Garden.True.North is about gardening in Zone 3,
sharing thoughts, ideas and tips for all northern gardeners.
sharing thoughts, ideas and tips for all northern gardeners.
Late winter and early spring are the time to check out catalogs, place seed orders and start seeds. Learn more about several seed starting techniques from Sue Reinardy, UW-Extension Master Gardener Volunteer in an upcoming webinar. Sue has volunteered her time to create and deliver this webinar that will feature: deciphering catalog and seed package jargon, proper planting conditions and several techniques including the winter sown planted method that you can start now.
This webinar can be attended from any home computer or device with an internet connection, microphone and camera. Instructions to access the course will be provided a few days before the start of the class. Registration is required through WITC at courses.witc.edu Enter "Early Seed Starting" in the search box. The registration fee is $13.50, and for those 62+ it is $9.00 .
Most spring bulbs need a 12-15 week chilling period. Try dwarf species or hybrids for the best results. I plant mine in potting soil in nursery pots and put them in the vegetable crisper of the beer refrigerator and covered with plastic to keep in the moisture. Avoid putting them with other fruits and vegetables that may emit a gas that will cause them to rot. Be sure to label with the date and species.
Paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceus) are the exception needing no chilling period. I keep those bulbs in the fridge unpotted.
Here are some bulbs that are especially suited to forcing:
Here in the North we don't find it unusual to have "summer" and "snow" in the same sentence. This post is about one of my favorite spring bulbs, the Giant or Summer Snowflake, Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’. Leucojum is a small genus of bulbous plants belonging to the Amaryllis family. Currently the genus includes only two known species; the giant or summer snowflake (Leucojum aestivum) and the spring snowflake (Leucojum vernum). These bulbs are similar to the more common Galanthus or snowdrops. The snowdrops usually are first to rise -- often peeking through the snow. Leucojum or snowflakes, follow later. My Summer Snowflakes are just ending their bloom period after giving me enjoyment and some darn nice bouquets for three weeks.
Definition of “Falsy”: Okay, I’ll let you look up the definition. For this article I’m using the term to define plants that have in their common name the word “False”.
I wander around nurseries with hardly any idea about what I want, hoping that I will see something interesting to fit my garden. I’ve found some good plants this way. And I like wandering around greenhouses. However, this is not the best way to select plants because when I get home I end up walking around my garden with said plant in hand wondering where to put this new acquisition.
I have some criteria for perennials in my garden: longevity, low maintenance, hardy in my climate, resistant to diseases and pests, no winter protection needed, long blooming or attractive foliage, not invasive, and doesn’t need staking. But sometimes I just want to have fun and I throw all those important criteria out. Sometimes that fun is something that has an interesting name.
In the next few weeks I’m going to write about plants that have such unappealing names it’s a wonder they are offered by greenhouses and nurseries. It’s a testament to how good these plants are that they have overcome horrible common names. When at the garden center, don’t dismiss these after looking at their name tags. I’m placing these plants into five categories.
I know it doesn't look like much but the first leaf of the lilac indicates that it is time to plant beets, cole crops (broccoli, kale, cabbage, turnips, etc.), lettuce, and spinach. This is not just folklore but backed up phenology, the study of the timing of natural events. Lilacs are most commonly used for observation and to time gardening activity. I checked the soil temperature in my garden, it is 55-60 degrees. That is well in the range for these crops.
Here are some other indicators for planting:
May is one of the busiest months for gardening. That is especially so this year with our very late spring. Compressed into a few shorts weeks is garden clean-up from the long winter, prepping the vegetable and annual beds, visiting the garden centers for fresh new plants, and planting. Planting should be delayed until frost danger is at a minimum. Let’s face it, in our northern zone frost danger can happen any time during the growing season. Let’s get gardening!
I was reminded by an article by Olivia Heath in www.HouseBeautiful.com that gardening can be an exercise program. A British TV gardener and a retailer created a program calculating that a recommended daily allowance for gardening of 30 minutes a day boosts physical and mental health. In my viewpoint, not only will 30 minutes a day provide health benefits, but my garden would look a whole lot better. It’s actually pretty genius to embrace that goal since it would meet my exercise goal and my gardening tasks with one action. In other words, two check-marks on my daily to-do list.
April is one of those months where winter continues or spring makes an appearance. I’m anxious to get out into the garden but right now it is under 2 feet of snow. As soon as that white stuff has melted there are a few things that can still be done. Pruning dormant trees and bushes is tops on my list once I no longer need to use snowshoes to get to those plants. This is also the month to start seeds. Let’s get gardening.
Do you want no raking, no removing debris, no hauling mulch and drastically reduced work in cleaning up your perennial beds this spring? The equipment you will need is your lawn mower and broadcast spreader. And the timing is just about now, well not quite now with snow and ice still on the ground. But pretty soon.
* Early Seed Starting Webinar, April 3, 2019 6:00-7:30 pm, register with WITC at witc.edu in continuing education