THE END IS NEAR FOR THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY 2016 Only three days remain in this month simply because February this year has 29 days because this is leap year. March will soon be blowing its way in, and spring is only 24 days from. The days are getting longer by a minute every day and the soon arrival of Daylight Savings Time will give us a whole extra hour of daylight. The Carolina Jasmine is still in bloom and hyacinths, crocos, tulips, jonquils are showing early signs of life. The frogs are making noise down by the creek bank and the birds are quite active at the feeders as nature is preparing for the arrival of a new season.
REMOVING ICE FROM THE BIRDBATHS The birdbath fills with ice on cold winter nights but the temperatures rise during the late morning hours. When this occurs, empty the bath and fill with fresh water, so the birds can have a drink. The mud holes are also frozen and this hinders them from a supply of water. repeat this process every day until temperatures at night get above the freezing point.
REMOVING REMAINING LEAVES FROM THE GARDEN BEDS AND LAWN As February winds down and March gets ready to make it’s arrival, leaves have still fallen during the late winter, piling up in the beds and garden plot,as well as the lawn. On a mild day, while we have plenty of sunshine crank up the leaf blower and remove the leaves to get ready for the mowing and garden season and also to keep March winds from blowing them around. Place the leaves in the compost pile or bin.
A ROW OR BED OF CABBAGE PLANTS CAN NOW BE SET IN THE GARDEN PLOT Cabbage plants are now showing up in hardwares and seed stores and they will thrive in the cold soil in the garden. When you purchase plants, leave them outside for several days before planting to harden them off and get them ready for the cold soil. Dig a furrow and set the plants about 18 inches apart. cover the plants with a layer of peat moss and then with soil, and hill the soil up on both sides of the plants. Use a sprinkler can to apply a small amount of water. Add a layer of leaf mulch around them for a bit of extra warmth and wind protection. After a couple of weeks, add liquid fertilizer every ten days.
THE LAST OF WINTER’S HARD FREEZES Ad March gets ready to make it’s arrival, the last of winter’;s hard freezes will be getting few and far between, which means the garden plot sod will be soon ready for most cool weather crops such as English peas, mustard greens, onions, broccoli plants and Irish potatoes. in areas where soil can be worked, onion sets, lettuce, carrots, cabbage and radish can now be planted. in cold soil, a good suggestion is to apply hand fulls of peat moss around seeds and plants before covering with soil. this will help plants and seeds absorbs water and retain that moisture. A layer of crushed leaves will also protect cool weather vegetables.
CHECKING OUT THE SHOOTS AND RUNNERS ON GRAPEVINES The grapevines are still dormant and will be so for another week or two. This makes it an ideal opportunity to prune back long vines and runners that will not produce grapes because they are too far from the vine. cut them back and tie the trellis and supports. remove all the pruning debris so it will not get entangled in the lawnmower and tiller.
THE ODDS OF SNOW IN MARCH ARE GOOD The odds of snow in the Piedmont are very good and some of our biggest snows have o0ccured in March. It does not have to be bone cold to snow and at a temperature of 33 degrees, it is just right for a very large snowfall, even up to twelve inches. There is magic in late winter snow that extends into the garden plot of summer. The magic of winter snow extends also to the cornfields of Midwest America, where snow covers the ground for months at a time and in summer, corn grows nine feet tall not for acres, but for miles and miles. Yes, there is magic in the late winter snow!
GETTING INDOOR PLANT WINTER-OVERS PREPARED FOR THEIR MOVE OUTSIDE These winter-overs still have six more weeks to be in the sunny living room where they are thriving and waiting for their move to the porch and deck for spring, summer, and early autumn. The Christmas cactus only need a drink of water once a week and liquid fertilizer once every month. The Panda fern and asparagus fern have to be trimmed of their runners once per month to promote growth and maintain their shape.
PLANNING A ROW OR A BED OF COLORFUL ZINNIAS FOR BEAUTY ALL SUMMER Most hardware’s, seed stores and home improvement stores, as well as Walmart, now have seed displays of zinnias in colors of red, white, yellow, pink, purple, orange and lavender and in the universal green, named Envy. Zinnias come in every color blue. Zinnias are easy to grown and bloom all summer. All they require is a shot of liquid fertilizer every ten days and a drink of water once a week. Zinnias attract plenty of butterflies and many varieties of birds. Zinnias make beautiful bouquets and flower arrangements and provide a rainbow in a row or bed. The packets of colored zinnias can be planted separately or all the seed can be mixed for an array of colors.
A COUPLE OF GREAT PRODUCING SQUASH FROM BURPEE Many mail order seed varieties are well worth ordering simply because they are productive over longer time periods. The straightneck varieties of Cosmos, Saffron and Gourmet Gold are good varieties that will continue their harvest over several weeks. Cosmos will mature in 60 days and a packet of 25 seeds costs$5.95. the Saffron matures in 55 days and a packet of 100 seeds costs $3.95. the Gourmet Gold squash also natures in 55 days and a pack of 25 seeds costs $4.95. We suggest starting the seeds in the 25 count packets off in containers of putting medium about two weeks before transplanting in the garden. plant two seeds per container.
AN INTERESTING NEW KALE VARIETY FROM BURPEE This new kale produces a harvest in less than 80 days and in a three-in-one combo of green, blue, and purple kale. There are 20 pellets in a packet and each pellet contains blue, green and purple kale for easy planting in the gardens, beds and even in the containers on the deck, patio, or porch. A packet of 20 pellets costs $6.95 and is very much worth a test in the spring and autumn garden plot.
THE STARDUST RUNNER GREEN BEAN FROM PARK SEED This unusual runner green bean produces beans up to 12 inches long, tender and string less, and it produces big harvests. they grow tall so prepare to stake them for best production. A packet costs $47.95 and contains 100 seeds, which should plant a four foot by eight foot bed. This will be one of our raised bed experiments for 2016.
THE HEAVY-PRODUCING “TENDERETTE” FROM PARK SEED The “Tenderette” green bean is a bushy type that produces over a long season on five to six inch pods, just 58 days from planting. you can order one quarter pound of “Tenderettes” from Park Seed for $3.95 or a half-pound for $7.75.
Ray Baird has been providing gardening tips to the community for years and can be reached at 336-969-9350 or at BSylvia1946@gmail.com.