GARDENING BY RONELLA: Things can be done while waiting for spring
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Feb 26, 2014 | 67 67 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This waiting for spring is nerve wracking. The sun is shining, grass is getting green, and all gardeners and would-be gardeners are just waiting to get going. There are some things you can do to get ready but many plans must be put on hold because about the time you think spring is finally here, we get that really unwelcome cold spell.

You can get all dead grass and dead leaves out of your flowerbeds now. You can also transplant, or divide, some perennials now, but only when the soil is dry, never when it’s wet. Never try to move or divide peonies in spring.

Don’t be tempted to sow grass seeds now because you will be wasting the seeds if you sow before the temperature is consistently above 60 degrees. In a few weeks, you can lightly fertilize with high nitrogen fertilizer if you failed to do that last fall but the key word here is lightly. Too much fertilizer now makes for fast growth and weakens the root system.

This is the time for planning, both in your perennial beds and your vegetable garden. Once the temperature stays up above 60 degrees, it seems that everything happens at once. Sharpen all your tools, including the lawn mower, clean out and check your sprayers, start looking for seeds for flowers and vegetables and, most fun of all, check out the garden stores for new varieties of perennials and shrubs. Something new is always on the market.

The most interesting flowerbeds are the ones with interesting benches, statues, and novelties. I have a friend who has always had the most interesting flowerbeds and it is so interesting to see what she is adding. She has a giraffe sticking his head up among the flowers and various other interesting non-flower additions. My favorite is the bottle tree and this year she is collecting blue wine bottles. She uses a tree from the woods that is cut down and stuck into the ground. The height is about 6 feet or a bit more. It just adds so much sparkle to a beautiful garden. Concrete seats and statues also add much to a flowerbed. Let your imagination run wild just for fun.

Each spring brings back memories to me of a long-ago time when Ma was planning for spring. She loved the large, dark red Rhode Island Red chickens and had just about gotten rid of a large flock of Barred Rock chickens when I was little. She ordered some of her chickens and they came through the U.S. mail, believe it or not. The great mystery to me was how someone was able to tell the sex of baby chickens. They all looked just alike to me and when I questioned Ma, she quickly changed the subject so I was left to just wonder. She specified the sex when she ordered and wanted new roosters in her flock. She sometimes set old hens on her own fine eggs and just used those chickens to kill for fryers. She also sold eggs to some neighbors who wanted to start raising Rhode Island Reds.

What I remember best about Ma’s red roosters was how mean they were. I hated to go to the outside toilet because invariably one would attack me and I had to run like the dickens to keep from getting spurred. Once, a particularly mean rooster was watching me with an evil eye and when I thought I he wasn’t looking, I ran like the wind to beat him to the toilet. All was well until I started back and there he was, just waiting. He attacked and I screamed for Ma who came running with a heavy tobacco stick to ward him off. Unfortunately, she whacked at him and accidentally hit him in the head and down he went. He lay there flopping while I looked on with glee. I remember how she said, “Oh, I have killed my beautiful rooster”. I thought to myself that I hoped she would kill the other rooster.

Ma and Pa had some pretty mean beasts on the farm. There was her old Milk cow she called Reddy, who was the devil incarnate. I could sidle through the wooden fence with the missing board next to the big gate and inch toward Ma, hoping to get by old Reddy. Most of the time, it worked but once, Reddy took a look at me, lowered her head and attacked. I ran to the fence and knew I had no time for climbing so I dived between the boards, landing in the dirt but safe! Ma’s and my screams brought Pa on the run and he said that he would dehorn “the old devil” the next day before she hurt me. Ma thought it would kill her and his answer was that he hoped so. He did and it didn’t. I hoped in vain that she would die.

To a little girl, that farm held many dangers but it was where I wanted to be.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632.
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