I think spring is here, but after the belated winter, Iím not real sure. It was an odd season, thatís for sure. At least the calendar is saying March, so maybe weíre over the hump. Whew.
As it is way too early to be outside, digging and planting, etc., there are a few things we can still do. I hope you have your seeds purchased. If not, donít wait any longer or what you want may be sold out.
Speaking of seeds, there are some you can start indoors. If you have a greenhouse, thatís even better.
Some to start early include tomatoes, peppers and melons. These all take a long growing season, so they need a head start. You wonít be able to plant them outdoors until around the end of May. This depends, of course, on the weather.
Other things to start growing indoors are tender bulbs. These may be newly purchased or some youíve saved from last fall. I save quite a few tuberous begonia bulbs and dahlia tubers.
Plant the begonia bulbs on top of a pot of new potting soil. The pot should be short and wide, 6 to 8 inches of width works well. Just nestle the bulb into the top of the soil with the concave side up. Donít cover the bulb. Water well and set into a bright window or under lights.
The dahlia tubers need to go into a larger pot which is also deeper. Bury the tuber under a few inches of potting soil, water and place into a similar source of light. Be sure both begonia and dahlia pots are in a warm location. No chilly windowsills, please. Donít add any more water until you see growth at the top.
This is the perfect time to repot those houseplants. With the days beginning to get longer, most of these will be putting out new growth. African violets benefit from being repotted now. Just donít get carried away with larger pots. The rule of thumb with growing these plants is, the pot should never be more than 1/3 the width of the leaf span. So, if your plant is 9 inches wide across the top, the plant should go into a 3-inch pot, no wider. Violets tend to like their roots a bit crowded and often wonít bloom in a pot which is too large.
To grow more of a certain variety of violet, you may divide the plant if there is more than one in the pot. Otherwise, you will need to make more from planting a leaf. Choose a healthy looking leaf, cut the stem to about an inch long. Plant into a small pot and enclose the pot in a clear plastic bag. Keep in a warm area which has strong light. You should see baby plantlets coming up after several weeks. Let these get big enough to handle and then carefully pull them off the mother leaf. These can be planted individually and with time, will bloom like the parent.
Most other houseplants can be transplanted in much the same way. The exception would be succulents. These include cactus. These plants need a totally different potting soil than that used for violets. Succulents needs soil that drains very quickly and does not hold moisture. Otherwise, the methods are pretty much the same: take the plant out of the pot, knock off the old soil and repot into a slightly larger pot. Water and place in a warm and light area.
Watch for those early harbingers of spring. No, Iím not talking about robins, I mean dandelions!
• ē ē
Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is currently serving as secretary for the River City Gardeners Club in Post Falls. Her column appears in The Press every other Sunday from early March to late October. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org