One part of spring that's rewarding is venturing out into the garden to see what perennials came back from last year. In Utah, there are always a few casualties, but because I'm usually pretty haphazard about clearing away the plants in the fall, lots of years I have garden "volunteers" where old plants have dropped seeds. This year I've been slow to get started on the garden for a variety of reasons, including house renovations that have left torn-up sprinklers all over the yeard. I've only planted a few things so far, but there are quite a few friends back from last year. Above are green onions that came up (or survived the winter?) in one of my herb beds. I was afraid they'd be bitter, but I used a few of them and they actually tasted fine.
Any of you Utah Food Bloggers who live around here, stop by and get some of this glorious tarragon. I just got the raised beds in my garden last year, and I'm amazed at how having this super-fertile soil has pumped up the plant growth.
I experimented with growing fennel next to the fence, and it didn't really produce much during the season last year, but now I have two bushy fennel plants that came back. (Don't know much about fennel so if anyone knows if it's a plant that takes a few years to come on like asparagus, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.)
I also have two rows of swiss chard that either lived over the winter or started from seeds that dropped in the fall. I'm guessing the lived all winter though, judging by how they looked before I cleaned them up. The chard is a little bitter, but I haven't had the heart to pull them out, and I'm also wondering if I could cut them back and have the new growth be good.
Next to the chard are two rows of this red russian kale that I liked so much last year. It definitely survived the winter because the stalks are thick and gnarly, and the kale is a little bitter too. (If any experienced gardeners know if I can rescue these plants with a vigorous trimming, please speak up.)
There are quite a few perennial herbs that don't winter over in Utah, but this purple sage survived beautifully, and in the left corner is some Greek oregano that's also happy as can be. I trimmed these a few weeks ago and they're filling in nicely.
Of course nothing can prevent mint from coming back, even when you neglect it terribly and plant it in a part of the garden that hardly gets any water. This is peppermint, and I'm going to cut it way back because I'm planting some larger-leaf spearmint farther down the fence. (If you've never grown mint, don't put it where it can spread out or it will overtake your entire yard. I have a plantic barrier that keeps my mint from traveling.)
Finally even though it's a rather fuzzy photo (and the bird disappeared by the time I went inside to get my telephoto lens) but this woodpecker has already taken up a perch on the electric pole that's in my neighbor's yard by the southwest corner of my garden. The contractors tell me he comes back over and over all day, pecks at the wood for a while, and then flies away. I'm guessing this means there are bugs living in the pole, but whatever the reason, I love seeing birds in the garden.
This is the first garden update for 2009. When there are more updates, you can see them by clicking 2009 Garden Updates.