The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Spring is in its second full day – The cool temperatures may not be saying spring time even though the calendar does. Cool weather crops do not mind the cold of late March and they will thrive because even with cold temperatures, the ground shouldn’t freeze anymore this time of year.

Getting Christmas cactus ready for the move outside – The cactus snake plant and panda fern have wintered over in the sunny living room since early October and are looking good. We are preparing them for their move to the front porch next month. They need a small drink of water every 10 days and a shot of liquid fertilizer every month. We have had to trim the ferns several times during winter and everything is poised for a move outside in mid April.

Keeping a bale of peat moss on hand for early spring gardening – The magic elixir for any garden plot is an application of peat moss to every vegetable or flower that you plant or set out. Peat moss is totally organic and a great way to improve soil texture, remain moisture content in the rows and promote growth. It can be purchased in 3.5 cubic foot bales and spread from the bale into the rows where seeds and vegetables are planted. It has no harsh chemicals or additives so you can use as much as you want. The bales are reasonable at a cost of about $11 – a good investment in vegetable and flower production!

As spring arrives, prepare the rosebushes for a season of beauty – The roses have been in winter mode for several months and now they need our help to wake them up for a season of beautiful blooms. Start the process this week by pulling back the leaf mulch from around the base of the rosebushes and apply couple of handfuls of Vigaro pellet rose fertilizer into the soil. Prune any long canes and remove dead growth. Water the rosebushes but don’t soak them. As the month of March comes to a close now rosebushes can be planted. Consider the knock out varieties in colors of red, pink, yellow and white. They are wonderful because they bloom over a long season and they don’t produce long canes. They are packaged in plastic buckets and all you have to do is prepare a hole to plant the rose in, add peat moss to the bottom of the hole, slip the rosebush out of the bucket, fill hole with water and let it soak down, mix remaining soil with peat moss and cover the rose up to where the grass is located. Sprinkle the rosebush with water.

Dogwood birds are a sure sign of spring – From the looks of the forming buds on the dogwoods, it looks as if it is going to be a great year to enjoy the season of many blooms. Actually, the tiny birds begin to form in early winter but they are hardly noticed by most people. The birds have just about finished off the red dogwood berries that make make the new buds more visible.

Early signs of spring or a banding – The birds are more active and there are more robins coming out of hiding every day. The songs of the birds are more distinct and cheerful. The days getting brighter and longer by a minute each day. The lawn has a tiny tint of green added to it. Wild onions are making an appearance on the lawn and around the edge of the garden. Jonquils are putting on their spring show in the fragrance of the hyacinth fills the cool pre-spring air. All of nature seems to be making preparations for that very soon arrival of spring.

Irish potatoes need to be planted soon – With only a little more than a week that remains in the month of March, the crop of potatoes needs to be in the ground soon because they are a root growing crop that requires 90 or more days to mature. They need to be planted soon so you can follow them with a warm weather vegetable crop. You can choose from Irish cobbler, red Pontiac or Yukon gold. Plant potatoes without cutting into pieces to prevent mold or rot.

A row or a bed of lettuce for spring salads – Cool spring soil produces a quickie harvest of leafy green lettuce in less than 45 days. You can sow it in a row or bed that requires very little space. A packet cost less than two dollars and you can choose from many varieties that are Iceburg. Butter crunch, green ice, black seeded Simpson, Oak leaf, curly red and many other varieties. Use your index finger to make a tiny furrow and lightly sprinkle the tiny seed furrow and pinch the soil up on both sides and pat down with your palm. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Ray Baird