For kids suffering from cabin fever, consider spurring an interest in plants from your kitchen. Try starting seeds from fruits that are already in the kitchen such as citrus or avocado. You can simply place a green onion, or carrot in soil and watch it grow. Sweet potatoes make great vining houseplants. Just give these plants a bright spot after they have sprouted roots.
Basil is gaining in popularity with gardeners because there is no comparison between dried basil and fresh basil. Dried basil is almost flavorless in comparison. If you want great basil flavor, you have to grow it yourself. Besides traditional flavored basil, there are also basil varieties available with flavors of lemon, anise, cinnamon, and camphor scents. It also is available with tiny leaves, large “lettuce leaves” and shades of red and purple leaved basil.
You can grow basil in the winter in a sunny window. Start the seed in a clean pot with new potting soil and barely cover the seed. Eventually it will need a pot that is a minimum of 8″ across. You can also start seedlings in late March for transplanting into your outside garden.
Growing your own seeds into transplants are a great way to save money, but more importantly, it is a great way to grow more unique varieties that are not normally found in the garden centers. For instance you are lucky to find one or two early tomato varieties but many catalogs carry up to 20 different early tomatoes that would be well suited for the High Plains.
Check out this great link to see when you should be starting most everything in the way of home seeds and plants. By the way, for best results consider that we are in zone 4. Thanks to John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds.
What are those shrubs with the bright red twigs? These are red-twig dogwoods. The newer wood takes on a bright red cast each winter. Older stems turn grayish and need regular winter pruning. In late spring, red twig dogwoods provide white blooms followed by small white fruits in summer. The red twig dogwood provides great year-round interest for the Wyoming landscape!
This is a good time of year to read garden books. Some of our favorites include “How Carrots Won the Trojan War– Curious (but True) Stories of Common Vegetables,” by Rebecca Rupp, “Don’t Throw It, Grow It!: 68 windowsill plants from kitchen scraps,” by Deborah Peterson; “Organic Gardener’s Companion: Growing Vegetables in the West,” By Jane Shellenberger and last but not least: “Any Size, Anywhere Edible Gardening,” by William Moss.
The ancient Druids believed mistletoe had miraculous healing powers. It was placed over doorways to ward-off evil and to bestow health, happiness, and luck. The custom of embraces and kisses at doorways co-evolved with the hanging of doorway mistletoe. Mistletoe has long been used as a medicinal herb but also has some very toxic components so always keep it out of reach of young children.
Mistletoe is also a parasitic plant that can damage forest evergreens. Mistletoe that grows in the Rocky Mountain forests has no need for chlorophyll as it is totally parasitic and has a yellowish cast. It is generally viewed as a pest on evergreens.
Get the most from you pineapple. Try recycling it into a houseplant. First, twist off the leafy top of the fruit and let it dry 1 week. Then, peel off the 4 bottom leaves. Place it in an 8-inch clay pot filled with 1⁄3rd sand and 2/3rds potting soil. Keep it slightly moist as overwatering causes rot and place it in a warm place with filtered light.Soon the plant will begin to grow anew. You may even see it produce another fruit which emerges from the top of the plant.
Gardeners are by nature, adept weather watchers. Some of us are better with pictures than with words. This is also true with weather predictions. Thanks to the National Center for Atmospheric Weather (NCAR), here is a link to a great web site that graphically shows you the next 48 hours of weather. It is helpful in allowing you to envision where the fronts are coming from and the severity of the future weather. See the link here.
Before it gets really cold, check the garage, storage shed and yard for a roundup of your tools, sprinklers and hoses.
• Scrape the dirt off the tools and rub vegetable oil on the handles and blades to prevent rust and wood cracks.
• Drain and store your sprinklers and hoses.
• If water is left in plastic sprinklers, ice may form and crack them if they are stored where it gets below freezing. Don’t forget to bring in water timers too!
• Check and clean out the gutters. This can prevent possible basement flooding.
• Sweep your chimney to prevent a chimney fire. If you are comfortable getting up on and being up on your roof you can purchase a chimney sweep tool and do this yourself.
• Rake up your leaves and compost them or use a blower/vac to suck them up which also grinds them into a fine mulch that you can apply to your growing beds. You can also mow your leaves into tiny pieces with an electric or gas powered mower which makes a great soil amendment for your lawn.
If you want to protect your garden follow these tips
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1) These crops need no extra covering or protection unless the temperature goes down to the low 20’s F.: any leafy or root crops such as lettuce, spinach, carrots, turnips. Also crops like peas, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower will survive light frosts and actually may become sweeter. Continue to harvest into the fall as long as possible.
2) These plants need protection: fruiting crops such as tomatoes, peppers or squash. Other crops susceptible to light frost include the beans, herb basil, and most annual ornamental plants. Perennials are usually fine in a light frost.
3) Frost usually (but not always) occurs on cloudless nights when high pressure moves in. When there is moisture in the air the first frost is less likely (but you never know!).
4) Use a blanket or plastic sheet to protect plants from a light frost but anchor the covering with a brick or rock to prevent it from blowing off.