On lamb days our imaginations gallop into extravagant visions of glorious harvests and perfect landscapes. Lion days plunge us firmly back into our dormant winter moods. Yet because this is March, …
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On lamb days our imaginations gallop into extravagant visions of glorious harvests and perfect landscapes. Lion days plunge us firmly back into our dormant winter moods.
Yet because this is March, nature’s see-saw does diminish as spring’s gentle lamb vanquishes winter’s lion. The good news is that we can start limited planting in March. For impatient gardeners, mid-to-late March will be acceptable for some cool weather veggie planting in sunny sheltered areas. I usually do some of my impatient early seeding in containers near my house. Colorado’s notoriously fickle weather calls for caution in the planting department.
Since an increasing number of tomato lovers are growing their own tomato plants from seed, late March is the time to start the process. Because we don’t set tomato plants outdoors until Memorial Day, starting seeds too early makes the plants too leggy and results in your having to transplant them into larger containers.
Although we can’t do full-scale planting this month, there is much we can do outdoors on pleasant days. Begin soil preparation in areas where the soil is dry. (Never work soggy soil.)
Weeds and unwanted grass have already emerged, so warm up those winter-stiff muscles and start weed control – by hand, not with chemicals. It’s very therapeutic, builds muscle and burns lots of calories. It’s even free! All of this will save you time when the busy real gardening season begins.
Q. My grandfather complains about the boring squash varieties available now, and he does have pictures of unusual-looking large winter squash he once grew, to prove his point. Where can I locate seeds for “interesting” winter squash?
A. I’m not certain what specific squashes you are seeking, but I located a company with heirloom seeds that shows amazing different varieties. Bear Creek Heirloom Seeds in Mansfield, Missouri (rareseeds.com) might have what you want. They also have a gazillion different tomato seeds.
Q. I’m becoming more interested in offering nutritional food for my family and have started using daikon radishes in salads, etc., which, surprisingly, my family likes. How difficult is daikon to grow?
A. Easy, if you live in Portland or Seattle. The problem is that daikon requires water and dislikes heat. I’ve tried it several times with very limited success, and that was years ago when we had a damp summer. I gave up because I needed my limited garden space for vegetables that would really produce.
Q. What are the new plants developed for 2013? Any good ones for this area?
A. Because of our continuing, increasingly serious drought and our hot summers, I suggest you stick with proven Plant Select items available through local nurseries and at the Denver Botanic Gardens spring sale. However, there is a new heat tolerant heuchera that you might like. Heuchera Paprika is a peach-orange color that will contrast nicely against dark or silver foliage. Sedum blue pearl is an unusual dark blue/purple sedum that does grow tall, so plan accordingly.
There’s also another cleome. Senorita Blanca has all-season pink flowers on a thornless plant. Finally, there’s a summer-blooming dwarf thornless raspberry – Raspberry Shortcake – that is ideal for small spaces.
Q. How should I treat the potted daffodils and hyacinths I received for Valentine’s Day?
A. Water them as you would any indoor plant and then plant them outdoors at least six inches deep in late April. Let the foliage die back naturally. With luck they’ll bloom next spring. These two respond fairly well to their new environment; potted tulips do not and are best just put in your compost pile after blooming.
Q. A friend and I are discussing heirloom seeds. She says they are pure and not artificially modified, but don’t they lose their potency over the years and produce less robust plants?
A. Not really. This actually is becoming quite an issue in the plant word now because huge companies such as Monsanto are beginning to have a monopoly on seeds you buy. They are buying smaller companies and genetically modifying seeds to produce ever-higher yields, but these genetically-modified seeds are causing allergies and other health problems. Read Wheat Belly by William Davis for more on this.
Approximately 50 percent of America’s heirloom corn supply is already contaminated by GMO varieties because corn pollen floats so easily in the air. In fact, one organic seed company had to go to Ukraine to find unadulterated seed.
Heirloom seeds are genetic treasures that have been handed down for generations when everyone saved and traded seeds with great pride.
For more information on this, check Occupy Monsanto: occupymonsanto360.org. Then you can make your own informed decisions.
Out of one Wintry Twig, one bud One blossom’s worth of warmth at long last!
To a pleasant, traditional March.
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