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Saturday essay: The garden grows

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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

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Friday, May 2, 2014, 8:57 p.m.
 

Change is easy to find in the garden, especially after a week of rain magically altered its complexion.

The soil in the raised beds, tilled to plumpness as they were amended with rich organics, has settled in for the long growing season ahead. And what with the number of peas dotting the surface, it's readily apparent that somebody forgot to soak them before planting. Pushed back into the dirt, they'll sprout, eagerly, in days.

Greenhouse cabbage and cauliflower, transplanted just a week ago, suddenly are greener and taller. No fertilizer and no number of worms can match the shot in the roots that comes with each drop of nitrogen-rich rainwater.

Radishes, newly bedded as well, cowered in the week's steady rain. But they're shaking off their soil-bespotted young leaves and now are well on their way to a first harvest by Memorial Day.

A long-range spring forecast that, a month ago, made most gardeners cringe for its predicted cold, suddenly looks far warmer and brighter. Looks like a switch to bolt-resistant lettuce will be in order for the raised beds. And there's really no reason to delay sowing the green beans or transplanting the greenhouse cucumbers into their respective beds.

As tempting as it is, the tomatoes won't be transplanted until mid-month. It's not so much the threat of a late frost but waiting for a drier spell and steady overnight temperatures no lower than 50 to ward off the kind of blight that was so devastating last year.

But as some rationalizing gardener once put it, there are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.

­— Colin McNickle

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