Gardening the perfect stress reliever
by Ronella Stagner, Gardening Columnist
Sep 09, 2009 | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Many benefits are derived from gardening. Any gardener will attest to that but have you ever thought about how calming it is to dig in the dirt, water, plant, cut flowers, etc.? Often this gardener has taken her troubles outside in the early morning along with hoes, rakes, hose, spray and all the other tools and just sat on a favorite chair placed near the flower beds and let nature take over. If you are angry at the stupidity you have heard throughout the day, if you resent words that disparage others unkindly, if you are worried about personal cares, just sitting in the shade and contemplating the beauty you have created will have a calming effect. Pity the poor person who doesn’t know the joys of gardening. It is the same thing that made my grandfather take the old fishing tackle and head for the river to spend his one day free of labor. He often told me that if he didn’t even wet the bait, he would love spending time at the river bank where he could, for a short time, lay aside the cares of his week.

It’s also a fact that some of us would be better off getting rid of anger by taking a hoe out to the garden and doing an hour or two of hard work. It won’t change the person or situation you are angry at but will make you feel lots better.

By the middle of September, it’s time to start bringing your houseplants inside for the winter. If you wait till later, you may get caught on some cold night and lose some plants. It’s best to take them into a covered porch for a week or so. Remember that below 55 degrees is the danger point for your houseplants.

Now is the best time to plant some bulbs for blooms in December or January. It’s very easy. Plant two or three daffodils or tulips in pots with the tips just above the soil. Put the pot in the refrigerator for about 12 weeks to fool them into thinking it’s winter. When the time is up, put them in a sunny window and wait for blooms in a remarkably short time. You may have trouble explaining why you have pots of dirt in the refrigerator buy anyone who has raised boys has found many strange things in the refrigerator.

Soon you will have to dig the summer bulbs such as cannas, gladiolus, etc. The timing is a little different for some of them. Dig the gladiolus corms when the leaves turn yellow. You can wait for a light frost before digging cannas and dahlias but don’t let them get a heavy frost because it will kill them. Caladiums and tuberous begonias must be dug after a light frost. After digging these, leaving a little of the stem, let them dry for several days before storing them in a cool, dry place. Peat moss makes a good material for storing them. Check them occasionally during the winter months to remove any decaying bulbs.

A word of caution: don’t cut your perennials too soon. Wait for a killing frost when the leaves turn brown. However, you can pull up those scraggly annuals any time you choose. Check for mildew before putting them in the compost pile. Anything with mildew will only come back to haunt you next year. Though it’s nice to clean up the perennials after they turn brown, it’s not written in stone to do so. It just makes spring’s work easier and the beds look better this winter. I could never get them all cut back because I don’t like working in the cold wind. I did learn, however, to cut back the daylilies because I found garter snakes liked to curl up in the dried leaves of the daylilies when they first stuck their little bodies out of hibernation and into the garden.

Give your azaleas and rhododendrons one more mulching while you’re working outside. Oak leaves or pine needles work best for these two acid lovers. Watering these two plants at this time is very important because of their short root system. It’s also important to water all perennials during September, especially roses, astilbe, hostas and tall garden phlox.

When I start thinking of all the gardening chores that have to be done in late August and September, I remember Ma and Pa’s old attic where popcorn and peanut vines were hung along the rafters and where, in a corner, were all the keepsakes of several generations including a Spanish War uniform, bass violins, guitars and a trunk belonging to Ma’s grandmother. And in another corner were many books, especially western novels which Pa loved. Sweet potatoes would be stacked on newspapers all over the floor. If I happened to be visiting, I was very handy in carrying things up the steep, winding stairs. I loved to carry things up for Ma because I thought that old attic was a magical place. Few places have held the fascination for me of that attic on a rainy day when the rain beat on the old tin roof.

(I appreciate your calls. You can reach me at 270-522-3632 or write Ronella Stagner, 137 Main St., Cadiz, KY 42211.)
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