GARDENING BY RONELLA: Don’t put off what must be done today
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Apr 03, 2013 | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There are just so many gardening chores that must be done this month that it is hard to decide just what to do first. There is the old method of choosing each day that job that can’t be put off till tomorrow. Then there is a method of prioritizing. A great gardener keeps a journal so that you have a record of what you did last year on any given date. I have tried it by just jotting down notes each week but, alas, I didn’t stick to it. I am of the school of just getting up each day and letting the weather and my mood determine what is most important for that day. So this column will give you some ideas, hopefully.

It is tempting to put mulch on your shallow rooted plants each year. They are azaleas, rhododendrons, boxwoods, dogwoods and a few others. It may look good at the time but, over time, you can get up to a foot or more of mulch, which can smother and kill the plant. If you want that fresh, black look of fresh mulch, rake off the old and add about 2 to 3 inches of fresh mulch.

As you probably have read in this column many times, don’t keep adding to mulch around trees. The foot or more of mulch lets insects and disease get into the bark and soon will kill a tree. It really doesn’t even look good.

If you get a lily for Easter, you can plant it in your flowerbed after the bloom has wilted. Eventually, you can have a whole bed of lilies. They thrive and multiply if given the right spot in the bed and a little care. First thing you need to do when you get an Easter lily is to cut out a little hole in the bottom of the fancy paper which surrounds the pot so it can drain. They need sun and slightly damp soil but not wet soil. After your lily flower fades, set the pot outside in the sun for a week or two and then remove from the pot and plant in a sunny, rich spot and you will have a blooming lily next year. My grandmother had a whole corner of her kitchen garden planted in those lilies. Once, I was given the pots of lilies from my church to take home and plant. What a wonderful bed of lilies that made.

The average date for frost in Kentucky is in early April but it can happen later so be prepared and don’t rush setting out your sensitive plants. The accepted date when it is safe to transplant is May 15. That is an old idea but it usually works out pretty well.

Evergreens in need of shaping and thickening may be sheared in April, as the new growth gets under way. This is also the time to shape boxwood. A good shaping will get rid of any winterkill on boxwoods.

The trees and shrubs that prefer spring planting are birches, magnolias, tulip trees, Japanese maples, altheas, flowering almonds, ornamental cherries, buddleias (butterfly bush), rhododendrons and weigelas.

A spring never comes that I don’t think of my wonderful Ma and still miss her. It is hard to describe her but one word that always comes to mind is “bustling”. She never seemed to hurry and in fact, was not a fast worker, but seemed to get everything done when it needed to be done. I think “organized” also describes her. From her, I learned to plan my day when I first get up or even sometimes the night before. Another thing I learned from her is to take time to smell the roses. She was always happy to sit and visit with anyone who came by or to sit with me in the old swing and answer my questions. That is when I learned about Ma’s childhood and her young married life in the old Lewis house. Pa and Ma spent their entire married life in that house until it burned when they were old. I am so glad that she was willing to just talk to me so that I have wonderful memories of her. Pa talked to us too but he usually only recounted the funny tales while Ma shared her many heartaches.

Ma’s days were laid out in a very orderly fashion according to the weather and the season. When it came time to plant, she was ready with the seeds she had saved and put in pint jars. When it was time to pick the plums, the blackberries, and her fruit in the orchard, the jars were ready and well before time to can, the jars were sterilized and turned upside down on her kitchen table. I always ate her pumpkin seeds as soon as they were dried enough in her kitchen window ledge, which, I am sure, put a kink in her plans just temporarily.

Pa had his own schedules and he stuck to his plans except for Sunday and that was his day for fishing in spring and summer. Other than that one day, he worked from sun to sun.

When I remember them, it is always their smiles and love that I remember. I never heard either of them complain or grumble. And I do remember them often.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632. Thanks so much for your comments.
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