Week 7 VIVA! El CINCO DE MAYO!
Itís Motherís Day Weekend! Itís Kentucky Derby weekend! And if all holds out, looks like itís going to be an absolutely gorgeous weekend as well! We need it. Moms deserve it. The running of the Derby deserves it. And all the plants deserve a little good weather as well!
[A proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as Motherís Day was signed by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson on May 14, 1914.]
[A tradition calls for the wearing of carnations on Motherís Day Ė red or pink if oneís mother is alive and white is she has died.]
*WHETHER ITíS THE WEATHER Ė Yikes! Back to back nights of light frosts. Hopefully you were able to protect early planted annuals or move those tropical plants into a protected area. Motherís Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff for planting those annuals, but that weekend can vary in dates by 1 week. And that can make a big difference in weather. And although we have not Ďpreachedí it as much as we used to, May 20th is still our areaís frost free date. Which actually means your chances of getting a frost on May 20 is 50% or less! Each day thereafter, the chances go down quickly. So, if you kickoff the flower planting this weekend (Yes, I will be planting a few things myself), just keep an eye on the weather forecasts for possible frosts.
[In the vast majority of the worldís languages, the word for "mother" begins with the letter M.]
[It is estimated that 122.5 million phone calls are made to Mom on Motherís Day. Itís also estimated that 11% of kids never call their mothers, and 3% of those planning to call Mom, will call her collect.]
*QUESTIONMARK & THE MYSTERIANS Ė Here are a few gardening questions from this weeks emailed news bag:
"My butterfly bushes are growing from the bottom like you said. Should I prune off all the branches that look dead?" -Yes, get rid off all dead wood and let the new stuff come up and be your new plant.
"I have some well established rhubarb plants that have already started to seed. Why, and what should I do?" -Cut those seed stalks out as soon as they appear (unless youíre growing rhubarb for ornamental reasons only). Rhubarb goes to seed at varying times due to many different reasons Ė genetics, variety, temperatures (extreme heat or cold or both), age (older plants, 6-8 years plus Ė dividing and rejuvenating the clump will help), stress, drought, infertile soils, and even long days! Try to feed your rhubarb with an all purpose garden food just as it begins to pop up in the spring, or by applying good rotted cow manure around the clump after it starts growing, supplemented with a little super phosphate.
"Ron, we covered our Ďtendersí with black plastic pots, and this morning when I uncovered them, I found garter snakes also enjoying the warmth! But, thatís okay, even though I was startled. I just wish they had some signaling device so I wouldnít be so surprised!" -Iím with ya! I hate being startled by snakes. Good guys for the garden, but bad guys for my heart!
"Iím having a terrible time with deer in my yard this spring. What do you suggest?"
-Liquid Fence, DeerScram, and nylon netting to lay over plants. Good luck!
"I have ants all over my peonies. Someone told me they help the peonies to bloom. Some say theyíre hurting my plants. What do I do?" -Nothing. The ants are there mostly due to the sweet nectar like substance secreted by the peony around those bloom buds. The ants donít help the flowering process, but donít harm the peonies either, so just let them be ants and enjoy the sweet spring flavors of peony buds, that only an ant can enjoy.
"HELP! Neighborhood cats have invaded my mulch beds and now they stink. What can I do?" -Fluff up the mulch, turn it over, and the smells will eventually disappear. To keep cats out of the mulch, try throwing sliced citrus peels in the area (they hate the smells of citrus). You can also lay nylon netting over the areas as a temporary barrier for the cats to keep them from digging. And my favorite is to shoot them with a stream of water from one of those high powered water guns. Cats hate that, they remember it, it doesnít hurt them, and you get a really big kick out of it!
"I have a low growing small leafed weed in my landscape beds thatís taking over. It seemed to start growing in the winter. Any idea what it is and how I get rid of it?" -It sounds like chickweed, which is a winter annual. Itís very shallow rooted, so pull it out with a rake, and throw it away, BEFORE it flowers and goes to seed (thatís how it comes back every year).
"Can I plant herbs outside now?" -Absolutely! I wouldnít hesitate to plant them, especially in containers. The only one I may wait on is basil, as it is very cold and damp intolerant.
[A female oyster over her lifetime may produce over 100 million young!]
*LETíS PLANT SOME POTATOES! - Have you ever tried growing potatoes in tough old clay soil? The results are usually less than bad. But hereís the perfect solution for growing great potatoes. Grow them in a pot. Now, whether youíve got clay soil, live in an apartment, or donít have a garden at all, you can grow potatoes the oleí yardboy way. And thatís in a container. Hereís what youíll need:
1.) The container - we like to use bushel baskets. They breathe well, allow for good drainage, and they look good! But any container, plastic, wood or clay will work, as long as it has good drainage, and is at least 14-18 inches wide and at least 10 Ė 12 inches deep. You can even use chicken wire fencing and create a potato tube to grow them in.
2.) Soil-less potting mix - use the good stuff for better results. If you have a compost pile, good compost will work too. Finely shredded is best. Folks have even used straw and ground leaves.
Also, an all purpose garden food, Osmocote, and or Miracle Gro.
3.) Seed potatoes - these arenít the ones you buy from the grocery store. These are found at the garden stores (or feed stores) and are used specifically for growing potatoes. Any variety will work. We donít recommend using potatoes from the produce department at the grocery. Many have been treated with a growth inhibitor to keep them from sprouting.
Fill the bottom of your pot with 2 Ė3 inches of the soil-less mix (or compost). Take a large seed potato, or a couple medium sized, cut up into pieces that contain the eyes, and evenly distribute those in the top of the soil-less mix. I usually plant around 6- 8 -10 pieces with eyes per basket. If youíre not sure about Ďthe eyesí, you can plant whole potatoes, or cut them in half and plant the halves. Plant a bit heavier than usual when planting in containers.
Cover over with another 3-4 inches of soil-less mix, water in thoroughly, and sit your container in the sun. Water as needed, thoroughly moistening the soil, then letting it dry, and then watering it again. Once your potatoes start to grow, water as needed. Again, do not over water.
Now that your potatoes are growing, you have a couple options: 1.) As the potatoes grow, keep adding your soil-less mix (or compost) to the container, always keeping about 4 inches of foliage showing. Continue this process until the container is filled to within one inch of the top of the basket. Or, 2.) Let the foliage grow until itís approximately 3-4 inches above the top of the basket, and then fill in around the foliage with your soil-less mix (or compost) until the basket is full of soil. Now youíre all set for growing potatoes!
Let your potatoes grow all summer...remember water when needed, especially during the heat of the summer (again, donít over-water). Come late summer or fall when the foliage starts to yellow, cut it off, dump out your soil, and youíll have a basket full of taters! Itís that easy. (New potatoes are simply harvested earlier in the season) Good Luck!
*Feeding your containers can be done by mixing a general garden food in with the soil-less mix which is added to the growing potato plants. You can also use Osmocote for a slow release season long feeding, supplemented with Miracle Gro when watering (used every 2-3 weeks early in the season, then monthly through the summer).
[A mother giraffe often gives birth while standing, so the newbornís first experience is a 6 foot drop!]
*MOTHERíS DAY IS SUNDAY, MAY 8TH! Ė Sunday is Motherís Day and you canít beat a gift for the garden when it comes to buying Mom that perfect gift. Let me show you some great ideas for your mom!
-Mixed planters; great for Motherís day. And when it comes to mixed planters, itís up to your imagination as to what goes in them! Mixed perennial planters, mixed annual planters, small pots, large pots, colorful pots, window boxes, how about a mixed planter with a banana tree in it?
-Or how about a nice tropical plant to sit on the patio for great summer colors? You canít beat tropical hibiscus with its great lush foliage, and of course, the outstanding non-stop flowers. Unless of course, you planted a Mandevilla vine! This has got to be one of the most prolific tropical vine bloomers you can find, and Momís just love them.
-Looking for a shade plant for mom? Try the new KONG Coleus. Now this one is a definite for moms with a shade garden.
-You canít beat a nice hanging basket for mom. There are so many great varieties to choose from, including WAVE petunias, definitely one of the toughest petunias in town, and my momís favorite, Dragon Wing Begonia. She counts on me getting her one every Motherís day!
-You canít miss by giving mom a Knockout rose, or a whole bed of them. These low maintenance shrub roses are the perfect flowering shrub to give mom. Just plant them and stand back - they practically take care of themselves! There are 3 to chose from - Knockout, with its raspberry red flowers, Pink Knockout with its darker pink flowers, and Blushing, with its light pink flowers. We have Double Knockout.
[Mother prairie dogs will nurse their young only while underground in the safety of the burrow. If an infant tries to suckle above ground, it gets momís backhand upside the head!]
*FROM THE GARDEN TO THE KITCHEN / HEY RITA, WHATíS COOKINí? ĖMother Nature has been playing tricks again. Last week, the morels were just starting to push through the ground (these are a gourmet treat, , and go for about $40 a pound!). The harvest was lean, but I figured with a few more warm, wet days, Iíd have an abundance of morels. Iím still waiting for the warm, wet days! But the wild asparagus is just starting to poke through the ground, as well, so with the warm weather predicted, I should be picking that by the weekend. Today Iím sharing recipes for two of my favorite spring vegetables: sugar snap/snow peas and asparagus.
Snow peas with Sesame
Sugar snaps work well here, too, but you may have to string them first. Blanch as many peas as you like. Blanching means to plunge the peas in boiling water just for a minute or two until they change color to bright green. Immediately cool them off by pouring into a colander and running cold water over them. After theyíve drained, film a pan with Canola oil. Add peas and cook just until hot. Season to taste with a liberal amount of sesame seed oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds and a fresh grinding of sea salt. (Sea salt, Yardboy, is better for you than regular salt because it contains more minerals and youíll use less since itís more flavorful, as well).
Again, no real recipe here,. Trim asparagus spears if necessary (my wild spears always have to be trimmed as they are really woody at the base) and toss in olive oil. Lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice and lemon pepper. Roast at 425-500 just until bright green and asparagus starts to look wrinkly. This wonít take too long. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan or Romano. Eat either hot or room temperature.
Tips from Ritaís kitchen: For a different taste, try snow peas sautťed in butter and seasoned with shallots and mint. Sprinkle some freshly minced tarragon on top of the roasted asparagus after it comes out of the oven.
- Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP / Macyís Regional Culinary Professional / Herbalist / Author / Local TV and Radio Cooking Expert / Adjunct Professor U.C. Clermont College / Community Press Papers [email@example.com attn: Rita]
[Mother Mexican free-tailed bats find and nurse only their young, even when theyíre in huge colonies of millions of babies clustered as thick as 500 per square foot. Now that is really knowing who your kids are!]
["I looked on child rearing not only as a work of love and duty, but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world, and one that demanded the best that I could bring." -Rose Kennedy]