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.

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8 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Kristen says:

    Oh my goodness, how lush! These aren’t notes, they’re poetry! Beautiful, Lissa!!

  2. Susan says:

    Sounds tasty! Green with envy here, we still have about 6 inches of snow on the ground in southern Saskatchewan but it is, thankfully, melting quickly.

    Enjoy the fruits of your labours!

  3. MelanieB says:

    So lovely to read about your bounty. We’ve got little sproutlings of basil and cilantro in pots on the windowsill and tomato and pepper seedlings in flats on the kitchen table under a grow light. But our garden harvest is still a hope for things yet to come.

  4. Penny in VT says:

    It all sounds so, so so… good…

    Here it was 19 degrees this morning, but there’s no snow… knock wood. I’m beginning to think about our garden – soon, very soon, we’ll be enjoying summer’s first lettuce, and I will think back on this amazing post and feel connected…

    Gorgeous post, I could feel the velvety petunias and the warm sun, if only in my imagination!

  5. Cheryl M. says:

    Beautiful lettuce! Enjoy your garden! 🙂

  6. Kathryn says:

    Cherub is with Rilla. We don’t grow peas (we don’t grow anything!) but like to go to a pick-your-own fruit and veg farm in the summer. Cherub in a field of peas was like a pig in clover. She is already practicing “fruit picking” for this year by filling a playmobil basket with dismembered bits of toast.

  7. Estee L. says:

    Hi Lissa! We corresponded years ago about homeschooling but I was out of touch with your blog until recently.

    I just wanted to tell you that the tomato leaves can be used to control aphids. I read about it in Organic Gardening magazine. It takes time to work– give it a few weeks– but it appently is effective. (I’m waiting for tomato plants to come in to our nursery so I can try it on our indoor gardenia, which is home to many aphids).

    It involves little more than soaking chopped tomato leaves in water.

    Hope it helps.