An image of Virginia Bluebells
Photo above: Virginia Bluebells in my garden

It is April and the ground has finally dried out enough to dig. March was a soggy wet mess in my community garden plot. I went out on a cold, clear March day and finished the fencing I put up this past November.

I have decided to not plant any early spring food crops but to wait until May 15th and plant my summer crops. I want to use this time to replace and reconfigure some of my raised beds. This is the second spring with my garden plot.

I have bought the new wood for my raised beds. I am making each bed 4’X4’ or 4’X8’. The 4’X8’ will have a cross plank of wood across the center to make it easy to extend the sides higher later on. I use plastic raised bed connectors by Frame It All AJ2-18 2-Pack Anchor Joints. A couple of days ago these were sold out on Amazon.com and I had to buy online from Home Depot.

I like my raised beds to be easy to break down and move. Because you never know when you have to. After all, I am on leased land. I could pack up just about everything in my plot and move it somewhere else.

I took these photos of the native flowers that are blooming in my garden. Enjoy!
Warmest regards,
Donna
An image of Fiddlehead Ferns
Photo: Fiddlehead Ferns - I think it's Ostrich Ferns

The Growing Season

In southern parts of our City (Center City, South Philly) April 15th is the last spring frost date. April 30th is the last spring frost date for the northern areas of Philadelphia. There about four weeks until the last spring frost date when all danger of frost has passed. For the northwest section of the City, this happens on May 15th. Plant your most cold sensitive plants then like corn, tomatoes, and peppers. Also the hot weather flowers like salvia, zinnias, and sunflowers.

Seeds to Start Indoors Right Now
The warm weather craving plants that produce vegetable fruits.

I started my tomatoes and peppers indoors already. They will go out May 15th. This week I’ll be starting annual flowers, melons, squash, and cucumbers. Okra can be started indoors about May 3rd.

Transplants to Set Out Right Now
The better nurseries have had cool season transplants ready to go in the garden for a couple of weeks now. Lettuce, carrots, chard can still be planted out as seeds or transplants now.

Of course, there are a wide variety of native plants available in the nurseries now. Especially plants that bloom in spring. It is a good time to plant these, too.
An image of Golden Alexanders
Photo: Golden ALexanders ready to bloom golden yellow

Plant Sales

Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education will hold its’ spring native plant sale on Saturday, May 4, 2019, from 8:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. At the Native Plant Sale, there will be local makers, food vendors, a bird walk, and a perennial planting activity for kids to do for Mother’s Day.

The Center usually has a wide variety of flowers, trees, shrubs, and groundcovers. They may even have vegetable transplants. There will be volunteers to help customers choose plants for specific garden goals or conditions.
http://www.schuylkillcenter.org/blog/event/spring-native-plant-sale-6/

The Pennsylvania Native Plant Society has a directory of native plant sales in the state. Find the list at http://www.panativeplantsociety.org/plant-sales-and-festivals---featuring-natives.html.

An image of Columbine in my garden.
Photo above: Eastern Columbine

Baby Chicks and Urban Farming

Primex Garden Center has baby chicks for sale. This was a surprise. When I was there a couple of weeks ago, there were Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks, Red Sta, and Easter Egger (Araucanas/Americans).

No, keeping backyard chickens is not currently legal in Philadelphia. But, that hasn’t stopped people. I have been seeing chickens in Philly since I was a kid. Apparently, backyard chickens and other animals were made illegal in 2004. There is a move in City Council to change the City laws to allow backyard farm animals. Philly Magazine has an online article that gives an overview of the current (as of February 15, 2019) state of affairs. https://www.phillymag.com/news/2019/02/15/philadelphia-backyard-chickens/

The City of Philadelphia is developing an Urban Agriculture Plan. Gardening and Farming is booming in the City. The City wants to encourage and support this movement.
https://www.philly.com/science/climate/urban-farm-agriculture-philadelphia-plan-garden-plots-20190320.html

Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council
https://phillyfpac.org/urban-agriculture/

The City has a job opening for an Urban Agriculture Director. https://jobs.smartrecruiters.com/CityofPhiladelphia/743999683419223-urban-agriculture-director

Learning

I’m still reading Farming While Black - It’s a big book!

I also bought my next book, National Wildlife Federation Attracting Birds, Butterflies, and Other Backyard Wildlife, Expanded Second Edition by David Mizejewski. I had the original edition from years ago. I used it to choose the native plants that fill my backyard garden today. I used it to quality my garden as a wildlife habitat garden with the Nation Wildlife Federation. If you would love to see butterflies fluttering from flower to flower in your garden, this is the book to start with.

Expect the next Garden Update May 15th.
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