Archive for March, 2010

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Here Comes the Sun

March 5, 2010

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On rainless winter days when the sun shines, Ralphie and I head outdoors for a walk. (It’s too wet to garden.) The sunlight is exhilarating. I feel like skipping and nearly do as Ralphie’s little feet quickly march ahead, the leash taut. It’s still winter, but not for long. Signs are everywhere. Nightfall pulls in noticeably later. Stringy willow twigs dangle from branches dotted with pinhead-size buds. Green field grasses practically kiss my knees.

During one of our recent walks—between showers—the flowering plum tree (Prunus x blireiana) pictured below was beautifully dressed in pink blooms. Sure looks like spring to me!

Even this mushroom took on a pinkish hue as it curled upward to catch the sunlight. 

 

The sun’s magic spell renewed hope that day—God knows I needed it—with fresh beginnings and a big fat boost of vitamin D. At the end of our walk, the sky suddenly turned grey. Nonetheless, buoyancy remained in my veins. This flock of birds perched on the Locust tree near the house wasn’t disheartened either. They continued to sing here comes the sun.

 

Copyright © 2010 Dianne Marie Andre

 

 

 

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March Garden Tasks

March 1, 2010

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Please note:  What I write in this space are lessons learned through trial and error, research, and from other gardeners and professionals. I garden in zone 9, but share garden experiences that I believe are relevant to most zones within a reasonable time frame and planting conditions.

March . . . the bridge between late winter and early spring. This is the time frame when gardeners itch to get his or her hands dirty, and can’t wait to spend spare hours in the garden. For many of us, though, it’s still too early to plant summer annuals and veggies outdoors, but there are plenty of garden tasks and spring plantings to keep us satisfied. Here are a few.

In the vegetable gardenIndoors sow seeds of eggplant, lettuce, peppers, Swiss chard, tomatoes. Outdoors direct-seed beets, carrots, lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach. Transplant your seedlings of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, parsley, and onions. Feed fruit trees, berries, and grapes; check with your local nursery professional for organic fertilizers.

In the landscape:  Use a slow-release fertilizer around shrubs and perennials. Feed rhododendrons when buds emerge and for fuchsias when signs of new leaves appear. Remember to use fertilizer designed especially for these and for azaleas and camellias. Gardenias should receive one feeding starting mid-March, and again in April and May. Apply preventive spray to roses for mildew, rust, and blockspot. Before leafing-out begins transplant shrubs and roses.

Outdoors, sow seeds of columbine, foxglove, poppy, stock, delphinium, violet. Plant gladiolus bulbs every two weeks. Other bulbs are dahlias, cannas, lycoris eucomis, kniphofia, and tuberous begonias. Feed bulbs that have bloomed recently. If your region is free of frost danger, direct-plant pansies, snapdragons, Lobella, and violas. Indoors, sow annuals such as morning glories, Zinnias, asters, marigolds, coleus, vinca, petunia, and impatiens.

If you didn’t cover the soil last fall with mulch, to prevent weeds, you can do this now in areas where you’re not going to plant. Place a thick layer (3-6 inches) so the weeds don’t receive light, which is required for seeds to germinate. Keep mulch 3-6 inches away from base of plants. If too close (or placed against trunks), rot and disease can occur. It’s also an invitation for insects to attack your plants. Organic mulches to consider are non-chemically treated grass clippings, straw, wood chips, shredded leaves.

Copyright © 2010 Dianne Marie Andre

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