It’s Just Around The Corner

By Mary H. Dyer | March 6, 2021
Image by Srdjan Stepic
by Mary H. Dyer
March 6, 2021

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?

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