It’s that time of year, the pest control calls are beginning to roll in! Homeowners want to know when to treat for crabgrass, what to use for spider mites; how about spotted winged drosophila and Creeping Charlie…the list goes on and on. But before we get carried on the tide of pesticides used in our lawn and garden, let’s go back to the basics. What is a pest? For our purposes, a pest is any unwanted organism that causes problems in the home and garden. An organism isn’t inherently a “pest”, and only falls into that category under certain conditions.
Years ago I worked at Linder’s Garden Center in Falcon Heights, MN during the spring growing season. My favorite chore was to remove the yellow anthers from the multitude of Easter Lilies. The bright orange pollen coated my hands (but not the pristine white petals), and the intense fragrance delighted my nose. Table after table of these elegant, trumpet shaped flowers was definitely a feast for the senses on a cold March day. It is again the season of marshmallow chicks and jelly beans, and White Lilies seem to appear overnight at our groceries and retail outlets.
Gardeners face many challenges, from soil type and slopes to standing water and weeds. For those that have more shade than sun, plant selection can be a significant limiting factor. If you are tired of hosta, ferns and impatiens, and want to add something that adds more color and texture to your shade garden, here are a few of my favorites: Astilbe : This perennial plant comes in a variety of sizes and colors, and can bloom in late spring through mid-summer.
I can’t imagine a garden without the lovely fragrance of Acidanthera (Peacock Orchid). A type of gladiola, the acidanthera flower is a white bloom with a maroon blotchy center, and like the gladiola, is a summer bulb. Summer bulbs and tubers are planted after the last frost date, once the ground has warmed a bit. In our area, this means planting will take place roughly from mid-May – June. Gladiolas, dahlias, calla lilies, canna lilies and tuberous begonias are all planted in the spring for summer bloom.
The first question you should ask yourself when planning a new garden is “Why do I want a garden?” Maybe you have a shady spot where grass won’t grow, but hostas and ferns would. Perhaps you have fond memories of your grandmother’s cottage garden, full of color and texture. You might be hoping to reduce your food bill by producing some of your own fresh fruits and vegetables. Your reasons for planting a garden and the eventual use of that garden space are instrumental in determining your garden site and the plants you choose. Plants in a butterfly garden
Now is the time to start pruning your fruit trees. Pruning your trees while they are in dormancy reduces the possibility of fire blight in crabapples, apples and pears, as well as minimizing canker diseases in cherries and plums. A good pair of pruning shears is probably one of your most important tools. Cuts up to 3/4 inches in diameter may be made with them.
This long cold winter is dragging on, and I’m ready for some color! Since spring is still a long way off, I am on the lookout for indoor blooming plants that will provide a respite from this bleak season. If you are also looking for some indoor color, why not try one of these? African Violets: ( Saintpaulia ionantha) This is a favorite. African Violets come in just about any color imaginable and are some of the easiest plants to take care of. Place in a bright window and bottom water to keep the leaves dry.
If you are new to gardening, you might be confused by all the different decisions you have to make when selecting plants. Why does the same plant have so many different names? What’s the difference between annuals and perennials? How do you know if your garden gets full sun, part sun or shade? Let’s explore these questions together. Plants have common names, such as purple cone flower; and Latin names, such as Echinacea purpurea.
Life never slows down on the flower farm. Every year we start about 65,000 plants from seed, and those that take the longest (Lisianthus and Trachelium) were planted last weekend. Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus) is one of my most favorite annuals, and can take 20-26 weeks to start from seed. The seed has specific heat and light requirements, which has made them a challenge to grow. The end product is definitely worth the time and effort.
As a flower farmer, I start tens of thousands of annual and perennial plants from seed each year. I can select varieties that meet the needs of my customers at a fraction of the cost of pre-grown plugs and liners. From Asclepias to Zinnia, my seeds are ordered and I am ready to start planting in January. If you’ve also selected the seeds to grow in your garden, you might be considering starting some of those plants indoors. Seed starting is a wonderful way to get a jump on the garden season, and can increase the varieties of plants you grow.