Horticulture News Update and a Garden Calendar

The thaw that often comes in January eluded us this year , but on February 21st the temperature in Sundown rose to 53 F. The moths and other insect activity told me spring was near. The woolly bear I found on the road told me. The delicate pink/green of the catkins on my hazelnut bushes told me. Not surprisingly, what leaps to my mind is e. e. cummings' poem in Just- . The words "mud-luscious" and "puddle-wonderful" now tell me spring is near.

Some good news. The monarch butterfly population has made a stunning recovery after the killing winter storm of '01-'02 in Mexico that claimed nearly half a billion. Numbers that returned this past winter were far greater than anticipated.

More good news. Fans of Christmas trees and Christmas tree farmers have real cause to celebrate. As of Jan. 1, 2003, the NYS Fire Code permits the display of real Christmas trees in public and residential buildings.

Other bits and pieces."In these times of conflict and uncertainty, we know that gardens are healing and create connections within families and neighborhoods." These are words spoken by Natl. Gardening Assn. president, Valerie Kelsey in declaring April, Natl. Gardening Month. The theme this, the first year, will be the power of gardening to transform lives. (for more:

Another coast to coast non-profit, the Natl. Garden Bureau, has declared 2003 the "Year of the Poppy" and the "Year of the Bean". You will surely see promotions of the merits of both in all the media.

A very significant drought related story. Aurora is the third largest city in Colorado. The city's reservoirs are down to 25% capacity and as a result the city has banned plantings of annuals, vegetables, and new lawns for 2003.

Perennials, trees and shrubs may be planted until May 3 only, and may be watered only with deep-root or drip irrigation. Shades of things to come? Stay tuned.

As I said above, spring is near. And, as promised, I have a garden calendar for the coming few weeks. Forgive me if I repeat myself somewhat, but it is important not to forget information that is timely.

Now through mid-April is the preferred time to prune apple, pear and raspberry and deciduous trees and shrubs grown for blossoms that bloom on new wood. Don't be afraid to sacrifice some blooms on those that set bud last year (rhodos, azaleas, laurels,lilacs, andromedas, hollies). Conditions are very favorable for renovation and removal of excessive growth. Temps are cool, plants are dormant, and soil is moist. Ideal. And plants will renew themselves with true vigor.

The snow will go. As soon as you see bulb foliage, fertilize these beds with3 lbs. of 5-10-10 per 100 sq. ft..

Soon, you'll see signs of asparagus and rhubarb. These can be fed with the same 5-10-10 at 1-1/2lbs. per 25 feet of row.

If temps are expected to stay above 40F for 24 hours, you can spray fruit trees with dormant oil or horticultural oil (Sunspray).

Clean out and repair nesting boxes for birds.

Begin a garden diary. Include details, successes, failures, transplant dates, sources, and corrective measures to noted problems. You'll be all the wiser.

You can safely start your choice of the following seeds indoors: parsley, brussels sprouts, early cabbage, cauliflower, early celery, eggplant, head lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, sweet Spanish onions, leeks, pansies, petunias, wax begonias, and impatiens.

If you enjoy early blooming perennials, now is the time to look into perennials that bloom in March and April and note in your diary so you can plant your preferences.

Vegetables can be very decorative (ornamental) plants. Plan ahead.

You have a right to know where your food is coming from. Ask where it's from.

Less expensive is not always a bargain. We are living in a world that is heavily dependent on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and hormones. What is cosmetically the most appealing may not be your best choice. Know your foods' origins.

A patriotic scenario in my back yard: A field of white snow beneath my bird feeders, the only attendees on the snow, a blue jay and a male cardinal. Three cheers. American spring is near.


From The Garden of Ed. Submitted for publication in The Towne Crier on March 11, 2003

© 2003 Ed Mues. All Rights Reserved.