Winters in Eastern Oregon may be mild or they may be difficult, with endless days of snow, ice, and frozen fog. But one thing is guaranteed: winters are long. March weather is iffy, but there’s a pretty good chance it will be chilly and blustery.
By May, we might enjoy an occasional string of sunny, warmish days, maybe nice enough to get out there and get a head start on a few pesky weeds. I’m a warm-weather gardener. If it’s cold, it’s no fun, and gardening, in my book, should always be fun.
My Spring Rituals
My spring ritual begins in February when I start geranium and calibrachoa seeds in the warmth of indoors. Most other seeds, including petunias, zinnias, and lobelia, can wait until April, but geraniums and calibrachoa need the extra time. I learned this the hard way when I planted them with the other seeds in April; they were beautiful in time for the Fourth of July.
On or about June 1, we’re safely past the last frost. My husband and I pull the pots out of the shed and make sure the potting mix is ready for planting. Usually, we just replenish the top few inches, but if the soil in a pot looks “stale,” we dump it out and fill the pot with fresh potting mix that we create ourselves in a big wheelbarrow.
Then, it’s time to figure out exactly where the pots will go, and what will go in them. I supplement my homegrown plants with a few tomato plants, and they usually get planted first. Last year, my best producer was a yellow pear organic tomato grown by my friends, Jay and Gretchen. (Note: Can I have a few more of these fantastic plants, pretty please, Jay and Gretchen?)
Then, I start bringing out my seedlings, which are usually getting potbound and eager to expand. I don’t have any real plan for this. I start grabbing seedlings and putting them where I think they might look nice. Usually, bright red geraniums get their own pots near the door, with deep blue lobelia trailing around the edges.
How I Welcome Spring
I’m generally not picky about color, but I like bright red geraniums. Not dark pink. Not orange-red. Not burgundy. Only bright red will do, and seeds are a little difficult to find but I have sources. Also, no white flowers of any kind, especially petunias. (Okay, I guess I’m a little picky.)
Lastly, we bring out the motion-activated sprinkler. My deck is the only part of my yard that is verboten when it comes to deer; otherwise, my hooved friends are welcome to visit. Any attempt to nibble on my potted plants, however, gets them a quick and powerful but harmless blast of water. (It’s surprising but painless. Ask me how I know.)
It’s mid-January and spring is just around the corner. Where did I put those seed catalogs?