by Charlene Burgi
Agastache after a long winter
This week many of us will remember and celebrate one of two ancient holidays: Passover and Easter. There are many processes found in gardening that remind me of both of these holidays and their origins. Who would guess life and beauty would be realized from the bondage of harsh living conditions, as many plants don’t begin to bloom until they are root bound? Or that it would take scarifying certain hard-coated waxy seeds to create new life? How about seeds or bulbs lying in a bed of cold, dark soil that bring the miracle of flowers, or the protection that is offered to our plants when we cover their roots with mulch?
When we garden, we have faith that the steps we take will reward us with a bounty of fruits, vegetables, or masses of colorful flowers. Sometimes our faith waivers. This winter when the temperatures in Lassen County dropped to 21 below zero, I feared the newly planted Santa Rosa plum tree would not live through that freezing snow. Imagine the joy I experienced this spring when the tree not only survived, but produced an abundance of flowers and potential fruit yet to come!
Despite our best intentions we sometimes make mistakes, but find plants are forgiving of our errors. A great example of this occurred just this past week. I was too busy to check on the greenhouse for three days in a row and too busy to notice that outdoor temperatures were rising. By the time I went into the greenhouse, I found the trapped interior heat had caused many of the potted plants to wither. Fortunately the wilted vegetables that I had planted in the ground sprung right back up with a good soaking!
Gardeners’ faith is affirmed as they experience the fruits of their labors. We recognize our decisions will bring future rewards or we wouldn’t find ourselves tilling the soil, weeding, feeding, mulching, planting, pruning, mowing, and hoeing when we could be finding other activities to entertain ourselves. Some call our drive passion or love. The rewards are too rich to walk away from the garden.
The jewels from our gardens are also enjoyed by those with whom we share our bounty—whether it be tomatoes, bouquets of flowers, or creative ideas. For example, this week a few of our readers shared some great ideas about their seed-planting strategies and the staking of tree roses. Frank suggested an idea to avoid struggling with wet toilet paper when making seed strips as I described in last week’s blog. He creates a paste of flour and water, then uses a toothpick to transport the paste onto a seed and the seed onto dry toilet paper. After allowing the paste to dry, he plants the seeded toilet paper strip at the proper depth.
In the past Nancy struggled with commercial seed starters that failed to support the weight of her bottle gourd seedlings. She happened onto large biodegradable drinking cups that are sturdy enough for starting the seedlings indoors before moving them outside. Transplant shock is eliminated since she plants the entire cup, knowing the cup will break down in the soil.
Scott suggested staking tall plants by triangulating three tall concrete form stakes and connecting the stakes together using copper fittings and copper pipe—a very classy construction that I might use for the peonies that spring is resurrecting from their winter dormancy right now.
Now is a time of new beginnings in the garden. Enjoy the blessings this season brings and have a very special weekend.
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