It's that time of year again. Spring is just around the corner, seeds are ordered, and master gardeners across the state are gearing up for their annual education days. The University of Minnesota Master Gardeners of Douglas County are no exception. On Saturday, April 7, Let's Get Growing returns at a new location: Discovery Middle School, 510 McKay Ave., N. in Alexandria. This event from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. includes a selection of 30 different workshop topics.
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.
And so, the season has started. Our seeds have been delivered, our schedule has been planned, and the soil-less mix and plug trays have arrived...it is time to start seeds! Each year, we start countless thousands of flower and vegetable seeds to plant in our growing fields and garden from April — August, and each year I learn something new. Successes and failures are all part of gardening, and it's the notes we take and records we keep that help us to make good decisions and firm plans for the coming years. As they say, "the devil is in the details!"
Hydroponics is "the cultivation of plants without soil." The plant's roots can either be in water or in a growing medium like sand, gravel, perlite, peat moss, sawdust, coir, or rockwool. Hydroponic systems are often used when the supply of water and farmland are scarce or among home gardeners with limited space or an interest in year-round gardening. Soilless gardening offers many advantages to the home gardener: • Since a sterile medium is used, there are no weeds to remove, and soil-borne pests and diseases are minimized, if not eliminated completely.
Now that the growing season is put to bed, and the holiday season is in full swing, I pause to consider the food that I prepare and serve to my friends and family. This summer my garden didn't produce as I'd hoped, but I have plenty of leftover home-canned green beans and an abundance of winter squash. But as winter drags on, the bounty from my garden quickly diminishes, and I wonder where I might find locally produced fruits and vegetables to sustain me until spring breaks. Now, I am a foodie from way back. I enjoy cooking - and eating - marvelous concoctions.
Several traditional holiday plants make their appearance in your local retail markets this time of year. If you're looking for a gift plant or a decorating accent there are many from which to choose. Poinsettia, are common and form the core of traditional holiday decorating. Others, such as the Christmas cactus, amaryllis and paperwhites, are much less common but offer great holiday decorating and gifting ideas. Poinsettias are the most popular plant of the holiday season. Their bright reds, pinks and whites add holiday cheer.
Black and orange insects abound this time of year. I have had several calls about the black, orange striped boxelder bug.
I have gotten many, many questions regarding tree pruning lately. The weather has been lovely, gardens have been put to bed, and people are eager to get the rest of the garden chores done. If you've got a pruning saw and loppers in hand, STOP, and put them right back where you got them. It's still too early to prune deciduous trees!
In recent days I have had many homeowners call, send photos and come in with samples of brown, tightly curled worms found in the garden, along pavers; under garage doors and welcome mats; and in the damp recesses of their basements. All are concerned at the vast numbers of these yucky bugs, and want to know what to do. They've all got millipedes.