What to do Cut some flowering branches for bouquets. Sow parsley, beets, carrots, and lettuce leaves outdoors. Start squash and pumpkin seeds indoors. Begin hardening off tomatoes, peppers, and other tender seedlings by letting them spend more hours outdoors each day. Plant all your herbs except basil. Harvest radishes. Cut spinach when the leaves are 7 inches long. Snip off the top half of mesclun-mix seedlings with sharp scissors for salads and let the base continue to grow. Pick young red rhubarb stalks by cutting or grabbing them and pulling upward and slightly to the side. (Don’t eat the leaves.)
Q. I’m so excited that you have started the “Ask . . . ” section in the Boston Sunday Globe!! Great idea and love the format!! My question: I have a potted tulip that has just lost its flowers. I have cut the stem and left the leaves. When is the best time to plant it in the ground? Some people say to plant it now, and others say in fall. If I plant in the fall, what is the best way to care for the bulbs until then?
A. It’s tulip season now, and they sure are pretty, but I think they are also cruel because they raise false hopes of rebloom. Truth is, unlike most other spring bulbs, tulips are expensive annuals (with the exception of the Darwin Hybrid strain and some petite species). I just pull up my tulips after they bloom in my garden and compost them. If I don’t, the post-flowering foliage “cures” by turning a horrible yellow color as it stores up energy for next year. And you can’t remove it until it shrivels like a wicked witch if you hope to get a flower out of it the following year. Given the poor odds of rebloom, it’s just not worth it to me to tolerate such an eyesore during the lushest and prettiest weeks of spring. And, to answer your question, potted tulips NEVER bloom again. They are done. Kaput.
Q. I’m enjoying your Sunday articles. Re garlic mustard: Yes, I see it all over the place and pull it out of my small garden regularly. My question is: Is it edible in any way or useful as an herb?
A. This horrible invasive weed is actually an imported culinary herb gone wrong. So it’s safe to feed as you weed. There are no poisonous look-alikes. But to be sure you are getting the right plant, crush the heart-shaped leaves and sniff for a garlic smell. The pungent leaves are tasty mixed in salads with milder greens such as spinach, as well as steamed or sauteed. But here’s the catch: Warmer weather turns the leaves bitter. Some wait until November to give it a taste. Meanwhile, keep weeding and whatever you do, don’t let garlic mustard go to seed.