GARDENING BY RONELLA: Time to order flower seeds, choose shrubbery
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Feb 05, 2014 | 56 56 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It may seem a long time until spring but March is such a busy time that a few suggestions for using this time in February seem in order. The more gardening chores you can do in February, the more time you will have in March when everything seems to happen at once.

If you haven’t ordered your flower seeds and chosen any shrubbery, now is the time while you have time to let ideas rattle around in your mind. I would suggest using a few of the old favorites such as petunias, marigolds, nasturtiums, zinnias and snapdragons. The old stand-by, the zinnia, is so versatile and does best when intermingled with softer foliage and texture. The size of zinnias runs the gamut from the tiny Lilliput to the giant dahlia-flowered ones. All of the above mentioned flowers come in differing sizes and colors. It’s enough to boggle your mind. If you do order seeds, don’t forget to add shipping.

Get all trimming and shaping of shrubbery done as soon as possible. However, avoid pruning trees, which bleed, such as elms, maples, etc. Pruning of these specific trees can be put off till September. Don’t forget to be very careful to only trim blooming shrubbery that blooms in late summer so you won’t destroy the blossoming wood on the early blooming shrubs.

Now is the time to prune fruit trees. Careful pruning and spraying must be done before the sap begins to rise.

Something to do in February that you may not have thought of is stocking up on mulch. You might even find a bargain. I always preferred cypress because bugs don’t live in it and therefore, garter snakes don’t crawl around in it looking for bugs. If you are battling crabgrass, listen up. Late February or early March is the time to apply pre-emergence crabgrass killer to your lawn. Believe it or not, you can gage the time to apply the crabgrass killer by watching for your forsythia to bloom. Then that is the right time. If you wait till later to apply this crabgrass killer, it does no good after the grass comes up.

Do you have some perennials you wish you had moved last fall? Well, you can do this in very early spring, just as soon as the soil has warmed enough to work. Put some compost or dried manure in the hole, add water and plant. You can move part of your daylilies by cutting a clump in two or four parts and planting in the same way.

Many gardeners are confused about pruning roses in late winter or early spring. Pruning should be done as early as you can tell where the new growth starts. We need a whole column about roses so soon we will devote more time just to roses.

The timing for fertilizing spring bulb must be just right. When they are just coming through the soil, give them some fertilizer, 10-10-10 or bulb fertilizer. That will keep you busy watching for them to come through the soil because they seem to grow inches overnight once they start.

As you may know, the bulb commonly known as the jonquil and the bulb with the cluster of sweet smelling flowers are both narcissi, the plural of narcissus. The buttercup is also the same. Just in case you always wanted to know.

Jonquils always remind me of Ma’s old garden. Lewis women had been tending and planting bulbs for more than a hundred years in that big old yard. She had clumps of them everywhere. Ma never told me I couldn’t pick them so I pretty much kept the blooms all picked.

Spring is my most favorite time of the year as it was for Ma. I often think of how busy she would be in spring but she loved it all. Just taking care of her chickens was a fulltime job. She cleaned the hen house, white washed it inside, took all the chicken manure to her back garden, filled the hens’ nests with fresh straw and then she was ready to delouse all the hens and roosters. She filled a big cauldron with water and some kind of medicine and dipped them, head and all. That was just the beginning. Then she ordered a special breed of little chickens. I also remember that she ordered either hens or roosters and they came by mail. She also had nests with old hens sitting on a clutch of eggs.

Besides caring for her chickens in spring, there was the old house to spring clean. She scrubbed every floor and most anything that didn’t move. Then she was planning her back garden.

Winter, her least favorite season, was over for one more year and she celebrated in her way. Ma was a happy woman in spring.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 with questions or suggestions for future columns.
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