Happy St Paddy's Day to you and all of us are IRISH today. Saw this and wanted to share with you. For all of us growers, greenhouse and nursery owners that are starting the season, planting and growing the season we need to keep this in mind. Not just them for all of us...have a read. Thanks and
May the road rise to meet you,
may the wind be ever at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Power of a Positive Attitude
You oversleep. You get a flat tire. You spill your coffee. You get a parking ticket. You lose your keys. Your list of to-dos is a mile long. You’re tired, frustrated, and a little bit hangry.
…I’ve been there.
There was a day when I woke up two hours late for my job… don’t ask me how I managed that. And when I was ONE turn away from work, I saw the lights behind me.
So I pulled over and began to tear up as the officer came up and asked me where I was headed. I looked to my right and pointed towards work. I was so close. So, so close.
I almost let those emotions determine my day. I was frustrated and flustered at first, and I allowed my feelings to flood my mind. That day could have been horrible from that point on if I allowed it to be. I could’ve been moping and wallowing in frustration even longer as I explained to my boss what happened and continued to carry out all my tasks for the day.
But I didn’t.
Yes, those things happened, but they didn’t define me. My attitude allowed me to enjoy the day and smile and laugh and joke even more than usual.
Your attitude is what determines your day. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. The small things in life don’t need to be worried and stressed about so much. The alarm can be fixed. The tire can be replaced. The coffee can be refilled. The parking ticket can be paid. The keys can be found. The to-dos can get to-done. You can get sleep. You can get some food. Maybe a Snickers to satisfy.
Your life is great. You just have to allow it to be.
People don’t make you angry - you allow the anger to dwell within you. Circumstances don’t upset you - you allow yourself to get upset. You choose to worry, you choose to criticize, you choose to blame, and you choose to complain. No one else decides this for you.
You can’t be moving up if your thoughts are bringing you down.
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your way of thinking about it. Redirect your attitude. Remember that life is a gift - don’t ruin the contents. Choosing positive thinking provides you with confidence, vibrant health, and true beauty.
Your last day could be tomorrow - choose to live to the fullest each day and live with the attitude you’d want to be remembered for. Remain fixed on the good. See your problems as opportunities. When you keep your face to the sunshine you can’t see the shadows.
Count your blessings
There are so many good things in your life. Look at the blue sky, watch the sunset, go for a good run, have some ice cream. Be thankful for your family. Be thankful for a home. Be thankful for food. There are people worse off than you.
See the good
Bring out the best in people. Bring out the best in situations. Don’t assume. Don’t judge. You can’t control people or circumstances, but you can control your attitude. You can think positively and be light to others.
View setbacks as stepping stones
Don’t get frustrated when things don’t go your way. God knows what He’s doing, and He’s placing the right things in your life. When something doesn’t go according to plan, trust that there’s a better one. You are being moved. Believe in that.
Pray for a positive attitude each day. Pray to recognize your blessings and see the good. Pray for others. Pray to have faith.
Such a simple thing. Smiles are contagious, so shine those pearly whites. Smile at strangers, smile at your friends, smile at your dog. It could make someone’s day.
Having the right attitude will fill you with energy and peace. Be a light to those around you. Redirect your mind. Today is your day if you allow it to be.
taken from boundblessings
Till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa 50433
I didn't post yesterday as I went to our local junior college, NIACC for a gardening seminars. We set up a table to promote Becky's Greenhouse. Sold a few things, and did an Einstein activity with "Do you know what these plants are?" and What they have in common? Great fun. I wore the Einstein wig and for some reason everyone that went by smiles or laughed....good nature people I was thinking. Now back to doing what this time of year we are doing is GROWING plants...
Four Easy Do-It-Yourself Soil Tests
Learning as much as you can about your soil will help you decide what needs to be done to make it ideal for the plants you want to grow. If you can learn about your soil’s texture, composition, drainage, acidity, and mineral density, you will avoid, up front, the disappointing results that can occur when your soil is unsuitable for your dream garden.
Soil Test #1: The Squeeze Test
One of the most basic characteristics of soil is its composition.
In general, soils are classified as clay soils, sandy soils, or loamy soils. Clay is nutrient rich, but slow draining. Sand is quick draining, but has trouble retaining nutrients and moisture. Loam is generally considered to be ideal soil because it retains moisture and nutrients but doesn’t stay soggy.
To determine your soil type, take a handful of moist (but not wet) soil from your garden, and give it a firm squeeze. Then, open your hand. One of three things will happen:
01 It will hold its shape, and when you give it a light poke, it crumbles. Lucky you—this means you have luxurious loam!
02 It will hold its shape, and, when poked, sits stubbornly in your hand. This means you have clay soil.
03 It will fall apart as soon as you open your hand. This means you have sandy soil.
Now that you know what type of soil you have, you can work on improving it.
Soil Test #2: The Percolation Test
It is also important to determine whether you have drainage problems or not.
Some plants, such as certain culinary herbs, will eventually die if their roots stay too wet. To test your soil’s drainage:
01 Dig a hole about six inches wide and one foot deep.
02 Fill the hole with water and let it drain completely.
03 Fill it with water again.
04 Keep track of how long it takes for the water to drain.
If the water takes more than four hours to drain, you have poor drainage.
Soil Test #3: The Worm Test
Worms are great indicators of the overall health of your soil, especially in terms of biological activity. If you have earthworms, chances are that you also have all of the beneficial microbes and bacteria that make for healthy soil and strong plants. To do the worm test:
01 Be sure the soil has warmed to at least 55 degrees, and that it is at least somewhat moist, but not soaking wet.
02 Dig a hole one foot across and one foot deep. Place the soil on a tarp or piece of cardboard.
03 Sift through the soil with your hands as you place it back into the hole, counting the earthworms as you go.
If you find at least ten worms, your soil is in pretty good shape. Less than that indicates that there may not be enough organic matter in your soil to support a healthy worm population, or that your soil is too acidic or alkaline.
Soil Test #4: Ph Test We don't carry these, so have to look into this...
The Ph (acidity level) of your soil has a large part to do with how well your plants grow. Ph is tested on a scale of zero to fourteen, with zero being very acidic and fourteen being very alkaline. Most plants grow best in soil with a fairly neutral Ph, between six and seven.
When the Ph level is lower than five or higher than eight, plants just won’t grow as well as they should.
Every home and garden center carries Ph test kits. These kits are fairly accurate, but you must make sure you follow the testing instructions precisely. Once you know whether your soil Ph is a problem or not, you can begin working to correct the problem.
If you find that you’ve done all of these tests, and amended the soil as needed to correct the issues, and your plants are still struggling along, the next step is to contact your local cooperative extension service. They will tell you how to go about collecting a soil sample and sending it into their lab for analysis. They will return a report that will alert you to any mineral deficiencies in your soil, as well as steps to correct the issues.
These tests are simple, inexpensive ways to ensure that your garden has the best foundation possible.
taken from https://www.thespruce.com/easy-diy-soil-tests-
till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa
Food for thought what to plant in your shade gardens. Yes spring is coming I promise.
12 Great Perennials for Shade
Shady spots are sometimes considered problem areas where beautiful plants can't grow. In reality, though, there are some wonderful plants for shade, some grown mostly for their lovely leaves, but others that have surprisingly dramatic blooms. These 12 suggested perennial plants will help transform your shaded spot from a problem area to a location you are proud of. All of these perennials offer good cold-hardiness.
In addition to these perennials, also consider annuals and some great biennials, such as foxglove (digitalis) for the shade garden.
Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis)
Sometimes you get lucky and have pretty flowers and nice foliage on the same plant. Such is the case for this first entry, Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis).
The blooms on lenten rose begin with a lovely bud that resembles a rose bud, which later opens into a flower that will remain into the summer heat. After the spring color fades, lenten rose continues to add visual appeal through intense, leathery dark-green leaves that retain their beauty throughout the summer.
Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)
The "common" bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) is a well-known classic, but there is no need to stop there. Other types of Dicentra worth planting in your landscaping include:
■ Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
■ Fringed bleeding hearts (Dicentra eximia)
If you are seeking attractive leaves to go along with the interesting blooms, fringed bleeding hearts are a great choice. But D. spectabilis 'Gold Heart' may turn the most heads with its leaves, which have a bright golden color.
Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) is sure to inspire you if you like plants that are a bit out of the ordinary. It is a woodland plant in many areas of North America, so it is a no-brainer for woodland gardens.
This perennial for shade certainly is not grown for its flowers. But Jack-in-the-pulpit rewards those willing to forgive its lack of showy flowers with a brightly-colored bunch of red berries.
Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)
Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) is another native plant of North America. It is in the same genus as the dogwood trees, but do not let that fool you: This is a tiny plant, essentially a wildflower. As the name implies, it also features bright red berries in fall.
Bunchberry is ideal for dappled shade, and works well in naturalized areas and along shaded walkways.
Spotted Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum)
Although the name "deadnettle" might put you in mind of other types of weedy nettles that cause skin irritation, spotted deadnettle (Lamium maculatum) is actually a very nice landscape plant that offers color both through its foliage and its flowers. The popular cultivar, L. maculatum 'Purple Dragon' has vibrant purple blooms.
Like other plants with silver foliage, this ground cover can help brighten shady areas and make them less gloomy. Be aware that deadnettle can spread aggressively, so plant it only in an area where you seek a true groundcover.
There are a number of similar perennials related to 'Purple Dragon' deadnettle. One you may wish to avoid, however, is yellow archangel. It is a lovely plant, but tends to be very invasive.
Hosta is an obvious choice in picking the best perennials for shade, as long as you're one who can appreciate what foliage plants bring to your landscaping. The list of hosta cultivars that can serve both as specimen plants and groundcovers for shady areas is almost endless. One type of hosta recommended to dress up a shady spot is Hosta 'Halcyon.'
Although hostas are known as shade plants, there are some exceptions. Cultivars with golden leaves, for example, need some amount of sunlight to achieve their splendid color.
Leopard Plant (Ligularia)
Some kinds of Ligularia have spots, thus the common name, Leopard plant. Ligularia dentata 'Britt-Marie Crawford' may lack those spots, but it has plenty else to purr about. It sports big, pretty leaves as many hostas do, but there is no hosta with such interesting flowers.
But its appearance only begins to tell the story of this perennial's versatility. While it is grouped with the other shade perennials here, it can stand some sunlight if watered enough. But it can also be grown in spots too wet for many other plants to handle. So 'Britt-Marie Crawford' gives you some wiggle room in terms of how you use it in the landscape.
Columbine (Aquiligia) comes in a variety of flower colors. Types with brightly-colored blooms may be the best choice for shaded spots, where they bring cheer to otherwise gloomy areas. Generally speaking, though, what makes columbine flowers so special is their unique shape.
This perennial for shade also has nice clover-like foliage (variegated in some cultivars), especially early in the growing season. Leafminer insects do mark up the leaves, but some gardeners find the meandering mining tunnels on the leaves attractive.
Do not confuse columbine (Aquilegia) with columbine meadow rue (Thalictrum aquilegifolium), which is another good perennial for shade.
Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium caeruleum)
Jacob's ladder (Polemonium caeruleum) is another good example of a plant with a fine texture that can create contrast with other plants. The name "Jacob's ladder" is a reference to the ladder-like arrangement of the foliage leaves.
The delicate texture of Jacob's ladder works well when juxtaposed against the coarser texture of hosta or ligularia. Coarse-leafed elephant ear can also serves as a dramatic contrast to the fine texure of Jacob's ladder.
Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)
The leaves of Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), like those of Dutchman's breeches, disappear by midsummer when this perennial enters a period of dormancy. This is an acceptable price, though, because the flowers of this spring plant make it worthwhile. The flowers on Virginia bluebells start out pink-lavender but later change to deep blue.
Rogers Flower (Rodgersia)
Rogers flower (Rodgersia) does bear blooms, but it is valued more for its big, pretty leaves. Some types (such as R. aesculifolia) have leaves like those on a horsechestnut tree (Aesculus).
Like leopard plant, this one works well in damp areas that are not completely waterlogged. It can grows fairly well in sun, provided the soil is moist and rich in humus.
Hakone Grass (Hakonechloa macra)
Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra 'Naomi') with red, golden, and green in its leaf blades.
Hakonechloa macra 'Naomi' is a type of Japanese forest grass with red, as well as gold in its leaves. Joshua McCullough/Photolibrary/Getty Images
Even more so than Rogers flower, Japanese forest grass, or "Hakone grass" (Hakonechloa macra) is grown for its value as a foliage plant. You can choose from various cultivars, depending on the look that you want. For example, 'Naomi' often has more red in its leaf blades than 'Aureola,' which is one of the best kinds for a golden color.
Beginners who are new to creating shade gardens need to remember that few plants will produce impressive blooming displays in deep shade. Most of the plants listed here will do best if they receive at least some indirect light. Even shade-loving perennials need a small amount of sunlight. Although no spring bulbs were included in our list, shade gardeners should remember to take advantage of these earliest bloomers. Remember that areas of your yard that may later be shaded by large trees may receive adequate sunlight in the early spring. These spots offer a great opportunity to take advantage of spring bulbs to add color to your landscape.
taken from https://www.thespruce.com/best-perennials-for-shade-
till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty, Iowa
This is giving all garden centers, greenhouses, and all that work with plants a new hope. THANK you for this...
Plant-Loving Millennials at Home and at Work
Millennials and Their Plants
When Summer Rayne Oakes’s roommate moved out of their apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, she was left with more than just a vacant bedroom.
“All of a sudden the apartment felt so cold and empty,” said Ms. Oakes, 33. “I needed to find a way to make the space feel warm and full of life again.”
Her solution? A fiddle leaf fig tree; the first of nearly 700 houseplants — spanning 400 species — that Ms. Oakes, founder of Homestead Brooklyn, would eventually buy for her 1,200-square-foot apartment.
Her indoor forest features everything from a subirrigated living wall in her bedroom, which is a wall of greenery that is essentially a self-watering planter with a built-in reservoir; a vertical garden made out of Mason jars mounted to the living-room wall with wooden boards and hose clamps; and a closet-turned-kitchen grow garden with edible plants (ranging from herbs and greens to pineapple plants and curry leaves).
“I didn’t set out to build a jungle,” Ms. Oakes said. “I just saw how much energy and life the plants brought to the space and kept going.”
It’s a sentiment that more and more young people seem to be echoing in their own apartments. Wellness-minded millennials, especially ones in large urban environments that lack natural greenery, are opting to fill their voids — both decorative and emotional — with houseplants.
“Millennials were responsible for 31 percent of houseplant sales in 2016,” according to Ian Baldwin, a business adviser for the gardening industry. The 2016 National Gardening survey found that of the six million Americans who took up gardening that year, five million were ages 18 to 34. “This group has more college debt and as a result, are renting homes instead of buying,” Mr. Baldwin said. “Houseplants are a low-cost way to have a green space at home.”
Meanwhile, Greenery NYC, a botanic design company, has increased its clientele by 6,500 percent since it was founded in 2010; developers are finding ways to include gardens as an amenity for residents; and more people — like Ms. Oakes — are turning what little spare space they have in their apartments into indoor gardens.
“Our sales have doubled each year,” said Rebecca Bullene, the founder of Greenery NYC. “And I attribute that mostly to businesses that want to attract millennial talent and millennials themselves who want more nature in their lives.”
Inside her 1,800-square-foot apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Ms. Bullene, 37, cares for over a hundred plants. She has installed a green divider wall — a six-foot-by-six-foot steel shelving unit filled with a dozen wooden planter boxes and over 50 plants — that separates her living room from her in-home office, as well as a terrarium and several other large-scale plants, including an 11-foot-tall Ficus Audrey tree, to help break up the open layout of the space.
But for Ms. Bullene, the plants do more than help define the apartment; they make her home healthier, too. “Plants boost serotonin levels and dissolve volatile airborne chemicals,” she said. “They actually make healthier spaces for humans to inhabit.” She cited a 2010 study from Washington State University that breaks down the benefits of indoor plants, including cleaner air and lowered stress levels.
Along with her floor-to-ceiling plant divider wall in the living room, she also employed a combination of plants that release oxygen at night in her bedroom — including aloe vera and sansevieria — so that she and her husband can breathe cleaner air while they sleep.
Millennial-minded companies are also going to great lengths to integrate greenery into their offices.
The Etsy headquarters in Dumbo, Brooklyn, for example, could easily be mistaken for an indoor botanical garden. Spanning nine floors and over 200,000 square feet, the office is home to more than 11,000 plants, including dozens of large-scale plant displays and living walls installed and maintained by Ms. Bullene and Greenery NYC.
“Every employee has a sight line to greenery,” said Hilary Young, Etsy’s sustainability manager, who helps the company seek ways to conserve the environment. “It’s a beautiful space that inspires and boosts productivity.” Greenery NYC and the architects at Gensler worked closely to create a state-of-the-art rainwater-harvesting and irrigation system at Etsy’s headquarters, which is considered the largest commercial “living building” in the world. It allows all the office plants to be watered with recycled storm water.
A line of cascading vines frames a conference room at the TED Talks headquarters in TriBeCa. Credit Brad Dickson for The New York Times
The roofs of the headquarters and a few of the neighboring buildings are outfitted with large gutters that collect and distribute rainwater to a 7,300-gallon cistern on the eighth floor of the Etsy building. From there, the water is dispersed through tubes to each floor of the building to water the plants.
“We wanted a space that bettered the lives of our employees,” Ms. Young said, “and that made a social and environmental impact outside of the office.”
And at the TED Talks headquarters in TriBeCa, Greenery NYC installed a series of unique plant displays throughout the two-floor office. Along with over 25 linear feet of boxed planters in the entrance lobby, the 50,000-square-foot office is filled with cascading vines, wall-mounted shelf planters, green dividers, and even desks outfitted with built-in planters, ensuring employees unlimited opportunities to take in a bit of nature throughout the workday.
“I love that when I look up from my work, all I see is green,” said Katie Hawley, 28, a senior editor at Etsy, who also keeps houseplants at home. “I feel happier just looking at them.”
With the increasing number of young people searching for access to greenery in their residences, real estate developers have also jumped on the trend.
At the ARC in Long Island City — a new 428-unit “industrial-inspired” luxury rental building developed by the Lightstone Group — residents have access to a 1,100-square-foot glass greenhouse, where they are free to plant and grow their own vegetables and herbs. “It’s been a tremendous selling point to prospective tenants,” said Scott Avram, senior vice president of development at Lightstone.
“One factor of my decision to rent in the ARC was the beautiful courtyard and greenhouse,” said Greg Garunov, 33. “There is something to having a green oasis at your fingertips in the steel city of New York.”
And over at the Margo, in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, residents enjoy a living wall in the lobby as well as a rooftop garden with plots that tenants can adopt for their own gardens.
“Wellness is a priority for our millennial-aged residents,” said Dave Maundrell, executive vice president of new developments for Brooklyn and Queens at Citi Habitats. “They’re willing to pay more for access to a green space.”
But for those young urbanites who don’t have the luxury of a communal garden or greenhouse, houseplants remain an affordable, and renter-friendly option.
For instance, Ms. Oakes has managed to make the bulk of her indoor garden self-regulating and, perhaps more impressively, removable.
Thanks to several DIY irrigation systems she hacked throughout her home, including two irrigation units she created using a 150-foot hose that connects to pipes under her kitchen sink, Ms. Oakes said she has to spend only about a half-hour a day tending to her plants.
And to avoid leaks to the apartment below, Ms. Oakes reinforced her bedroom wall with plywood and then added metal gutters to collect any excess water before hanging up her vertical garden.
Ms. Bullene, a renter, also took care to ensure that all of her subirrigated plant systems — even the self-regulating terrarium and self-watering plant wall — are removable.
“All of the plant systems can come with us if we ever move,” Ms. Bullene said. “It’s as easy as unplugging them and removing a couple of screws.”
Ms. Oakes said that even though plant care might seem like a whole lot of work, the effort is worth it.
“New York City is tough,” she said. “My plants gave me a sanctuary to come home to.”
taken from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/09/realestate/plant-loving-millennials-at-home-and-at-work
till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa
Thank you to all that have been checking into this blog. The numbers are growing. So I really don't know who you are and where you live so for us here in USA here are the guides of what to do in March for gardening. We are busy planting our crop for this year's season....so it begins for us here at the greenhouse.
Regional Gardening Guide for March Gardening Tips for the Beginning of Spring
March is a guessing game in the garden. Will it warm up soon? Will it stay warm? Will the rains start/stop? About the only thing we can count on is that March too shall pass. So go ahead and push the envelope, but keep the row covers handy.
Everyone should have their seeds started, their trees and shrubs pruned and their tools ready to go. After that, the most important thing is to have patience. It's tempting to take advantage of warm days, but even in Zones 9 & 10, spring gets the last word in the garden.
Here are regional gardening tips to take with a spoonful of judgment.
■ Start feeding houseplants again. Repot, if necessary.
■ Avoid walking on wet soil in the garden
■ Get your soil tested
■ Check on your rhubarb. You never know, it may be up.
■ Start seeds indoors
■ It's tropical season, but cold spells happen. Be prepared.
■ Keep watering, especially new plants.
■ Start replacing cool weather annuals with summer varieties
■ Get perennials in the ground to establish them
■ Plant summer bulbs, tubers, etc., like blood lily, caladiums, canna and elephant ears
■ Begin planting warm season vegetables, before the temperature shoots up
■ Finish up winter shrub pruning and cut back any flowering shrubs as the blossoms fade
■ Transplant container grown citrus trees. Fertilizer established trees now. Wait 4 - 6 weeks to feed newly planted trees
■ Start feeding your gardenias now
■ Keep mulching
■ Sow a cover crop
■ Hardy annuals can go out even before last expected frost
■ Wait until the soil warms and dries before planting summer bulbs, tubers, etc.
■ Perennial vegetables and fruits can be planted once danger of frost has passed and the ground is workable.
■ Prune roses before the buds break
■ Plant shrubs when the ground warms.
■ Start Seeds Indoors
■ Cut back grasses
■ Check shrubs for damage. Finish pruning.
■ Start spraying fruit trees
■ Remove burlap coverings from around evergreens
■ Cut back sub-shrub perennials like Buddleia and Caryopteris
■ Good luck planting peas for St. Pat's Day. You'll have better luck if you wait for the soil to get warmer and drier.
■ Start seeds of warm season vegetables and flowers indoors
■ Force some spring blooming trees and shrubs like forsythia, pussy willow, quince and crab apples.
■ Keep tabs on plant crowns that may have heaved out of the ground during a thaw
■ Begin removing mulch at the end of the month, as temperatures increase
■ Plant summer blooming bulbs, tubers, etc.
■ Fertilize trees & shrubs
■ Feed your roses and don't forget a handful of Epson salt.
■ Harden off and set out seedlings
■ Plant potatoes
■ Prune old growth off the bougainvillea
■ Amend soil and side dress existing plants
■ Start seeds of greens indoors
■ Plant peas at the end of the month
■ Deadhead early bloomers
■ Keep mulching
■ Be diligent about hunting slugs
■ Set out apple maggot traps
■ Plant out cool season vegetables (Broccoli, cabbage, chard, greens, lettuce, peas, root veggies)and flowers
■ Plant berry bushes
■ Start seeds of warm season vegetables indoors (eggplant, peppers, tomatoes) and flowers
■ Direct seed outdoors any cool season greens and root crops like beets, carrots, onions, radishes and turnips
■ Finish pruning while woody plants are still dormant
■ Scout for slugs & snails
■ Divide fall blooming perennials
■ Spray fruit trees
■ Start seeds, if you haven't already
■ Time to pull back the mulch and start warming the soil.
■ You can still get a freeze. Keep covers handy.
■ Plant vegetables■ Outdoors: beets, corn, greens, lettuce, potatoes
■ Indoors: eggplant, melons, peppers, tomatoes, squash
■ Plant summer bulbs
taken from https://www.thespruce.com/regional-gardening-guide-for-march-
till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa
Here is another part of what to do in the spring in your gardens? Spring will be here I promise.
When Is the Best Time to Prune Shrubs?
There are different reasons to remove wood from shrubs. If we're talking about old, dead wood or wood recently damaged by winterkill, then the question is quite different in nature from when we're discussing healthy wood.
Yes, trees and shrubs can often profit from a bit of spring cleaning, too. Dead limbs and winterkill on branches should be pruned off. This is the easy part of pruning: Remember, you can't go wrong pruning off something that's already dead. And life and death are "color-coded" on trees and shrubs, just beneath their bark, with brown signaling death, green life. The key is determining where the brown ends and the green begins.
But when is the best time to prune shrubs, in terms of healthy wood? Here, the question is different, because you can go wrong with your timing. And while dead branches should always be removed, the necessity of pruning off live branches is often determined by one's eye for beauty on a small shrub (to give it a more aesthetically pleasing shape).
The question of the best time to prune flowering shrubs is the one that causes people more trepidation every spring since improper pruning will result in the loss of the blossoming displays to which we so look forward all winter long. To simplify, think of it this way:
01Shrubs that bloom in spring have to have their buds already in place, on old wood (last year's growth), so that they're ready to kick into action when the warm weather comes; if you prune these branches off, you lose the flowers.
02But shrubs that bloom later in the year don't need that head start, blooming instead on new wood (growth produced in the current season).
Group 1 above includes flowering shrubs such as:
■ Korean spice viburnum
Wait to prune such shrubs until after they have finished blooming.
Group 2 above includes flowering shrubs such as:
■ Butterfly bush
■ Rose of Sharon
You can go ahead and prune such shrubs in late winter or early spring, if you wish, without fear of losing blooms.
Plant Care in Spring: What About the Mulch Covering Perennials?
Regarding any deep layer of mulch, you may have had covering your perennials during the winter, it is a good idea to monitor the situation to determine when to pull it away so that the perennials can come through unhindered. An exact date cannot be provided for when to remove the mulch protecting your perennials: You have to play it by ear, and when exactly you remove such mulch will, obviously, vary according to where you live. But if you've applied a deep layer of mulch, it will eventually need to be scraped away from the ground immediately under which your perennials lie, as otherwise, it may smother the perennials. The best approach, once the ground is starting to thaw, is to begin checking, in late winter or early spring, to see whether your perennials are pushing up. If they are, remove the mulch when it's warm out but replace it when the cold returns (until the cold stops returning altogether).
Plant Care in Spring: Dividing Perennials
Finally, some perennials can profit at times from being divided. Most perennials can be divided in spring, but there are some noteworthy exceptions
taken from https://www.thespruce.com/spring-cleaning-for-lawns-and-landscaping
till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa
Spring cleaning of your gardens.....not the most fun in gardening but it will help with the garden at the end.
Get Your Yard Ready for Spring
Just as people speak of "spring cleaning" tasks performed to freshen up a home that has been shuttered up all winter, so lawns and the rest of your landscaping need some TLC at this time of year, to prepare your yard for the growing season. A spring yard cleanup checklist can be divided into five categories of related tasks, one of which truly does involve something of a cleansing: the removal of refuse (natural or otherwise) from your grass and planting beds.
The other types of tasks discussed below involve getting your yard ready for gardening:
■ Preparing flower beds
■ Pest control
■ Weed control
■ Plant care
A thorough spring yard cleanup readies your lawn and landscaping for summer, but it can accomplish more than just that. In some cases, it will save you from headaches farther down the road.
Spring Yard Cleanup With Rake, Trash Bags, and Scissors
In this first category of spring yard cleanup tasks, you will be picking up after Old Man Winter and any other slovenly bad neighbors you may have to put up with. Roll up your sleeves and start removing:
■ Litter and dog feces
■ Dead grass, leaves, pinecones, etc. on lawns
■ Dead leaves and stalks on perennials
Unfortunately, many neighborhoods contain at least a few thoughtless individuals who insist on being litterbugs. One of the first spring cleanup tasks to tackle is removing the litter they've deposited in the yard over the course of the winter, the sight of which tends to put a damper on even the most pristine April day.
Don some heavy work gloves for this task, as it may involve removing broken glass.
Another unpleasant task in spring yard cleanup is dog waste disposal. It's especially unpleasant when you have to clean up after someone else's dog. There's not much you can do to stop litter, but there is something you can do to help keep other people's dogs from defecating on your property: Begin researching dog repellents.
You don't want to be out there all summer long with a pooper-scooper, do you? And no, don't compost dog feces, for the same reason you shouldn't try to compost cat poop: Carnivore feces contain pathogens, the removal of which through the composting process is best left to experts.
With the less wholesome aspects of spring cleanup out of the way, let's move on to lawn care. If you raked leaves thoroughly in the fall, you've aided your chances of avoiding the fungal disease known as "snow mold." But, inevitably, there will still be some stray leaves to rake come March. That's all right because even without leaves you would want to break out the rake as part of your spring cleaning work on the lawn. Why? Because a deep raking will also help control thatch build-up.
While you're raking the lawn, you'll also want to remove pinecones or any other instances of "nature's refuse." Pinecones don't break down particularly easy in a compost bin unless they are first shredded. Some people use pinecones in craft projects, such as making kissing balls, but, for the rest of us, they're just a nuisance.
Spring cleanup in the perennial bed begins with removing any dead leaves and stalks from perennials and ornamental grasses that you didn't remove in fall.
Scissors often work better than pruners for this task (you can get into tight spaces easier with them). For more on spring cleanup in perennial beds, see below.
Spring cleaning outdoors can be tackled in a much more joyous state of mind if you dangle a carrot in front of your nose the whole time. By "carrot" we are talking here about the reward with which tidying up outside culminates: planting and transplanting. But first things first. Let's take a look at preparing beds, before getting to planting and prevention issues. MORE about this tomorrow.....
taken from https://www.thespruce.com/spring-cleaning-for-lawns-and-landscaping-
till next time from Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa
Here is information about growing lettuce...maybe more than you want to know...soon we can plant this here in Iowa.
Here is an early spring garden vegetable that you can plant not just in the garden. You can put some in your flower bed by the house, and plant flowers after it is done growing.
Lettuce for Every Grower - How to Choose & Grow
Lettuce is a crop that offers something for every grower: versatile, universally popular, and in steady demand, it is a high-value crop at market and a staple in the home garden. Relatively easy and fast-growing, lettuce is adaptable to a range of conditions, seasons, and growing methods. With its great diversity — over a thousand different varieties of lettuce exist nowadays — choosing which ones to grow can be a job in itself. We run an extensive lettuce trialing program to be sure the varieties we offer each year are the best available. Here are basics of the lettuce varieties that are right for you, along with some of the fundamentals of growing lettuce successfully.
Lettuce Basics • Turnaround Time, Temperature, End-Product
Whether choosing varieties for the home garden or developing a full lettuce planting program for market sales, there are a few general considerations to take into account.
3 Lettuce Basics: 1) Quick turnaround time. 2) Moderate temperatures. 3) Diverse cultural methods & end-products.
•Turnaround time. Lettuce (especially baby leaf) has a relatively short time to maturity. This means that succession planting — sowing at intervals — is a necessity if you want to have a continuous supply throughout the growing season. For more specifics, see our Succession Planting Interval Chart for Vegetables.
•Temperature. Lettuce prefers moderate temperatures and is best suited as a spring or fall crop; it tends to become bitter and bolt (flower and go to seed) in the heat. Some varieties are more tolerant of temperature extremes than others, so it is fundamental to choose the right varieties for each season — heat-tolerant varieties for summer and cold-tolerant varieties for fall.
•End-product. Lettuce production can focus on one or more end-products, from full-head and mini-head to baby leaf assortments, and some varieties are better for one or another end-use. It's important to understand your market demand as you choose varieties and develop your planting program.
Choosing Lettuce Types • Baby Leaf, Mini Head, Full Head, One-Cut, Cut-&-Come-Again
Lettuces are roughly classified by leaf shape, configuration, and how much of a head they form. But while there are all these different categories of lettuce, it's helpful to remember that they are all the same species, which means they can be crossed, so you often find some varieties that don't fit perfectly into only one category. The aptly named 'Fusion' is a classic example in our assortment.
HEAD LETTUCE: FULL-SIZE & MINI HEADS
Most varieties of lettuce can be grown as full-size head lettuce, harvested by cutting at the base of the plant, and sold by the unit.
Mini-head lettuces are either standard head lettuce varieties that are planted at close spacing and harvested early, before they are fully mature, or, they are varieties that mature at a naturally small, compact size. In either case, the result is a single-serving sized head lettuce.
Mini-head lettuce can be more profitable for the grower than full-size heads; to learn more about the cost/benefit ratio of the two, read Growing Mini versus Full-Size Head Lettuce: A Look at Differences & the ROI.
Primary head lettuce types include:
•Butterhead: Generally grown to full-size heads, butterhead lettuce has a beautiful ruffled appearance, with a blanched heart and a delicate, sweet, and buttery flavor. "Boston" lettuce is a subtype of butterhead, with varieties that have a lighter green color, softer and smooth textured leaves, and nice big heads. Other butterheads can be darker shades of green, a little more compact, and have blistered/savoy leaves, or can be red butterheads.
•Bibb: Bibb lettuce has a similar appearance, texture, and flavor to butterhead, but it is smaller, and is generally grown for mini-heads.
•Iceberg: Iceberg, also known as crisphead, forms a dense head resembling a cabbage. It offers a fresh, crunchy texture and sweet, mild flavor.
•Lollo: Lollo forms loose heads with very frilly leaves that are often used for garnish. Lollo can also be used for baby leaf production. The leaves are characteristically wide, and can be used for wraps in addition to garnishes.
•Oakleaf: These varieties form attractive, relatively dense, rosette-like heads of curly, crisp leaves that are characteristically deeply lobed and similar in shape to those of oak trees. Primarily grown for baby leaf production; some varieties perform well when grown to full-head size.
•Romaine (Cos): Romaine is best known for its compact hearts of long, broad leaves. The outer leaves can also be used as wraps. The flavor is sweet, and the texture is crisp. Some romaines have a more open plant habit than those that form the classic tall, blanched hearts. The open forms do eventually blanch but not as much, and cannot be harvested strictly as hearts. Romaine lettuce does best when provided higher fertility than loose-leaf types require.
•Summer Crisp/Batavia: As the name implies, summer crisp is the ideal choice for summer lettuce. It is relatively tolerant of hot weather and can be grown for either baby leaf or full-size heads. The full heads are heavy and compact. Similarly to romaine, summer crisp grows best with slightly more fertility than loose-leaf types. Summer crisp is also sometimes called French crisp or Batavia.
•Green Leaf/Red Leaf: These include varieties such as 'New Red Fire' and 'Tropicana'. They are commonly found in grocery stores, banded with the foil ties around them. Used for salad, sandwiches, or wraps.
BABY LEAF LETTUCE
Varieties best for baby-leaf production have vigorous, uniform growth, thick leaf textures, and upright growth habit.
Varieties that are best for baby-leaf production have vigorous, uniform growth, thick leaf textures, and upright growth habit.
Essentially any lettuce variety can be grown as a baby leaf by planting the seed at high density and harvesting the leaves very young. The varieties we identify for baby-leaf production, however, are particularly well-suited because of their vigorous, uniform growth and thick leaf textures, as well as for their upright growth habit, making them easier to harvest and cleaner to harvest in the field. These varieties do not produce particularly good full heads if grown to maturity; the heads tend to be loose and lightweight.
Baby leaf lettuce is usually harvested at about 3–4 weeks from seeding. Some baby leaf varieties take up to 5–6 weeks to mature, however, even when spring planted, and definitely when fall planted. To harvest, cut baby leaf lettuce 1–2" above the ground, using a knife, shears, or a mechanical harvester.
All baby leaf varieties can be used for cut-and-come-again growing systems, meaning they will regrow after the first harvest, but some are a little better than others because they regrow faster and more uniformly, hold their flavor, and hold their size. The quality and quantity of the second cut are typically lower than the first. You will want to seed weekly to ensure a steady supply of baby leaf lettuce throughout the season.
Baby leaf varieties primarily include romaine, summer crisp, and oakleaf types. Johnny's also carries several lettuce mixes, comprised of multiple varieties that mature at similar rates. These mixes create an appealing assortment of color, texture, and loft. Some growers add herbs, edible flowers, baby brassica greens, baby specialty greens, sprouts or shoots to baby-leaf lettuces to create signature salad mixes; for more information, view our Salad Mix Production Guide.
One-cut is an industry term for a type of full-size head lettuce, some of which are best grown for a single harvest and others in a cut-and-come-again fashion. These are recently developed lettuces that go by several trade names, including Eazyleaf, Multileaf, Multi-Cut, and our hands-down favorite, Salanova®.
•Salanova is the industry standard one-cut type for baby-leaf production, and it excels in a variety of cultural settings, from the field to winter tunnels or as a hydroponic lettuce. It is grown to full-head size, but when cut at the plant base, the individual leaves separate, creating a final product similar to baby leaf lettuce. It is more than 40% higher yielding, has better flavor and texture, and double the shelf life, compared to traditional baby leaf lettuce. For more information on the different the different core structures, colors, and leaf types, see our Salanova brochure. For cultural specifics, refer to our Salanova Lettuce Production Guide.
Selecting Varieties by Seasonal Slot & Cultural Method
Once you have narrowed down the types of lettuce you want to grow, you can select specific varieties. You will most likely want to select several varieties for each of your intended production seasons — spring, summer, fall, and winter — depending on your latitude, microclimate, and cultural methods.
Summer lettuces are varieties that have been bred and selected for resistance to bolting and tip burn. Compared to other varieties, they are less likely to become bitter and go to seed during the heat of summer. Even heat-tolerant varieties have upper limits of temperatures they can withstand. At lower latitudes and in geographic pockets of intense summer heat such as the South and Southwest US, most growers avoid outdoor lettuce production during the warmest part of the season.
Conversely, some varieties are particularly frost-tolerant and good choices for a fall harvest or tunnel production. Fall/winter/cold-tolerant varieties are also selected for bottom rot resistance (soils stay wetter in cooler seasons) and ability to hold their shape and color in lower-light conditions.
You can use the filters on our lettuce product pages on our website to select for heat tolerance and cold tolerance, winter harvesting, overwintering, greenhouse production, and hydroponic production.
For an example head lettuce succession plan, see our full-size head lettuce planting program. This planting program is designed to guide you in selecting and timing the sowing of early, mid, and late-season varieties for a continuous harvest of full-size head lettuce.
LETTUCE FOR HYDROPONICS
Lettuce varieties that excel in hydroponic growing environments typically have a compact and upright growth habit to maximize greenhouse space; resistance to tip burn, which can be a problem for rapidly growing greens; resistance to bolting; and resistance to diseases, such as downy mildew, that are common in indoor growing environments.
Johnny's has recommended varieties for hydroponics, selected on the basis of results of trials with independent hydroponic growers, in combination with our own variety knowledge and the information we receive from our suppliers.
Types of Lettuce Seed • Organic, Conventional, Pelleted
Pelleting lettuce seeds makes them easier to handle and sow, and in some cases, assists germination.
Lettuce seed is very small; pelleting helps with handling and accurate sowing, either by hand or with a mechanical planter.
PELLETED LETTUCE SEED
Because lettuce seed is small, Pelleting can help make it easier to handle the seeds and sow the seeds accurately, either by hand or with a mechanical planter. Note, however, that the pelleting process reduces the shelf life of the seed; pelleted seed should be kept cool and dry and used within one year of purchase.
An additional benefit of using pelleted lettuce seeds is that the pelleting process can help improve germination. Lettuce seed can enter thermal dormancy when exposed to high temperatures, meaning it will not germinate at high temperatures. Many pelleted seeds undergo a priming process that broadens the temperature range within which the seeds will germinate, overcoming some of this thermal dormancy.
Lettuce Growing Tips
Start lettuce seedlings in flats 3–4 weeks before transplanting.
For an early harvest or to make the most of bed space, start lettuce seedlings in flats 3–4 weeks before transplanting.
•Lettuce can be direct-seeded, but for an early harvest, or to make the most use of bed space, start seedlings in flats 3–4 weeks before transplanting.
•Seeds will germinate poorly if temperatures are too high; when starting seeds, choose a cool location and/or shade the flats during warm, sunny weather.
•Irrigate well — lettuce prefers consistent moisture, and drought-stressed plants will be bitter. If using pelleted seed, note that adequate and consistent moisture is required to dissolve the pelleted coating and enable the seed to germinate.
For more detailed and specific instructions, refer to the Growing Information accordion on the lettuce variety's product description page.
Lettuce Harvesting & Storage Tips
Non-profit organization DC Urban Greens brings low-cost, fresh produce, including this baby leaf lettuce, to the city's food deserts.
Baby leaf mixes are usually washed and dried thoroughly before being packaged and stored.
Non-profit organization DC Urban Greens brings low-cost, fresh produce such as this baby leaf lettuce, to the city's food deserts.
•Harvest lettuce by hand, or with a knife or a mechanical harvester, before the plant becomes bitter and bolts.
•Once harvested, lettuce should be cooled as soon as possible to remove field heat. Head lettuces can be hydrocooled and, except for romaine, iced, either by package icing or by bulk application to the top of a load.
•Baby leaf mixes are usually washed and dried before being packaged into bags or clamshells. Their shelf life will be extended by drying the leaves thoroughly before packaging and storing. Store refrigerated in plastic bags or tubs.
•Shelf life varies, but under optimal storage conditions, in the vicinity of 32°F / 0°C at 95–100% humidity, lettuce will keep for 7–21 days.
taken from http://www.johnnyseeds.com/growers-library/vegetables/lettuce-how-to-choose-grow-
till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa
Here is anther article on early blooming plants...some of them would have to been planted in the fall as bulbs. Again look at what zone they will survive the winter in. Gives us some hope that spring is coming I PROMISE.
Spring flowers come along and cheer us up at a time when we most need it, after we have somehow survived another long winter. It would not be going too far to say that they help you convalesce as you recuperate from Old Man Winter's months-long blustery barrage. But if you are a landscaping novice, you should consider a couple of points prior to making your plant selection to help you decide how best to incorporate these angels of mercy into your yard:
01Which kinds bloom the earliest?
02How can you inject the best variety into your springtime plantings?
The present article answers the first question by discussing various kinds of spring flowers that are known to be among the earliest blooming plants. Not that you should not also grow some of the plants that bloom later in the springtime, such as lilacs and peonies. But the following early bloomers are especially prized for their ability to give us a "jump" on the growing season:
Regarding the second point above (injecting variety), do not think the only way to inject variety into your springtime plantings is to use different colors. A less obvious but perhaps more important stratagem is to grow plants of different heights, thereby forcing the viewer continually to change eye-level.
Hence, the list below of best picks is organized according to plant height by placing them in the following categories:
01Short, spreading ground covers
02Spring bulb plants
You may find the inclusion of pussy willows here intriguing. Technically, they are not grown for their blooming displays, so you may not think of them as "spring flowers." But this cheerful classic belongs on any list of vernal favorites.
■ Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata): Creeping phlox bears small blossoms in dense clusters. Massed together on a banking, creeping phlox plants make a powerful landscaping statement. The colors available are red, white, blue, pink, rose, lavender, purple, and variegated.
■ Creeping myrtle (Vinca minor): A ground-hugger like creeping phlox (but bigger), creeping myrtle (or, simply, "vinca") is a vine plant, bearing larger leaves than phlox and bluish or white blooms. A tough plant suitable for shade gardens and requiring little care once established, it is often encountered still-thriving on abandoned homesteads.
■ Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum): This viny plant just barely makes the list, because it is not a show-stopper. But winter jasmine deserves mention here simply because it blossoms so early (March in zone 5). It bears pale yellow flowers.
■ Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis): Snowdrops are short plants, like the spreading ground covers above. But like other springtime bulb plants (and unlike the ground covers), their foliage dies back by summer. The "snow" in their name is apt: Among the earliest bloomers, snowdrops are sometimes spotted pushing up through a layer of snow (plus they have white flowers).
■ Crocus: Technically a "corm" (not a bulb), crocus can bloom almost as early as snowdrops (depending on the variety). For those gardeners not crazy about the color, white, it will be welcome news that crocus comes in a number of colors.
■ Siberian squill (Scilla siberica): Like snowdrops, Siberian squill is a short bulb plant that will naturalize and eventually carpet an area of lawn with color in April. But, unlike snowdrops, this plant's spring flowers come in blue, which is always a sought-after color in the gardening world.
■ Daffodils (Narcissus): Being taller bulb plants, daffodils often bloom a bit later than the preceding three examples, although miniature varieties are available that may bloom earlier. The favorite daffodils of many gardeners are those with yellow flowers and those delightful, signature trumpets.
■ Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris): Just as Lenten rose (below) may bloom in early spring, around the time of the Christian season of Lent, "Pasque flower" is so named because it blooms around Eastertime in some locales (Pasque being the Old French for "Easter"). And its lavender flowers are very much in keeping with the decorations for the Easter holiday season.
■ Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis): Like the taller kinds of daffodils (and tulips, etc.), Lenten rose's height (18 to 24 inches tall) makes it more noticeable from a distance than the shorter examples of spring flowers listed above. Despite its name, this plant is not a rose at all, but a hellebore.
■ Adonis: This plant will compete with snowdrops and crocus for "earliest flower" status in your yard. The flower color is yellow.
Shrubs and Trees
■ Pussy willow (Salix discolor): There are people who get a timely spring fever in March or April, and then there are those of us who "think spring" much earlier than that, despite being surrounded by snow and ice. If pussy willow shrubs were people, they would fall into the latter camp, as they often display their fuzzy catkins while winter is still firmly entrenched. Often thought of as wild shrubs, you can also grow pussy willows in the landscape.
■ Witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia): Witch hazel flowers before just about any other bushes (not counting winter heath, which blossoms in November and retains flowers right through winter and into May) and is a more honest harbinger of spring than is the precocious pussy willow. It may bloom at the very tail end of winter or at the very beginning of spring.
■ Forsythia: This bush with yellow flowers is one of the most popular flowering shrubs. When those cheerful yellow spring flowers grace the arching branches of forsythia, we know Old Man Winter has finally and fully retired for another year.
■ Magnolia trees: Magnolias are among the earliest flowering trees each year to produce their spring flowers. Star magnolia stays shorter (15 to 20 feet tall) than saucer magnolia (20 to 25 feet in height) and blooms the earliest. Star magnolia has white flowers, unlike the saucer kind and Jane magnolia, both of which bloom in pink.
taken from https://www.thespruce.com/spring-flowers-the-earliest-bloomers-
till next time, this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa
Hi! My name is Becky and I am a master gardener. I own Becky's Greenhouse in Dougherty, Iowa.