GARDENING ... AND MORE: Be careful with weather-sensitive plants
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Apr 02, 2014 | 59 59 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Although the average frost date for most of Kentucky is in the early part of April, it’s always possible to have frost anytime during the month, so it’s too soon to set out those more sensitive plants. In fact you should be prepared to cover those cold weather plants, which you set out in the latter part of March. A newspaper spread over them can be enough protection. The date for setting out those sensitive annuals is May 15 and I don’t know why. It’s always been the date and it usually works out pretty well.

Jonquils, or daffodils, are in bloom in most of Kentucky and if not now, then very soon. If you want to move some jonquils either because they are crowded and don’t bloom well or because the blooms are getting smaller and smaller, wait until the tops have fully ripened and yellowed. Then you can dig them and separate them and plant them wherever you want them.

Jonquils (daffodils or narcissus) are by far the easiest grown of all bulb types, being free of disease and trouble. Someone has said: “All you do is plant them, cover them and forget them until they remind you by blooming in the spring”. No hoeing, no weeding, no pruning. Did you know that even voles wouldn’t eat them?

If for some reason you find that you absolutely must move some jonquils before they ripen, lift them in a big clump of soil and, above all, get them in the ground immediately.

An old friend called me this past week and during our conversation, she mentioned remembering my grandmother’s beautiful potted ferns on the old front porch. Ma had a shelf, made from a wide board, that ran about half the length of the old front porch and she filled that shelf with plants. She especially loved asparagus ferns and always had several pots of them. Ma’s pots might have once been a big granite cooking pot or an aluminum pan or pot or even an old slop jar. She would use most anything that could no longer be used for its purpose. She didn’t have access to the lovely clay pots of today so she just “made do”, at which Ma was a master.

Many stories about Ma or Pa have been a part of this column, the reason being that they played such a big part in my life. My memories of them are very clear today and I think of them often. Pa seemed to me to be the bravest person I knew. The truth probably was that my father was as brave or more so than Pa but I never noticed that.

Pa only owned one car, a little Ford roadster. He never mastered the art of driving a car so he gave it to his young son and he went back to his mules and wagon. His son told the story of Pa’s first effort at driving a car. He managed to drive around the road to the big tobacco barn and drove through the big double doors but he forgot how to stop it and “Whoa” didn’t do the trick so he went all the way through the back doors. He said to Uncle Orbie, “It’s yours now”.

I loved to ride with my grandparents in the wagon. They often visited my parents who lived about two miles away and I knew I could always persuade my Mama and Daddy to let me go home with them. There was a very high hill, which was called the Cinder Hill because it had been paved by cinders from the old Iron Works called the Rolling Mill and going up that hill when going home with Ma and Pa was not so frightening but going back home to our house was something else. I can still remember the pure fear as we descended that hill in the mule-drawn wagon. Pa would be standing, legs apart to brace himself, Ma sitting in the seat holding onto the seat with one hand and holding onto me with the other. Pa would be holding onto the brake, a long pole attached to the wheel in some way, while calling to the mules to “Whoa” and the mules would be straining to hold back the wagon while Pa held the reins with his left hand, pulling hard on those reins. The brake scraping against the metal rim on the wagon wheel made a terrible screeching noise. I can scare myself just thinking about going down that hill. Ma sure didn’t like it either but that hill was there and it had to be descended.

If I stayed too long at my grandparents’, my daddy would ride his horse to get me. I always hid behind the flour barrel and it would be easy enough to find me and then I knew I had to leave with Daddy. I felt a lot safer atop that horse with Daddy’s arms around me than going home in Pa’s wagon. Still, I never wanted to go home. The main reason, aside from having to leave my Ma and Pa, was that I had a new baby sister whom I thought had taken my place.

What wonderful memories of long ago. I am grateful that I can remember the past so well.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 with questions or comments.
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