Ray Baird

AN UNUSUAL DRINK FOR AN EARLY SPRING AFTERNOON If you would like a tonic for the remainder of the winter blahs, maybe you can find it in a glass of dandelion tea, now that the dandelion leaves are appearing on early spring lawns. The recipe is so very simple. For a large glass of tea, boil young dandelion leaves that have been washed through several washes. Place leaves in a quart of boiling water and boil for four to five minutes and then let the leaves steep for five minutes. Use a tea strainer to strain the leaves. Add sugar and lemon to taste. A little hint: you may desire to add a little Mountain Dew to tone the tea down! It may be a cure for an early spring cough too.

GETTING READY FOR SOME EARLY HUMMINGBIRDS Spring is only days old and April is a week from now and it would not be unusual to see a few hummingbirds arriving to search for food from any source they can find. Many flowers are not even close to blooming so you and I can be their source of food if we place a feeder out as April approaches. Even though only a few hummers may appear, they will remember they have found a food source and they will keep coming back. You can find hummingbird food at seed stores, hardware, garden departments and home improvement stores. You can buy it pre-mixed, powdered or concentrates to be mixed with water. When April arrives, don’t wait until you see a hummer to place your feeder- have yours ready for their return.

GETTING THE CHRISTMAS CACTUS READY FOR A MOVE OUTSIDE All four of them are ready for the move in about two more weeks to make the move from the sunny living room window where they have bloomed and wintered over to a semi-sunny location on the front porch. The cactus need a shot of liquid fertilizer once a month and a drink of water every eight to ten days.

INVESTING IN A WATER WAND FOR GARDEN SEASON AHEAD You can save water with an adjustable setting water wand that applies water only where you need it instead of all over the garden plot. A durable wand can apply a steady stream when you plant a seed in a furrow or spray and mist directly in growing plants without water wasted between the rows. If you have raised beds, you can spray the whole bed one at a time without flooding the beds. A good durable wand costs around twelve dollars and will probably save enough water in a year to more than pay for itself.

A ROW OF DEEP WINE IN THE GARDEN PLOT Many people shun beets as a vegetable in their garden plot because they are misunderstood like the carrot. Both need deep, soft soil to produce their root crop over a long growing season. The beet seed are hard as a brick and when planted, the seeds need to be laid on a thick bed of peat moss in the furrow and then watered with a layer of water preferably from a water wand set on the “stream” setting, then plant the seed a few inches apart, cover with another layer of peat moss and then cover with two to three inches of soil, tamp down and spray again. This will soften the seeds and get them off to a good start. Allow beets plenty of time and space, plant two beets per hill and thin when they get two inches tall. Beets will require a 90 day season. Maybe this is why gardeners do not grow them. The best beet for our area is the Detroit Dark Red variety. As the beets grow taller, Keep soil hilled up to them and fertilize every two weeks with liquid fertilizer.

ENJOYING THE EXTRA HOUR OF DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME An added plus as spring gets on the way is enjoying the extra hour of daylight. This gives extra time to prepare the garden plot as well as the lawn for the 2016 growing season. In early spring it does not take long to get used to that extra hour of daylight.

GETTING READY FOR ANOTHER MOWING SEASON The grass is getting to be a shade of Kelly green and will soon be ready to mow. On a cool spring afternoon, start the mower and let it run for a few minutes. Oil the wheels, check and tighten all bolts and nuts, check the mowers housing and out clippings. Spray the housing with a coating of light oil spray. Check the oil and filter. If you have a riding mower, you may want to have it serviced and tuned up as well as check belts and blades. While it is early in the season, this is the best time to get your mower serviced.

BEGINNING THE SEARCH FOR THE RIGHT SEED The season for warm weather vegetables is still over a month away but it is not too early too purchase seeds, peat moss, fertilizer and other garden supplies.

OUT LIKE A LAMB OR A LION The month of March can go out either way, but we are hoping it goes out like a lamb and also that this carries over to April. We know the month of April can be fickle month, but also a month of better things in the garden plot. Surely we can expect warmer days, even though the nights are cool.

LATE MARCH IS A TIME TO PLANT PERENNIAL FLOWER POTS Perennials are wonderful because they produce green foliage all year long and some, like Candy Tuft and Sweet William will bloom even into winter. At this time of year, most hardware and seed stores have tables of perennials for you to choose from. Perennials are very care free and as they grow they can be trimmed to the size and shape you want them. Some can be transplanted to other pots and given to friends. Some tough varieties that produce color and foliage all year long without moving them inside the house are Dusty Miller, Diantos, Sweet William, Forget-me-nots, American, bee balm, coral bells, creeping fox, Veronica and Columbine. Transplant them to large containers with fine potting medium and they will quickly grow into beautiful shape before Autumn arrives and give beauty and durability in all four seasons. You can also plant Pink Thrift, Hen and Chicks, and Bugle Weed.

THE FULL WORM MOON OF MARCH The Full Moon Worm Moon was high in the sky last night and will shine brightly all night tonight. With cool temperatures, and if the night is clear, this should be a brighter silver moon to gaze upon. Take a few moments to admire this beautiful moon.

Ray Baird has been providing gardening tips to the community for years and can be reached at 336-969-9350 or at

Ray Baird

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