Slow Flowers: Delphiniums in Oklahoma? Really?

I’ll share my secret. Years ago, I learned that many cold hardy crops, like spinach, kale, carrots and green onions could be planted outside in the fall and would overwinter for an early spring harvest—especially if given some protection. Turns out the same is true of flowers!

Thanks to the book Cool Flowers by Lisa Mason Ziegler, I started flower seeds in plug trays last August, then transplanted them outside in October. We covered them with row cover during the winter, particularly for those bone-chilling zero-ish nights in December and January.

And now? The delphiniums started blooming a couple of weeks ago. To a delphinium virgin like myself, these flowers are AMAZING! Golly gee whiz, I didn’t know we could grow flowers like this! And the sweet peas…already sweetly blooming. If I plant sweet pea transplants outside in late February, they don’t hit their peak until May/June and they get hot and unhappy almost as soon as they start flowering. Add to that snapdragons, Canterbury bells, dianthus and ammi…I’m a total convert.

Part of the trick is that while the actual flowers would get hit in a freeze, the plants themselves are cold hardy, especially at their younger stages of growth. Plant them in the fall, and by the time they flower in the spring, our last hard freeze has come and gone. We’ll plan to have some seedlings available this fall for you to try out in your own flower garden!  -Lia

Veggie Spotlight:Green Onions Worth Writing Home About

On the theme of fall planting… We started onion seed in August in pots, transplanted them outside in early October, and are now harvesting the most beautiful green onions! They sailed through the cold temps last winter without blinking, and then began to grow with enthusiasm. We’re harvesting the last of them this week, before they get too big.

Remember all that rain we got in the spring of 2015? Apparently green onions revel with lots of water, because we had THE sweetest green onions I have ever eaten. I’d pull some as I walked through the garden, rub the dirt off with my shirt sleeve, and munch down. Up until then, I didn’t think I liked green onions. Hot, dry weather makes them spicier, so be sure to water yours weekly if you like them mild. -Lia

Garden School
Last Saturday: Planting a Front Yard Garden

Wow! An entire new front yard garden went in during – and after – Garden School last week. Thanks to all who helped! After weeding and weeding and weeding, we planted a fruit tree and herb circle, built two raised beds, and installed steps covered by an arch for vining flowers. This Saturday at 10 am, we’ll plant the raised beds, make a vining trellis to shade the front porch, and seed a flower border. At 11 am, we’ll walk over to our new Food Forest and plant a couple more circles of fruit trees, herbs, and perennials. Please join us!

Coming Up:
May 13—Planting for Pollinators
May 20—Soil Testing for Nutrient Dense Food

Check out details on our website.

Meet our Apprentices: Laal Shams

With a degree in social work, native New Yorker Laal Shams worked for a non-profit project in a county jail, then in real estate accounting for ten years. “I gradually realized that I hated working in an office 50 hours a week,” she says. Intrigued by roof top gardens in New York, Laal had no time to find out about them.

Then, last fall, she and her companion, Blaze McKenzie, came to Oklahoma City, Blaze’s hometown, for a three-month visit. They’ve been here six months now, with no current plans to leave. The day before the application deadline for CommonWealth apprenticeships, Laal convinced Blaze that they both apply. “I had never even weeded before,” says Laal (pictured weeding a kale bed at CW.) “I’m learning a lot more than I’d imagined I’d ever know about gardening…how to I.D. vegetable plants, weeds, herbs…”

And now, she’s growing plants at home. “This is the first time in my life I’ve had a little piece of garden.” Laal is tending the flowers; Blaze, the vegetables, in their Oklahoma City space. “After I killed all the succulents, I’m very proud now: I have a wall of house plants that I’ve kept alive for four months. I sent friends photos!”

Getting involved in the CommonWealth community has been a way for her to get to know a new city, on this, her first time away from home. “I love coming to CommonWealth. It’s a cool community of people.”
So glad you found us, Laal!

Earth Week Events
SixTwelve’s Seed & Plant ExchangeEarthday: Friendship Seed & Plant Exchange and Potluck

Saturday, April 22, 1-4 pm, at SixTwelve,
612 NW 29th Street.
The Friendship Seed & Plant Exchange is a chance for local gardeners and farmers to connect with others who enjoy connecting to nature through growing plants and food. Garden leftovers and plants that need new homes are ideal for sharing at this gathering. The event is open to new and experienced growers.

Film Showing: Tomorrow

The film Tomorrow is an exciting and hope-filled documentary showing projects that people around the globe are doing to create sustainable, alternative systems in their local communities. Stories include permaculture farms, urban ag projects, community-owned renewable initiatives and other efforts that highlight people making a positive difference.

A showing of the documentary in Oklahoma City is sponsored by Transition OKC, Turtle Rock Farm Retreat Center and Green Connections. It’s free and open to the public. Tuesday, April 25, 7 p.m. in Room 151 at Oklahoma City University’s Walker Center, 26th and Florida.