March madness decends on local gardens
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Mar 06, 2013 | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
March madness is almost upon us gardeners. It is time to stock up on some crabgrass preventer. It seems that it is no longer called “killer”. My guess is that it sounds kinder.

Also you need to buy some lawn fertilizer and in my area, lime is probably needed. Remember that you need a high nitrogen fertilizer for the lawn and fertilize lightly. This is the time to buy insect control to use on fruit trees and ornamental trees. I spoke with Bob Brame at Cadiz Hardware and he has in stock the above suggested gardening needs.

Very soon you can plant those cold weather vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, etc. Your garden center will have slips in very shortly, if not already.

Some cool-season flowers can be planted very soon. Some of these are snapdragons, my all time favorite, pansies, sweet William pinks, another favorite and a few others. When you find them in your garden store, it is safe to buy and plant them since they are tough little plants and a light frost in March won’t hurt them a bit. In fact, they will keep right on blooming. They can be planted from mid-March on through April. Incidentally, I like to stake the little snapdragons so they won’t fall over and get lost in the flower bed. A good stake for the little plants is to break a wire coat hanger in half and tie the little plant to each wire

After your spring flowering bulbs are spent and the leaves are wilted, cut off the spent flower stalks and feed the plant with a 5-10-5 fertilizer, about ½ cup per 10 square feet of beds. If you fed them this spring when they were just emerging, forget about the fertilizer now. Don’t remove the foliage until it turns yellow because they are still feeding the bulb underneath.

Some people just mow them down and if you do, the flowers will get smaller and thinner. The reason the jonquils stay so pretty at the site where an old house once stood is that they were allowed to grow until they faded and disappeared.

Some of my readers complain that they have too much shade to grow anything. The plants that will thrive in shade are hostas and hardy ferns. Hostas come in such gorgeous colors and variegations that if you only planted hostas in your shady spots, you would have a beautiful area. Ferns and hostas both require much water so you need to plan for watering them. Some shrubs that thrive in shade are glossy abelia and grape holly, which is a beautiful plant.

This is a good time to start feeding your indoor plants to get them ready to move outside when the weather gets warm enough. There are some good water soluble fertilizers that are 18-18-18 or 20-20-20.

You can bathe those houseplants anytime now to get rid of winter dust and spider mites. Even though you won’t be putting them outside till the last of March or even mid-April, it is a good idea to get this chore done. First fill a tub or sink with warm water and add a flake soap such as Ivory flakes. Put the pot in a plastic bag, tie the top so that the dirt doesn’t get wet. Turn the pot upside down and swish the leaves in the water. You can do this several times a year but never, never on plants with fuzzy leaves such as African Violets. Also don’t do this on ferns and succulents.

I think my grandmother looked forward to spring more than anyone I ever knew. Ma loved her houseplants as well as her plants outside. One of my most vivid memories is of Ma getting ready to put her indoor plants outside on the porch. The front porch ran the length of the old house and she had planks from one post to another and she covered them all with pots of plants. Some were blooming plants and others were ferns. She especially loved asparagus ferns. Those pots of plants had wintered inside in her bedroom under a window that went almost to the floor. She made a holder for her pots by using planks on blocks and each plank went higher than the first so each plant got a little sun. It was a gigantic chore each fall to set up that contraption and then again in spring to take the pots to the porch and take down her invention to store for the summer. Of course, Pa played his part in this migration as did I when I got old enough to carry the smaller pots. Ma had no access to clay pots we use today so she used anything available that would hold dirt. She had a lot of granite pans that got too many holes to patch for use in her kitchen so they became plant pots. She even used wash pans and dish pans. Ma always got fresh woods dirt each spring to repot all her plants and that was an all day job.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 with questions and/or suggestions.
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