Gardeners: Worst fall and winter

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Did anyone get sunburned this past weekend? A concensus has been reached by gardeners throughout the Miss-Lou as far as the weather is concerned. This has been the worst fall and winter in years. Decades some claim. Some people insist that it has rained every weekend since October.

If you’ve ever wondered about the drainage in your garden, the last few wet months have been perfect for such analyzation.

How do you know?

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Like a friend of mine said last week &uot;I’m amazed at how beautiful my pansies are right now.&uot;

As one gardener to another, I prided her on her wonderful rich, well drained soil. After all, great soil is like gold in the garden.

If you garden on the opposite side of the fence and your pansies croaked a couple of months ago, you can be certain that lack of water was not the cause.

Additionally, pansies had no trouble tolerating the cold temperatures that we’ve had this winter so it must have been some other problem.

A check of your soil may reveal a compacted, waterlogged situation in which most plants can not survive.

If this is the case, amend and till your soil this spring before planting. Raised beds are the best type for southern gardens.

With all of the rain the past few months, the fertilizer you applied last fall is probably gone.

If you have not fertilized recently, now would be a good time to do so.

With the lower than usual amount of bright sunlight in the last few months, many plants that would ordinarily be showing out now are running a little late.

The soil temperature is not yet warm enough.

Spring plants are just now getting cranked up for their spring spectacular.

Now is the time to divide summer and fall blooming perennials.

‘Clara Curtis’ chrysanthemum, known fondly to gardeners in the deep south as the Country Girl Daisy, perennial sunflower, grasses and monarda are a few.

Many summer and fall blooming perennials benefit from trimming in late spring and at least once during summer until July 4 or so, depending on what the plant is.

Mark your calendars to make sure you have done this at least once before then.

Not only will the plants mentioned earlier (except the grasses, cut them back now if you haven’t) benefit, but salvias, Mexican mint marigold, and many others will also.

Does anyone know what the weather will be for the next few weeks? Yeah right. Wouldn’t that be nice.

Predictions seem to go both ways. There are those that are sure that we will not have another hard freeze this spring. After all, we are behind schedule this year.

The azaleas aren’t even blooming for Pilgrimage.

On the other hand, the &uot;Easter snap&uot; is a real possibility. And no matter what date Easter Sunday falls on, early or late, there are folks that are cautious about planting anything until after then.

Petunia, geranium, bacopa, sweet alyssum and lots of other plants enjoy the cool temperatures and won’t be bothered by a light frost.

As far as impatiens and periwinkle (vinca), it’s too early to plant them. Warm soil and evening temperatures are a must for both.

Enjoy spring plants now. Summer will be here shortly.