Saturday, September 30, 2023

Had enough snow?

by ELAINE CERNY/My Garden Path
| March 19, 2023 1:00 AM

I hope you like snow as we've certainly seen plenty of it lately. Personally, I'm beginning to get a little tired of it. The snowblowers are getting plenty of work. Not to mention all the exercise for those folks who “get to” push them around.

Enough of that. We're supposed to be talking about gardening. It's just a whole lot easier to do that when the sun is shining and you can actually see the ground. Maybe by the time this hits print things will look much better.

In the meantime, enjoy your houseplants, especially those with blossoms. My Christmas cactus plants have had a nice long season as they started flowering in November and are just now finishing up. My African violets are just starting to bud up, so they'll be “doing their thing” pretty soon.

If you've been feeding the birds, you'll want to continue. Once it warms up and there is natural food available, you can phase it out if you want to, but right now they need it to stay alive. One of the best things to offer them now is suet. This stuff works well to keep the little guys warm. Buy a little block of it and hang it in a metal holder in a popular perching spot. The birds will enjoy it and you will enjoy seeing them.

If you have seeds started under plant lights, remember to keep that room cool as you want those new plants to stay short and stocky rather than spindly and tall. Fifty degrees is an ideal room temperature for these youngsters. Basements and slightly heated garages work about the best.

March 20 is the actual first day of spring. It's called the vernal equinox, the date when night and day are nearly the same length and the sun crosses the equator moving northward. Most of us are more than ready for more sunshine.

It's always fun to have birds nesting in your yard. To encourage them, clean any old nests out of your birdhouses. The birds will appreciate a basket of feathers and dog fur to use as they build their new nests. It's fun to see some of Fido's old fur poking up between the babies.

Do get those seeds ordered if you haven't already done so. Your favorites could be sold out if you wait too long.

As for those veggie seeds you have on hand, peppers need to get planted now as they take a long time to get going. Why? Because they are quite slow to germinate. On the other hand, don't hurry to get those squash seeds started as they are such fast growers they could just about take over your house!

If you enjoy growing tuberous begonia plants, you should get them planted if you haven't already. Just take a container of a light mix and press the bulb, concave side up, on top. Barely cover with about a quarter inch of potting soil and place the pot in a warm place. Locate in a sunny window as soon as growth appears. They can be put outside in late May or early June.

At this time of year, your houseplants will appreciate a dose of fertilizer. Too much fertilizer is not a good idea, so mix it about half of what the directions say. Foliage plants need a fertilizer which has a high first number and flowering plants need one with a high middle number.

The local stores all seem to have a nice supply of blooming primroses for sale now. Don't buy one thinking it is a nice houseplant as it isn't. Instead, these are actually perennials and grow out in your flowerbeds. If you do buy any now, you'll need to put them outside for a few hours whenever the temperatures reach the mid-30s to 40s. Be sure to bring then back inside before night falls. Then plant them into a permanent spot in early May.

If you're tired of winter, you're not alone. Soon it will be April and with a little luck, Old Man Winter will be taking a hike!

• • •

Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is an active member of the River City Gardeners Club in Post Falls. Her column has appeared in The Press every other Sunday from early March to late October for the past 15 years.


Elaine Cerny

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