A DIRTY GIRL'S GARDEN

March Gardening To Do List

crocusSpring arrives March 20, it is time to get out and garden!  Here is what you need to do to get ready!

1) Check houseplants for insects.  Take a thorough look at the leaves for any sticky residue, or any discoloration on the leaves from scale, mealy bugs and mites.  Control with Insecticidal soap or a pyrethrum based pesticide.

2) Rotate houseplants a 1/4 turn each week and mist 2-3 timer per week.

3) Start feeding houseplants, weekly with a 10-15-10 fertilizer.

4) Prune Fruit Trees, if you have not already. Apply Horticultural Oil to control pre-emerging insects before the first sign of leaf growth appears.

5) March 17, time to plant your peas.

6) Plant cool season vegetables, like lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, and arugula.

7)  Mulch strawberries with straw.

8) Dig and Divide perennials

9)  Apply a pre-emergent herbicide, Step 1 to control crab grass.

A DIRTY GIRL'S GARDEN

Spring into Gardening with Containers

IMG_1823.JPGSPRING INTO GARDENING WITH CONTAINERS

Container gardening is one of the quickest ways to jump start the growing season.  Once the snow has melted and the northerly winds of winter shift slightly to the south, spring is not far behind. Ahead is the rebirth of all that is green and glorious in the garden. Bulbs are bursting with color and Pansies and Primrose are filling the air with their sweet scent of the season.

Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths and Pansies are not exclusive to the garden flower bed anymore, nor are they the only cool weather annuals available.  This spring try combining flowering bulbs together in pots for instant color.  Or, wow your friends with some unique design know-how by grouping different cool weather annuals, perennial, and edible in containers.

When planting any type of container garden begin with a centerpiece or tallest plant in the arrangement.  Consider perennial Columbine and Hellebore both have delicate flowers and soft color palette.  Another alternative is the little known annual bulb Ranunculus.  This beautiful flower has the look of a cabbage rose and continues to bloom throughout the spring.  The colors range from bright orange, to the softest yellow and the hottest red.

Osteospermum, commonly known as African Daisy is beautiful bloomer during the spring.  These vibrant colored flowers can last through the summer.  The ‘Symphony’ series is a great example. The ‘Lemon Symphony’ variety is a soft pale yellow that is the perfect compliment to any color palette you choose.  If you want to add a little fragrance to the garden add Stock, an annual with medium size flower stalks and a delicious spicy fragrance.  Nemesia, another favorite spring annual, adds a sweet fragrance and delicate texture to any container combination.

Pansies are the perennial favorites with there wide range of colors and faces. Primroses are great for early spring planting.  They tolerate the coolest of temps and can be planted later on in the garden. For a softer texture try a pot of Alyssum, an annual that blooms throughout the early summer.  Alyssum adds brightness with its white color  and sweet fragrance flowing over the container.  Even Petunias, Million Bells and lush green English Ivy can make their seasonal debut in the month of April if we are lucky!

Don’t be afraid to add an edible or two.  Cool season starter vegetables and herbs are available now at your local garden center and ready to plant.  I always add a little red and green lettuce or Swiss Chard to my containers. It adds texture and variety, along with being  delicious to eat!

pansy obliskIf you are looking for architectural interest consider adding an obelisk or trellis to the large pot, or bunches of cut curly willow, pussy willow, or forced Forsythia branches,  these can add new dimension to your display.

Remember spring containers should not remain empty waiting to be filled with summer annuals.  Try some of these new ideas to bring your containers to life this spring season.

A DIRTY GIRL'S GARDEN

April Gardening To Do List

bicolor tulipsApril showers will bring May flowers, but don’t let that stop you from getting out to the garden.

What you need to do this month in your garden.

1) Divide and transplant perennials, like iris, daylilies, shasta daisies and phlox.

2) Fertilize Trees and shrubs.

3) Prepare garden beds for spring planting.  Add compost and begin planting spinach, potatoes, onion sets and other cole crops.

4) Cover and protect tender plantings from frost and freeze with row covers.  

5) Begin in late April to harden off
your vegetable seedlings http://gardensonthego.com/hardening-off-seeds/  to prepare for planting outdoors.

6) Begin feeding and apply a systemic fungicide for roses to control blackspot when roses begin to show leaf growth.

7) Plant pansies and spring container gardens.http://gardensonthego.com/spring-into-gardening-with-containers-2/

8) Prune nonflowering shrubs and lightly shear evergreens.

9) Clean up perennial beds, cut down dead stalks and cut back ornamental grasses before they push growth.

10) Cut back butterfly bush.

A DIRTY GIRL'S GARDEN

Hardening Off Seeds

Cabbage starters Once you have successfully grown your seeds indoors you need to move them outdoors for the growing season.

Seedlings are very tender and delicate in the early stages of growth.  They need to be moved outside gradually to become adjusted to a brighter light source and fluctuating temperatures, this is called ’hardening off.’

Hardening off is not as scary as it may sound. Transitioning your seedlings can be done in a few easy steps.

1.Take your seedlings outside to a protected location. Once the temperatures reach the mid 60’s to 70 degrees move seedling trays to a covered patio or any sheltered location for one hour. Increase the time one hour per day.

2.Be sure to keep them away from any direct light and harsh winds in the beginning.  I usually like to do this on a cloudy or overcast warm spring day.  By the end of the week they will have been exposed to 7 hours of light.  Continue moving them out to a more direct light source gradually.

3. Don’t let seedlings dry out.  Make sure you keep your trays evenly moist.  The gradual introduction to light and air, from ambient wind or breeze, will dry plants out faster than if they we’re in a controlled environment.

Your seedlings are like your little babies.  After all you did cultivate them from seed.  Treat them tenderly and give them a fighting chance once you send them out to the big world called your garden.

A DIRTY GIRL'S GARDEN

February Gardening ‘To Do’ List

black and white watering can

Before the spring season officially arrives get started in the garden with these projects:

1. Start seeds for cool season crops. Now is the perfect time to plant seeds for lettuces, cabbage, broccoli and early fruiting tomatoes. You can even start planting flowering verbena, stock and pansies. Be sure to check the seed packets to check germination times.

2. Start fertilizing houseplants.  Schedule weekly fertilizing for your houseplants. Use an all purpose 20-20-20 formula. Remember to mist leaves 2-3x per week. And rotate 1/4 turn.

3. Prune fruit trees and spray with horticultural oil.

4. Sharpen tools and take inventory of your tool shed.

5. Cut branches to force flowering indoors. Branches like magnolia, forsythia, and quince are great to force flowering so you can enjoy a taste of spring.

6. Force bulbs to flower indoors. Tulips and daffodils will bloom in mid March if planted now.  Crocus and grape hyacinths will bloom in early March.

 

A DIRTY GIRL'S GARDEN

Care for Winter Houseplants

Only 36 days left until spring!  UGH! 36 days, I know I can’t take another minute, let alone 36 days!  I thrive and crave full sun and longer days.  My skin hates the forced dry air from the heater running all the time.  Sound familiar?  Well, if you said yes think about how your tropical houseplants plants feel.

Shorter winter days can be cruel on your indoor houseplants.  Leaf edges can turn brown and the plant becomes out of shape.

I avoid these problems by following these simple rules…

1. Increase Humidity…plants love humidity, especially indoor tropicals.  Make sure you keep plants away from forced dry heat vents.  Increase humidity by placing the plant on a bed of moist crushed stones, cluster your plants together if possible, or mist the leaves 2-3 times per week.

2. Rotate…plants are phototropic, meaning they lean, or grow in the direction of the light.  With  daylight slowing increasing by each day, plants are stretching toward the brightest area.   This forces a normally full healthy looking plant to become irregular.  Make sure you rotate 1/4 – 1/2 spin per week.

What are you doing to get through the next 36 days of winter?