Spring Is Here!

image It finally feels like spring here! The weather has been in the 60’s this week and the daffodils are beginning to bloom. I have to say, I totally love the different seasons! I find that I’m ready for each seasonal change as it comes along. Winter provides a great chance to rest and store up energy for the spring and summer. By Fall I’m ready for a nice winter rest. I don’t think I could ever live in a place that doesn’t have four seasons!

Book Review: On Meadowview Street

image“On Meadowview Street”
by. Henry Cole
This was a refreshing book to read. In this children’s book a young girl named Caroline moves to Meadowview Street. Ironically there are no meadows to be found there. Without realizing it Caroline ends up creating her own meadow in the family’s yard. Their “yard” becomes a habitat for insects, birds and wildflowers. Eventually the whole neighborhood follows her lead and every yard is transformed into a natural habitat.

I love this story because I’m not a big fan of the pristine American lawn. The idea of such a huge monoculture just doesn’t seem very natural to me. If I had my way my lawn would be a natural habitat just like Caroline’s with a variety of plants and creatures all working together in harmony. Until then I can dream can’t I?

Amaryllis Joy

There’s nothing like a blooming Amaryllis to cheer up a long winter! I received this bulb at a Christmas party last December. I didn’t think it was even going to make it because I forgot to plant it right away. By the time I remembered I had it the bulb had started to sprout in the box and half of the bulb looked almost rotten. I didn’t think it would do too well because of it. Amazingly I had two shoots with a total of 8 blooms! I just love the coral-pink color!

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Winter Seed Sowing

image As promised it’s time to write about ‘winter sowing.’ While you can garden somewhat in the winter by using a cold frame, winter sowing is more like getting an early start on spring gardening. It’s a way to feed your gardening appetite throughout the long winter. I started winter sowing about three years ago and have grown to love it! It appeals to me for several reasons. First, I’m not able to grow seedlings indoors and I didn’t want to use bunches of electricity trying to grow seedlings under growing lamps. Secondly, buying plants from a greenhouse can get expensive and there usually isn’t much of a selection to choose from. Thirdly, I love being able to get outdoors even if it is cold.

Here’s how I do winter sowing. I collect empty milk jugs from family and friends, cut them in half horizontally and poke holes in the bottom with an icepick (the lid can be thrown away). Then I fill them with potting soil to about an inch of where I cut the jug. After planting the seeds in the soil I water it and then tape the top lid to the bottom one to form a miniature greenhouse. I write the name of the seeds on the taped part of the jug and put the finished jug outside. Every few days I go outside to check on the seedlings and water them. The jugs can be rained on, snowed on and for the most part left alone. Then sometime in the late winter the seedlings will start to grow. The beauty of this method is that seedlings grown this way are often much hardier and less prone to disease than seeds grown indoors. Plus, it’s loads of fun!

For complete instructions on winter sowing visit Trudi Davidoff’s website, Wintersown.org. She developed the method and has a ton of information for you. She’s put together a very informative and fun website. You can even send her a self-addressed stamped envelope and she will send you free seeds to get started.

While buying seeds cost less than buying greenhouse plants, seeds can still get expensive. Seed trading is a way to pay less for seeds and still get a large variety. The trick is not to go overboard. Many people (including myself) get so excited about all of the many varieties available that we tend to sow too many and once they sprout are overwhelmed with seedlings! This isn’t always a bad problem however as you can share them with neighbors and friends. See my article on ”Seed Collecting and Trading” to get started!

Winter Gardening

Winter gardening, ever heard of it? I’ve heard of ‘winter sowing’ (I’ll write more about that in January) but not winter gardening. Strangely enough I found myself doing just that earlier this week. For some reason we had an unusually long fall this year so several of the fall plants continued to look nice even through November. This just isn’t normal for Michigan! Last year we had snow fall in October!

In addition to the unusually long fall, I must confess I’m a bit of a procrastinator. Needless to say I looked absolutely silly trimming perennials and digging up annuals underneath a layer of frozen snow and leaves! I had to just sit back and laugh at myself! I sure learned my lesson though! Next year I might just trim down the plants in October!

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