It’s Easter Weekend!
Back in my younger years, Good Friday was truly the kickoff for the spring gardening season. Back then, it was ‘taters and onions, packaged vegetable seeds, cabbage and collard plants, bare-root fruit trees and roses, some grass seed, packaged privet, forsythia, bridalwreath spirea, and a few other flowering shrubs. And, we closed the garden stores for 2 hours so the employees could go to church, and then it was back to work. Oh, those were the good old days! (Of course, when I was younger, you could buy multi-colored colored chicks and ducks at the local feed store.)
[A line of rabbits walking backwards would be a receding hairline.]
*EASTER FLOWERS HAVE ARRIVED! – If you receive Easter lilies this week (the traditional flower of Easter), place it in a bright naturally lit location in the house, away from hot or cold drafts. As the blooms open, remove those yellow anthers on the inside of each blossom with a pair of scissors, and don’t let that pollen get on your clothes! It will stain! Water well, and make sure there’s no water sitting in the saucer or inside the foil pot cover. Water again when the top of the soil feels dry. Remove each flower as it fades, and eventually, remove the entire top just below the last flower. Keep growing your lily indoors until early May, when you can move it outside and plant it in your garden. The lily may or may not re-grow and flower this year, but will come back for you next year, for it’s normal summer flowering.
NOTE: It is known that Easter lilies are highly toxic to cats. Please keep your lilies away from your cat’s reach.
[Rabbits only wear 14-carrot gold jewelry. Too much "bling" for a rabbit?]
*I WANT TO FEED THE NATURAL WAY - Now that spring has arrived, lawn care will become a major priority. And one request I seem to be getting more and more, is if I can recommend a natural alternative to feeding the lawn, rather than the usual synthetic fertilizers.
Natural fertilizers typically feed slower, help to preserve the biotic quality of the soils, and help to encourage earthworms and microbial activity. Now, there are many natural alternatives for feeding your lawns available in the garden stores, 2 of which have been around for quite some time.
Milorganite is a processed sewage sludge that’s been feeding lawns for over 75 years. The formula of 6-2-0 is perfect for lawns, it’s all natural, high in iron and calcium, and the slow release of available nutrients feeds the lawn over and extended period of time. As an added benefit, Milorganite has also been noted as a deer repellent. By using it to feed the lawn, it may also help to keep those deer moving on to the next yard!
Espoma’s Plant Food is another all natural fertilizer that’s been feeding lawns for over 75 years. This fertilizer, a 5-3-3 formula, is made from a mixture of manures, feather meal, crab meal, cocoa meal, kelp, alfalfa, and several other natural ingredients. Again, all slow release, giving your lawn and extended feeding period, naturally.
As a matter of fact, Milorganite can be used to feed many different types of plants, including the garden, and Epsoma offers and entire line of all natural fertilizers for use around your plants.
[In Germany, the Easter Bunny is called "Oster Haas".]
*THERE’S STILL TIME! – There’s still time for dormant sprays, dormant pruning, and dormant seeding if needed. For Pre-emergent herbicide applications, you have until the forsythia quit blooming. As your spring bulbs begin to show good green, be sure to feed them with a bulb food. This is an important feeding! Cut back those ornamental grasses, fluff the mulch, cut off dead perennial foliage, remove dead foliage and debris from the landscape and garden beds (you’ll get rid of many over-wintering insects and diseases doing this) and get that mower serviced and the blade sharpened! Lawn mowing is right around the corner!
[To light a candle on Easter symbolizes the Easter Sunrise.]
*TIME TO CONQUER AND DIVIDE! - Now that the soil and air temperatures have begun to warm up, perennials have begun to emerge from their winter sleep. And now’s the time to catch several of them, before they wake up totally, to move or divide them!
Perennials are typically divided in the spring or fall. As a general rule divide summer and fall bloomers in the spring, spring and early summer bloomers in the fall. And there are some perennials, like this clump of daylilies, which can be moved spring, summer, or fall.
To divide your perennials, it’s usually easiest to dig up the entire clump first. Then, pull the clump apart into several smaller pieces. In some cases, the clumps may be too thick with intertwined roots, and may require using the sharp spade or a sharp knife to cut the clumps into individual sections.
Once you’ve divided your clump, simply replant each clump in new areas, and of course, replant one in the hole where the original clump came from. And Make sure you replant the clumps at the same depths they were growing. Re-Planted too deep, will cause lack of flowering, and in some cases, loss of the plants.
Water in well, and feel free to use a root stimulant to help get those roots off to a better start. Now you’re newly divided perennials are ready to grow for the upcoming season.
If you have ornamental grasses that need to be moved or divided, or have divots in the center that need a plug to replace the divot, now is the time for them as well. Move and divide ornamental grasses in the spring only.
[In the song "Here comes Peter Cottontail", who does he have colored eggs for? -Sue!]
*EAT YOUR GAZPACHO SOUP! – After just 2 weeks of eating 2 bowls of gazpacho soup each day, volunteers in a research project had an increase in blood levels of vitamin C and a decrease in key stress molecules associated with health problems. (Gazpacho is made with tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, olive oil, onions, and garlic.) So, the new saying is, "An apple and a bowl of gazpacho soup a day, keeps the doctor away."
[How do you know if you’re eating rabbit stew? It has hares in it.]
*FROM THE GARDEN TO THE KITCHEN – HEY RITA, WHAT’S COOKIN’? -
When we celebrate Easter, I am reminded of our many blessings of having family and friends close enough to enjoy this day with us. Mom used to color eggs naturally with onion skins, turmeric, red cabbage and other vegetable scraps. The eggs were softly colored and really beautiful. My favorite was always red cabbage, which turns the eggs teal blue! Coloring eggs naturally is a great way to teach kids to be good stewards of their environment. Every part of the egg is used, even the shells. Grind them up and scatter about an inch deep into the soil around your houseplants and gardens. The shells have much-needed natural nutrients!
Now there’s no real "recipe", but here’s how I do it. You can make the dyes ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator.
‘Coloring Easter Eggs Naturally’
-In a saucepan, place as many papery outer skins of yellow and/or red onions that you have. Cover with an inch of water. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until onion skins have colored the water, about 10-20 minutes.
-Use this same method for red cabbage (just chunk it up), beets, spinach, etc. Even coffee grounds can be used.
-Strain, and add a teaspoon of vinegar to the dye. This sets the dye.
-To make turmeric colored eggs, place two tablespoons of turmeric in 1-1/2 cups water. Stir and place in pan. Cook until it starts to boil. Remove, let cool but don’t strain. Add a teaspoon or so of vinegar. Place eggs in dye, stirring to coat. When you remove the eggs, gently wipe off the turmeric with a soft cloth or run them very quickly under running water.
-Depending upon how long they sit in the dye, the eggs made with yellow onion skins will be pale yellow to dark amber. Red onion skins produce eggs that are brick/brown red. Red cabbage is the winner: it makes beautiful teal blue eggs! Turmeric makes the eggs more brilliantly yellow than the marigolds my dad used to plant in our tiny front lawn.
Here’s wishing everyone a blessed Easter Weekend!
- Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP / Macy’s Regional Culinary Professional / Herbalist / Author / Local TV and Radio Cooking Expert / Adjunct Professor U.C. Clermont College / Community Press Papers [firstname.lastname@example.org attn: Rita]
[Pretzels were made by Monks at the Vatican to give to the poor as a representation of Lent, because they looked like Christ lying with arms folded and praying.]
Okay, that’s it for this week