Fun in The Sun (and Snow)...
The good news is that the sun is brightly shining and the
snow is slowly melting. The only people I know who seem to be
bothered by the melting are our two sons. You would think that
they had never seen snow before. They want to be in it, on top
of it, covered with it and,
I certainly can't leave out, throwing
it. Kevin and I stood inside and watched from the window as the
two of them, Noah and Jake, hurled what seemed to be an endless
amount of snowballs at one another. Of course you know how that
goes. Everything seems to be going just fine - they are having a
great time and then BAM, someone is hit in the face
and it's time to come inside. If was fun watching the two
of them having so much fun and I loved the idea of them being
outside together. It brought back fond memories of my childhood
and doing the same thing with my sisters.
there seems to be plenty of snow on the ground and a chance of
more on the way, keep your eyes on the faster melting areas.
This will show you where you are getting more sun and will guide
you with plant placement and selection in the spring. Weather
can tell you so much about your garden. Stop, look and listen.
Make notes and keep track of what you are seeing. You will
reward yourself in the end with a garden that is forever
changing with the seasons.
Lawns and shrubs can be damaged by the various
chemicals and salts we use to melt ice and snow. Savvygardeners
can minimize the risk of damage by following a few simple steps
when de-icing walks and driveways:
Use an ice melting substitute or calcium
chloride that is gentler on the landscape than salt.
Before applying such a product, shovel
off as much snow as possible.
Apply the de-icing product down the
middle of your sidewalk or driveway.
Shovel any treated snow or ice into the
street or driveway. Any place but your lawn.
While it generally takes 8 -10
inches of snow to equal just one-inch of rain you can
maximize the irrigating effects of last weekend's snow with a little extra work.
When you're shoveling the walks and driveway simply transfer that
(untreated) snow to your garden beds. As it melts your gardens will
benefit from the extra moisture.
Approach To Houseplant Pests...
Insects on houseplants are a major pain.
Not only are they hurting your plants but control measures using
chemicals are pretty undesirable to a lot of homeowners. Here
are three control approaches that minimize risk to you and your
pick-off caterpillars, slugs, and other larger pests.
Swab pests with a small brush or
cotton swab moistened with rubbing alcohol. This method is
feasible when plants are small and infestations very light. It
is tedious and must be done once a week over a period of time.
- Plants can also
be washed in a diluted mixture of
water and insecticidal soap, or
gently spray-washed with lukewarm water. Repeated
washings over a period of time are necessary to gradually
infestation is severe, it may be preferable to discard the plant
and replace it rather than attempt chemical control.
Tipping The Scale...
Now is a great time to inspect your trees and shrubs for scale
insects. With the leaves off the trees, inspecting the stems and
bark crevices is much easier. Go slowly and look carefully, since
many types of scale look like a part of the branch or otherwise
blend in well with the host plant. Plan an application of
horticultural oil if scale populations are above tolerable
levels. Horticultural oil can be applied at any time of year, but
temperatures should be at 40°F or higher for 24 hours after an
application. Be sure to read and follow all directions on the
So, you're getting ready to start some seeds indoors and
don't know if last year's leftovers are still good. Well, you
can start by checking the typical
viability of 20 popular vegetable seeds in the table below:
absolutely sure here's a trick we use to determine if seeds are
- Take ten seeds
from the package and place them on a paper towel that you have
moistened with warm water.
- Fold the paper
towel over to cover the seeds.
- Keep the towel
moist and warm (on top of the fridge usually works for warmth)
until they start to germinate.
- If less than six
seeds (60%) germinate you might as well throw the rest away.
- If six or more
germinate it will be worthwhile to plant the rest.
- Don't waste your
test seeds! The ones that germinate should be carefully moved
to your preferred seedling container and cared for until ready
for transplanting outdoors.
The coat of certain seed is extremely tough and must be
penetrated by special means. Particularly hard seed may be
scarified. Scarification involves breaking, scratching or
softening the seed coat to allow moisture penetration. Two
methods of scarification commonly used by the home gardener are
mechanical and hot water.
scarification involves breaking or weakening the seed coat
with a file, sandpaper or hammer.
- Hot water
scarification involves placing seeds in water that is 170°
After the water cools, seeds should continue to soak for 12 to
are planted. Specific instructions for scarification are usually
mentioned on the seed packet or in the seed catalog.
All Set For
Onions are one of the earliest crops that can be planted in
the garden - late March in most of eastern and central Kansas.
As they usually require 6 to 8 weeks of growing time before
transplanting they should be started indoors now. Plant onion
seeds fairly close together -
½ to ¾
inches apart in a pot or flat filled
with commercial seed starting mix. (A lot of onion plants can
be grown in a small area.) Place the container in a warm (75º
to 80º F) location until the seedlings
emerge. When the seedlings are 1 to 2 inches tall, move them to
a cooler (60º to 65º
F) location with plenty of natural or artificial light. After
the onion seedlings are 2 to 3 inches tall, apply a soluble
fertilizer with each or alternate waterings. When they are 4 to
5 inches tall "give them a haircut" by trimming the ends of the
leaves to produce a shorter, stockier plant. In early March,
move the plants to an outdoor, protected location for a few
weeks prior to actual transplanting.
"Exclusiveness in a
garden is a mistake as great as it is in society."