Magazine article Sunset

Frost Protection for Salad Greens, Planting Time for Daffodils and Wildflowers

Magazine article Sunset

Frost Protection for Salad Greens, Planting Time for Daffodils and Wildflowers

Article excerpt

In the West's high deserts and mountains, September nights can get downright frosty. But there's a way to extend the harvest of leafy vegetables: use a frost-protection structure such as the cloche pictured here. Chef Kyle Fulwiler uses it to grow lettuce and other salad greens at the governor's mansion in Olympia, Washington.

Fulwiler's salad cloche, as she calls it, is made from a sheet of 6-mil plastic stretched over arched sections of 1/2-inch-diameter PVC pipe. The enclosure, which covers a 4- by 30-foot raised bed, provides crops complete protection fro chilly nights, and allows them to survive otherwise killing frosts. If you buil a similar structure, be sure to pull back the plastic during the day, or plants will cook when the air inside heats up.

Small daffodils with big impact

When shopping for daffodils, bigger isn't always better. Four reliable garden performers that display modest-size flowers include Narcissus 'Hawera', 'Jack Snipe', 'Peeping Tom', and 'Tete-a-Tete'. Look for these varieties at well-stocked nurseries or in mail-order bulb catalogs. Plant them all this fall and you'll have two months of daffodil blooms next spring.

'Tete-a-Tete' is first to bloom in early spring, producing yellow flowers on 10-inch stems. This variety has N. tazetta genes, which make it a little less hardy than some of the others, but which are also the source of its wonderful fragrance.

'Peeping Tom' is another yellow kind, and starts flowering a week or two after 'Tete-a-Tete'. It grows to about 12 inches tall; blooms have no fragrance.

'Jack Snipe' blooms a week or two after 'Peeping Tom'. It grows to 12 inches tall, producing white-petaled flowers with yellow cups; they have no fragrance.

'Hawera' is the last to bloom, with fragrant, nodding yellow blossoms on 10-inc stems.

Wildflowers: why and how to sow seeds now

Scattered in garden beds in autumn, wildflower seeds spend the winter absorbing the chill and moisture they need to germinate in spring. Those you sow now will come up days or weeks ahead of any spring-sown seeds.

To prepare a seedbed, loosen the soil with a spading fork and add soil amendmen to boost organic matter. Take out the biggest rocks, then rake the area and water it well. When weeds come up, hoe them out. Then rake, water, and hoe again. When you think you've eliminated the weeds, scatter the wildflower seed, rake it in, and let nature take its course. Next spring, your biggest job will be keeping weeds out of the wildflowers.

You can buy wildflower seed from many suppliers. …

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