Gardener's Notebook - Some seeds will be started by now

Well, it’s March! We have certainly gone through some tough weather, and will really treasure spring when it arrives! Isn’t it great to look at garden items in the stores! There’s hope for spring!

Just to remind you, the next meeting of the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will be on Thursday, March 21 at 7:00 p.m. at SIGN on North Street. Our special guest will be Sasha Howland speaking to us about bees and honey.  We know how wonderful and extraordinary bees are, and how important they are to nature and to us. I know it will be a fascinating presentation because there is so much to learn about the amazing abilities of the bees. Everyone is welcome; remember, you don’t have to be a member of the group to attend the presentation. Please note the date of this meeting: on a Thursday, for this occasion only. That’s Thursday, March 21 at 7:00 p.m. at SIGN.  

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By now, some of you may have started some seeds. What a lift for the soul to see those tender little shoots opening! I remember how Mom loved starting her seedlings, especially tomatoes. She planted them in cut-down milk cartons, each labelled and all recorded with variety and date planted.  They began their life in a cozy spot under the bed in our spare room, and were checked daily or even twice a day.  When they sprouted, they were moved onto the windowsills. Mom lovingly checked these babies every day, turning them around so that they would all get equal sun.  If you have ever started tomatoes, you will know about their fresh, distinct aroma. Whenever I smell that delicious smell of tomato plants, I am instantly back at Sweet Pea’s side, and can see her beautiful smile of excitement as a new season began!

One concern was damping off. Damping off is a fungal disease that causes the seedling to rot at the base of the plant or in the root. This is a disappointing sight for gardeners! There can be several culprits to damping off: soil that is too wet, soil that is cold, planting our seeds too deep, or if humidity is very high. The spores of the dastardly fungi that cause damping off live in the soil, and once they have affected the plant, there is nothing that can be done.

But we can still do our best to save our plants from damping off. We must be sure to use good potting soil that drains well. We should try to plant our seeds close to the top of the container, ( that means we should fill the container with soil almost to the top) so that when the seedlings come up, air is moving around them. We shouldn’t crowd our seedlings. We must take care not to overwater the seedlings, and should water early in the day so that they are dry by evening when temperatures in our homes cool down. And, very important, we should be sure there is good air circulation. A small fan placed a safe distance away from the plants will keep air currents moving.  There are also fungicides available, but remember, these can do nothing to revive a plant that has already succumbed to damping off.

And of course, whatever you plant, record the data in your gardener’s notebook. The other day I found one of Mom’s garden notebooks. What a delight! How special and interesting it was to read through, seeing her neat handwriting listing how many tomatoes were planted on a certain day, and when they came up. I made a cup of tea and savored reading the notebook, and once again Mom was with me.  Our notebooks are great records for every season, because even though we think we’ll remember gardening details, it’s easy to forget!

Visit us at www.yorktonhort.ca and have a lovely week!

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