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Green Thumb:

Spring into gardening

March 5, 2010

IN ADDITION to those of Irish heritage, another group of people who are seeing green this month are gardeners!

With spring right around the corner, those who love digging in the dirt are during planning their gardens and readying the ground for planting.

Longtime member of the Mount Pleasant Garden Club Ruth Lewis said now is the time for planning.

Article Photos

Photo courtesy of The National Gardening Association

"These snow days would have been perfect times to be browsing the seed catalogs, dreaming and planning for spring," she said, noting many local greenhouses have excellent information to help those new to gardening.

One such site belongs to Ferda's Countryside Garden Center, located on U.S. 250 near Adena, where Lynn and Bob Ferda and their staff members are ready to help those of all skill levels. The website ( offers a yearly calendar with specific steps gardeners can take each month to make sure their year and gardens are picture perfect.

Things which should be done the month of March include:

Re-pot houseplants so they will grow well during spring and summer.

Uncover bulb beds and hardy borders near the middle of the month.

Begin to plant deciduous trees and shrubs this month.

Trim out the old canes from the rows of berry bushes. The bramble fruits are borne on new wood.

Prune fruit trees until spring buds swell. Maple and birch should not be pruned until they leaf out.

Uncover mulched perennial and strawberry beds gradually, pressing into place any plants that have been heaved up.

Dig up over-wintered parsnips as soon as the soil is loose enough. They will not benefit from any additional time in the ground.

Remove the mulch from your perennial beds gradually.

Take it off as the season progresses and add it to your compost pile.

If your compost pile has been frozen all winter, add some manure now and turn it frequently.

Manure can be spread over the garden now, especially on the asparagus and rhubarb beds.

Hydrangea can now be cut back severely to stimulate good blooms. (Make sure the variety you prune does not bloom on old wood.)

Start some vegetables in flats now: Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, and lettuce are good choices.

Trim back your ornamental grasses just before new growth begins. Grasses do best when cut back in the spring.

Those are Ferda's are currently starting their seedlings in the greenhouse and plans are for the business to reopen on March 15.

Many other gardeners are also starting their seeds indoors at this time in preparation for spring and Lewis points out beginning a garden does not have to be expensive.

"Nothing gives you more value for your money than a packet of seeds. Spend some time browsing seed selections in catalogs and you will discover an array of plants seldom found in nurseries. For a few dollars, you will be able to plant rare heirloom varieties once cherished by your ancestors,wildflowers from your childhood or a diverse selection of vegetables with tastes unrivaled by product produce," she noted.

Lewis also shared the following hints and ideas for starting seeds indoors:

Cardboard egg cartons can be recycled into perfect seed-starting flats. When it is time to plant separate the sections with a sharp knife, and tuck each one into the soil. The cardboard will decompose as the seedlings grow.

Empty rinds of grapefruits, lemons, limes and oranges make excellent little starter pots. Rinds can be transplanted directly into the garden soil.

Using a soup can as a mold, wrap two sheets of newspaper around the outside of the can, fold the leftover paper to shape the bottom, and tape it to hold it in place. Run a piece of tape around the center to strengthen the sides, then slip the paper pot off the can. Recycle empty milk cartons, soup cans, Styrofoam cups, yogurt and cottage cheese containers, and take -out food containers as planters. Make sure to provide drainage holes.

Recycle those plastic strawberry or tomato baskets and line the little baskets with brown paper bags. newspaper or paper towels, add soil and plant them with the seeds of finicky flowers and vegetables that don't like to be transplanted. Once a set of true leaves (the first set of actual leaves,and resemble those of the parent plant) appears, tuck the baskets directly into the ground and the roots will find their way out.

(Graham can be reached at



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