The Practical Gardener – February 2016

Speaker Information

The topic for February is Growing New Plants from Existing Plants in the Garden: starting plants from seeds; dividing plants; using the correct planting materials; and, how far out to start seeds or divide perennial plants. Dave and Annilese Doolittle are the guest speakers and owners of Petal Heads. Combined they have over 25 years of horticultural education and work experience. Petal Heads offers unique plants, both annuals and perennials.

www.portlandpetalheads.com

President’s Message

There is a bright reason to welcome February.A bunch of years ago, I moved to Colorado just after Thanksgiving.

During the first week of February, several of us who arrived in town about the same time were chatting at the end of the workday. One co-worker looked up and exclaimed, “It is light out!” Indeed, those of us who moved there in November were driving home in daylight for the first time. A longer day with more light begins with Solstice in December, but it is February before we really notice the difference.

Another change is composting… Compost piles don’t progress much during the cold of winter. By February, composting is back in gear-becoming ready for early spring planting. In addition to the resumption of the composting process, planting season is approaching – time for peas and soon most greens and root crops.

Hold off on tomatoes! The average last frost is April 15th.

The rain will keep getting warmer. Planting may make you smile, but ahead are slugs, cutworms and aphids! It won’t be long and our waterlogged soil will be dry and we will be watering.

Come to the February meeting. Bring a guest… no charge for newbies. Bring your questions for the Gardener-to-Gardener Q&A.

See you at the meeting,

John

Tips from Tom

1. To remove the salt deposits that form on clay pots, combine equal parts white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture to the pot and scrub with a plastic brush. Let the pot dry before you plant anything in it.

2. To prevent accumulating dirt under your fingernails while you work in the garden, draw your fingernails across a bar of soap and you’ll effectively seal the undersides of your nails so dirt can’t collect beneath them. Then, after you’ve finished in the garden, use a nailbrush to remove the soap and your nails will be sparkling clean.

3. To prevent the line on your string trimmer from jamming or breaking, treat with a spray vegetable oil before installing it in the trimmer.

4. Turn a long-handled tool into a measuring stick! Lay a long-handled garden tool on the ground, and next to it place a tape measure. Using a permanent marker, write inch and foot marks on the handle. When you need to space plants a certain distance apart (from just an inch to several feet) you’ll already have a measuring device in your hand.

5. To have garden twine handy when you need it, just stick a ball of twine in a small clay pot, pull the end of the twine through the drainage hole, and set the pot upside down in the garden. Do that, and you’ll never go looking for twine again.

6. Little clay pots make great cloches for protecting young plants from sudden, overnight frosts and freezes.

7. To turn a clay pot into a hose guide, just stab a roughly one-foot length of steel reinforcing bar into the ground at the corner of a bed and slip two clay pots over it: one facing down, the other facing up. The guides will prevent damage to your plants as you drag the hose along the bed.

Plant of the Month

EuphorbiaEuphorbia martinii ‘Red Martin’

This sturdy evergreen perennial has upright stems and narrow leaves with beautiful reddish-purple shading when young. The flower clusters are elevated well above the foliage and are several inches long, with bright green to chartreuse leaves and bracts.

This low growing selection remains a standout from fall through spring when many other perennials are merely storing their reserves. The plants grow to 24” and bear yellow-green flowers marked with a dark central eye. The reddish-purple foliage is truest in full sun and hardy to 10 degrees F.

Upcoming Events

Save the date! MGCP Plant Sale April 30th