Zionsville Times Sentinel

Commentary

May 8, 2013

Spring’s been slow to arrive

I found my first two tiny, gray sponge mushrooms Thursday, April 25. With relatively warmer weather over the weekend, this should be the prime week for the Central Indiana mushroom hunter.

Spring 2013 is as late as spring 2012 was early. Last year, all the Boone County corn crop was planted at this time; this year, less than 1 percent of the local corn crop has been planted.

Some song birds are making their way back from the South to Boone County. Brown thrasher, catbird, bluebird, tree swallow, phoebe, chipping sparrow and warblers have also been spotted locally. Hummingbirds should be appearing any time now. One of their favorite early season flowers is the columbine. One columbine is native to Indiana, and numerous other hybrids have been developed. Wild columbine is the flower at which we usually see the first hummingbirds of the spring in our yard, often during the first week of May.

COOL-SEASON VEGETABLES

We planted onions a month ago. Despite more than 6 inches of rain during April, they are off to a good start. Our two favorite varieties are Candy and Yellow Granex, both very mild, sweet onions. Granex is a Vidalia onion type. Early-planted onions will put on more growth prior to flowering, resulting in a larger bulb. It’s also time to plant other cool-season vegetables if you haven’t done so already: leaf lettuce, beets, cabbage, radishes, broccoli and cauliflower, as examples.

WHAT’S THAT PURPLE WEED?

Each year at this time, I receive numerous questions. One is: What’s the purple weed blooming all over farm fields and other bare areas? It is purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum). The short, 12- to 16-inch-tall plant is a winter annual. It germinates from seed in the fall or very early spring. By the time fields and gardens are dry enough to work, these plants are already full size and ready to flower. Being in the mint family (Labiatae), the stems are square. Distinctly triangular leaves are crowded near the upper portion of the stem. Lower leaves are larger and have longer petioles than upper leaves. Flowers are light purple. Each plant produces thousands of seeds that can persist in the soil for several years.

See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.



 

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  • Travel track record remains 'perfect' I may have mentioned I have a track record for traveling to places at "interesting" times: hurricane, monsoon and rattlesnake seasons, for example. My track record continues to build. I was in Seattle for measles season. OK, it wasn't so much a season as an "exposure."

    April 16, 2014

  • Want better teacher ratings? Ask the kids The state may be back where it started, encumbered with a flawed teacher grading system, a year after implementing what were meant to be tough new standards. That was the general consensus of the State Board of Education days after teacher evaluation data were released last week. Of 50,000 public school teachers graded by their principals, less than one-half of 1 percent were deemed “ineffective.”

    April 16, 2014

  • Spring into warm-weather activities safely Of course. Mother Nature finally supplies a day of sunshine and warmth inspiring kiddos to run outside; moments later a bike wreck brings the fun to a screeching halt. Fortunately, a bandage and a kiss remedy the skinned knee. The incident also offers this mom an important reminder. After a winter fighting bitter cold and piles of snow we are all anxious to finally get outside. In the rush to enjoy days of sunshine, pausing to recap a few safety rules ensures the days go smoothly.

    April 16, 2014

  • Add 'ups' to your spring to prevent Injury Welcome back spring! We all missed you so much and can’t wait to be outside soaking up every wonderful thing you have to offer. Our bodies are ready for the activity, fresh air, and a healthy level of UV rays. I can’t wait to mulch, bike, plant, 5k, swing, dig ... well, maybe not mulch. As you fly recklessly into your spring favorites and to-do lists, use these tips to care for your body to maximize your efforts and keep you safe.

    April 16, 2014

  • No Internet for blind date checks in Dark Ages A friend posted on her Facebook last week that it was her 23rd anniversary. That number in itself was pretty noteworthy in this day and age, but what made it noteworthy for me was that she was married to a man she met on a blind date.

    April 16, 2014

  • Anything goes at Beef & Boards Eighty years ago native Hoosier Cole Porter wrote the music and lyrics for “Anything Goes.” Six days ago it opened at Beef & Boards dinner theater. The show, which is a fun, music-filled voyage aboard the SS American, proves yet again that there is more than corn in Indiana.

    April 9, 2014

  • House Ethics Committee faces first major probe since 1997 Steering lawmakers through a rewrite of the state’s criminal code won House Judiciary Chairman Greg Steuerwald bipartisan accolades this year.

    April 9, 2014

  • Frontier Airlines fouls, strikes out I've been fortunate to have traveled frequently — mostly in a past life, prior to returning to the newspaper business. I knew things had changed, but I'd flown since 9-11 and thought I was pretty much up to speed on policies when I traveled to Washington state at the end of March.

    April 9, 2014

  • To save or not to save ash trees? Since arriving in the United States around 15 years ago, the Emerald Ash Borer has proven to be a devastating pest of green and white ash. To date, it has killed millions of ash trees and, if left untreated, appears to result in 100 percent mortality of infested trees.

    April 9, 2014

  • Eating as if life depends on it Back in the spring of 2008, I was fortunate to have heard two nationally respected authors speak in Indy.

    April 9, 2014

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