2010-03-04 / News

Time to think gardening – spring will be here soon

The Island Garden
By Roger Marshall

According to a British study, spring warmth will come 11 days earlier this year and summer will last a few days longer as global warming affects our planet.

At least, that’s the theory.

With the amount of snow we’ve had this winter, however, global warming seems a long way off.

While the cold weather shows little sign of abating, you might want to start perennial flower seedlings under lamps in your basement if you haven’t already done so. They usually take a little time to grow to full size and often will not flower in their first season.

If you want them to flower this year, make sure they get about six weeks of cold weather. This means starting them early so that they can grow large enough and be fooled into thinking they’ve gone through a full winter.

Perennial flowers, such as achillea, rudbeckia, alyssum and carnations, need to be planted early to get flowers this year. When the seedlings are three or more inches high, set them in a greenhouse or cold frame to acclimate them gently to cooler weather. With any luck – and provided it is not too cold – they will keep growing and set flowers this summer instead of next year.

If you forgot to plant bulbs such as daffodils and tulips last fall, don’t let them rot. Plant them as early as the ground can be worked this spring. They’ll come up a little later than plants that have been in the ground all winter, but they will grow and you’ll be able to enjoy daffodils in July instead of May. By the second year, the plant will have adjusted itself and will come up as normal.

New gardeners

According to the latest 2009 Edibles Gardening Trends Research Report conducted by the Garden Writers Association, the boom in vegetable gardening will continue. The report estimates that more than 41 million households grew a vegetable garden last year – an increase of 7 million over the previous year’s number.

The majority of new gardeners came from the South, with the least coming from the Northeast. Obviously, researchers didn’t talk to many Jamestowners, many of whom tell me that they started or expanded their vegetable gardens over the last few years. Only 1% who started a vegetable garden last year do not plan to continue and of those, most cited lack of success as their reason.

The report also suggests that the majority of new gardeners get their information from friends, rather than books or the Internet. Getting information from the Internet was most popular for the younger age groups, although the 18 to 24 group showed little interest in gardening as a whole. But by the time they get older, get married, possibly have children and buy a home, they get into gardening at a very rapid rate, making the 25- to 40- year-old group the highest rated in the number of gardeners.

So what does that tell us? Not a lot, but I thought it was interesting.

By the way, I’ll be discussing how to grow a new garden at the Jamestown Philomenian Library on March 18. I’ll demonstrate how to start seeds, how to re-pot plants and take care of indoor plants, how to dig over and set up your garden for great success this year, what to grow and where to grow it.

I hope you’ll come. And at the end of summer, I’ll expect to get reports on how successful you were.

Return to top