird-spilled sunflowers under the feeder are half as tall as the fence now. The ice plant is thick, lush, unabashedly magenta. The tall graceful spires of lavender and salvia nod at each other from their opposite corners of the garden. The Oriental poppies are are shedding bright orange tissue-paper petals onto the dark soil beneath their fat, fuzzy buds; they look like the day after a party.

Hordes of brown aphids are encamped on the stalks of our pincushion flowers. We watched one valiant ladybug wearily do her part to combat the sapthirsty squadrons. I fear ’tis a losing battle.

By the front stoop: pansies, petunias, snapdragons, rosemary with its tiny blue flowers like the scraps left after someone stitched a sky-quilt. Yesterday I read the perfectly beautiful picture book A River of Words about William Carlos Williams, and I had to laugh because all week I’ve been hearing an echo of his red wheelbarrow poem whenever I pass the front step, where purple velvet petunias are tumbling over the rim of their green glazed pot: so much, indeed, depends upon this, these blossoms, this gray stair, the merry pansies below.