Snapdragons, Turnips and the Signs of Spring!
All about snapdragons. Antirrhinum majus is a short-lived perennial most often grown as annuals in colder climates. It is winter hardy in zones 7 - 10. They come in all colors and sizes and are fun for kids to grow. There is also another snapdragon, called Spanish snapdragon, Antirrhinum hispanicum, which is hardy to zone 6, maybe 5. Sometimes referred to as creeping snapdragons because they aren’t tall upright plants.
How to care for snapdragons. Treat mostly as annuals. They will tolerate some light frost. Keep cutting them back to encourage rebloom. Can be planted in a flower border or also do well in containers. They are easy to grow from seed indoors, but probably a little late to do that this year. Needs about 12 weeks before frost-free date. Unless sowing for fall.
Kind of an old-fashioned flower (can remember from our childhood so we know it is old) but new varieties such as the trailing type for hanging baskets, are bringing them back in favor a bit. They are fun for kids because you can pinch off the florets and then squeeze them between your thumb and finger to make them look like a dragon open and closing its mouth.
They are several different varieties of turnips other than the classic Purple Top.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds has Hakurei, Purple Top and Scarlet Queen.
Burpee has Tokyo Cross which is ready in about 35 days and Golden Globe, amongst others.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has Nagasaki Akari Kabu. Dee is growing it this year.
Turnips prefer soils that are 50ºF or warmer to germinate. (Yes, soil temperature is a thing and if you want to know your soil’s temp, buy a Soil Thermometer (affiliate link)).
They need up to 70 days for full maturity so don’t plant too late, but you can plant all the way until 70 days before your usual frost date. For Carol that would be about mid-August for the last sowing.
There are all kinds of recipes online for cooking turnips, which are becoming more hip. Move over Kale! Here come Turnips. Mashed turnips are a substitute for mashed potatoes. Clean, quarter, boil for 35-45 minutes until tender. Add a little butter, a little milk as you mash them to whatever consistency you’d like.
Listen to find out about Carol and Dee’s Turnip growing contest!
Dirt: Phenology maps
Keeping track year to year of when flowers bloom, plants leave out, etc. All about phenology.