Now is the time for garden-planning trips
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Feb 27, 2013 | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
During this waiting period, just before March madness, when there are so many things to do that you can’t decide which is most important, is a great time for planning. It’s also a great time to make trips to local nurseries. By local, I mean within a day trip. You can peruse the newest in daylilies, check out the new perennials, stock up on grass and weed killer, buy some grass seeds to sow in a few weeks, get some grass fertilizer and so many more things just waiting for you.

This is a good time to buy those perennials which you needed last summer for some blank spots in your garden. An important reminder is that you must consider whether a new perennial needs dry soil or moist. It’s a good idea to put all your dry soil perennials farthest from your water source and all together. If plants that need dry soil, such as Russian Sage and Autumn Joy sedum, are mixed in with those that need regular watering, you are making a lot of work for yourself. So keep that in mind when planning to purchase new perennials.

I always suggest that you buy at least one new daylily each year. When you are looking them over, you will be amazed at the changes in our old favorite. There are newer colors, variegated ones in all colors, new varieties that bloom all summer and so on.

To answer a frequent question of late: the jonquils that are just in bud when a late freeze comes will not be killed but the bloom for this year is gone. The same goes for peonies that get a late freeze just when the bud is in color. But never fear. The plant is not affected, just the bloom for this year.

Wait just a few weeks more to sow grass seed in those bare spots. The temperature needs to be in the low 60’s before sowing. The same goes for fertilizing your lawn. Remember to just fertilize lightly. Too much fertilizer will give too much fast growth, weakening the root system. If you see weeds in the lawn, get at them with a weed and feed. Be sure to carefully follow directions.

One chore that you can do on those days in late February when the sun shines and the soil seems to beckon you, every gardener knows the feeling, is to get at those weeds. However, be careful in weeding because some perennials are self-sowing and little seedlings may be just coming up. If you recognize a perennial just coming up and if that plant is not staked, now is the time. If you wait until the plant is half grown, it’s harder to stake. So one of the things you may want to stock up on is some twine for staking. You can get that at any garden store. It comes in a ball of green grass string. Or you can use strips of old nylon stockings as I always did, being a frugal gardener.

In spring or just before spring weather, I think of my dear old grandmother, my Ma Lewis. She took advantage of the pre-copperhead weather, before March brings them out, to go down to the creek bank and look for “poke” to go with the early turnip greens which she cooked in a big iron kettle on her old wood stove. I wouldn’t eat it then but sure would be happy to eat her pot of greens now.

Another early spring chore, which she and I both loved, was to hunt for wild flowers along that creek bed and also up in the woods behind her house. It was not a very safe thing to do except in winter when, of course, the wild flowers were dormant. Ma had her own little wild flower garden in a shady spot in the back garden just beside the old chimney. She had prepared the spot well by bringing in many buckets of woods dirt. Now, I must add that she never announced to Pa that she was going to make these little sojourns because she believed, as I came to believe, that it is easier to get forgiveness than to get permission. Pa always had a fear of her being bitten by a copperhead or rattlesnake. But since the copperhead snakes come out of hibernation in March, they would present the most danger. Ma had many places to go on the old home place and snake or no snake, she went where she wanted to go. There was the little family graveyard and another about two miles away where her sister was buried. And then she would walk to her neighbor friend’s or to the pasture if the old cow didn’t come when called. Just working in her flowers in the yard could be dangerous. When I was a child, Ma was busy from early morning till night, either at a chore that had to be done or at something she did for pleasure. But she always had time for her grandchildren.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 with questions and/or suggestions or just to let me know what you like about the column.
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