Posts tagged cold

Day(lily) dreamin’

    It seems too chilly to think this is prime summer and thus prime daylily season in Iowa. Might as well enjoy the cool while you can. Today (Saturday, July 18, 2009) Wanda Lunn of Cedar Rapids will have an open garden from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at her home at 526 Bezdek Dr. NW. Wanda said this will be the height of daylily blooms & the larger lilliums, as well as many other summer perennials.  She will be available to answer questions about all of these flowers.

     Next weekend (Sat. and Sun., July 25 and 26) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, Linn County Master Gardener Zora Ronan will open her gardens for viewing at 5031 North Marion Road, Central City.

Lillies, daylillies and other flowers at Zora Ronan's garden (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Lillies, daylillies and other flowers at Zora Ronan's garden (photo/Cindy Hadish)

    I had the opportunity to visit Zora’s gardens last week and more will be available in Sunday’s (7/19/09) Gazette.  Zora said her gardens are about one week behind those in Cedar Rapids, so they should be in their prime next weekend. Even a week ago, the beds were beautiful. Zora has the right touch with daylillies, which come in hundreds of shapes, sizes and colors. Both Zora and Wanda are open to questions and I think this is one of the best ways to learn about gardening, with an up-close view to see what both looks and works great. It’s really inspiring to have people like this in our community who are so willing to share and generous of them to offer their time and expertise, as well as open up their gardens to the public.

The sign says it all (photo/Cindy Hadish)

The sign says it all (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Here are directions to the home of Zora and Paul Ronan:   From I-380:  Exit at Toddville.  Travel east on County Home Road to Alburnett Road.  Turn north on Alburnett Road.  Turn east on Justins Road (gravel).  Justins Road dead ends at North Marion. Turn north and the garden is on the right. From:  Highway 13: Travel north on Highway 13 to Central City.  Turn west on E-16 (Center Point-Central City Road).  Turn north on North Marion Road (gravel) and travel 1.6 miles.  Garden is on the right. From Marion:  Travel north on North Tenth Street.  Tenth Street changes name to North Marion and becomes gravel when it crosses County Home Road.  Since North Marion is gravel for quite a long way, it is better to travel north on either North Alburnett Road or Highway 13.

When I went last week, one of the roads from I-380 was closed, but it was easy to get there by going to Central City and taking a left on E-16.

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March Madness and will this snow kill my plants?

   Sunday’s Homegrown Highlights column in the Gazette shows that a) the only thing predictable about March weather is that it’s unpredictable and b) our columns for Sunday’s newspaper are written in advance.  Hopefully, no one dug under several inches of snow to begin “waking the garden.”

    In fact, the snow acts as insulation for plants from the cold. Ones that have already bloomed might be done for the season after being buried under snow, but those that were just emerging – tulips, daffodils (at least those here in Cedar Rapids that have not blossomed yet) and others should be fine.

     I’ve been able to resist the temptation to begin yard work even on those beautiful, sunny and 70-degree days of March, and I will at least for the first couple weeks in April. Until the ground is fairly dry – much less soggy than what it’s been recently –  it’s really best to stay off the lawns and out of flower beds. I know a few vegetable gardeners who already planted potatoes and onions before this weekend’s snow. Some vegetables are more tolerant of the cold and can survive even in weather like this. Just remember, there’s no reason to jump the gun on yard work. Enjoy each season as it unfolds. There will be plenty of time for outdoor work in the months to come.  

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Mistletoe mythology

The following is from Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

 

I’m sitting here gazing out the window again.  It’s cold.  It’s dreary.  The big round hay bales are adorned in caps of frozen snow.  The cardinal in my Lilac Bush must have flown the coop for better living conditions. Now and then an occasional squirrel scurries across the yard searching for buried treasures.  Flocks of wild turkeys dotted the hillside along East Post Road and Hwy 100 yesterday.  We followed three young deer trotting down the middle of our road acting as if the right of way was theirs.  I suppose it was easier than struggling in the deep snow.  They stopped in a neighbor’s drive and glared as if we were imposing on their life style.  We wondered how many critters are wintering in homes along our road abandoned due to the flood.

            Relatives from Texas are in Iowa for the Holidays. We’ll enjoy a dinner with them and the weather will undoubtedly be a topic of conversation. My brother stopped yesterday with holiday cheer.  We travel to rural Bertram for another meal with fine food, fun gifts, and mega-jocularity.  97 year old Great Grandma will join us for a brunch.  Grandson Charlie got a reply, postmarked from the North Pole (!) from his letter to Santa.  Granddaughter Catie is convinced she has been a model child all year, but is waffling a bit on the Santa Claus thing.

 ‘Tis the Holiday Season. Hopefully everyone can find something, albeit small, to be thankful for.

 Many of us continue to be abundantly blessed.  Others are not so lucky. My Holiday wish to you is that you enjoy this Season for whatever reason you choose, but please, please make a note to yourself, that like wildlife that strives to survive this frigid weather, many many friends, acquaintances and folks you’ve never met will need your help going forward as they struggle to regain a balance in their lives.  Remember them as we embark on another New Year.

            On a lighter note:  any idea why we call Nature “Mother” and Winter “Old Man”?  Did you know Mistletoe isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?  Its berries are poisonous; it has no roots so leaches from the tree to which it’s attached and in mythology was said to be a sign of submission when sighted during times of war!

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Forcing daffodils

The following is from the Iowa State University Extension gardening experts:

To successfully force daffodils indoors, you’ll need high quality bulbs, a well-drained commercial potting mix and suitable containers. Containers for forcing can be plastic, clay, ceramic or metal. Almost any container can be used as long as it has drainage holes in the bottom.

Begin by partially filling the container with potting soil. Then place the daffodil bulbs on the soil surface. Adjust the soil level until the tops of the bulbs are even or slightly below the rim of the container. The number of bulbs to plant per pot depends on the size of the bulb and container. Typically, three to five bulbs are appropriate for a 6-inch-diameter pot. A 6-inch pot also will usually accommodate five to seven bulbs of miniature varieties.

Once properly positioned, place additional potting soil around the bulbs, but do not completely cover the bulbs. Allow the bulb tops (noses) to stick above the potting soil. For ease of watering, the level of the soil mix should be 1/2 to 1 inch below the rim of the container. Label each container as it is planted. Include the name of the variety and the planting date. After potting, water each container thoroughly.

In order to bloom, daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs must be exposed to temperatures of 40 to 45 F for 12 to 16 weeks. Possible storage sites include the refrigerator, root cellar, or an outdoor trench. During cold storage, water the bulbs regularly and keep them in complete darkness.

Begin to remove the potted daffodil bulbs from cold storage once the cold requirement has been met. At this time, yellow shoots should have begun to emerge from the bulbs. Place the daffodils in a cool (50 to 60 F) location that receives low to medium light. Leave them in this area until the shoots turn green, usually four or five days. Then move them to a brightly lit, 60 to 70 F location.

Keep the plants well watered. Turn the containers regularly to promote straight, upright growth. On average, flowering should occur three to four weeks after the bulbs have been removed from cold storage. For a succession of bloom indoors, remove pots from cold storage every two weeks.

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Microclimates

Nature is amazing.

Aster in November

Aster in November

Here it is, late November in Iowa, temperatures have already dipped below freezing multiples times and some plants continue to bloom. Most are in protected areas in their own microclimate, where they enjoy temperatures a bit warmer or protection from icy winds.

Still, it’s comforting to see living things surviving this cold. My sweet alyssum is still looking sweet; lamium looks lively, malva looks marvelous, a few roses are rocking and this little aster, next to my garage is working its… umm, buns off to bloom.

It’s incredible in itself that the plant could grow- sprouting from a tiny crack in my driveway. I probably should have pulled it out, but now just enjoy the late season color it provides.

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Legend of the Three Kings

      As back and forth as our weather has been – is it spring, is it winter, is it summer? – it can be tempting on Iowa’s warmest spring days to jump the gun on gardening. While it’s safe to plant perennials and many hardy plants by now, it might be wise to hold off on tomatoes, peppers and other tender plants until May 15 in this area.

    The Three Kings, or Three Frozen Kings, is a Czech legend that serves as a warning to protect those tender plants against a possible late frost.

    In one of various forms, the story says the three kings or saints (Pankrac on May 12, Servac on May 13 and Bonifac on May 14) were

frozen when the temperature dropped while they were fishing at sea.

    On May 15, St. Zofie came along with a kettle of hot water to thaw out the three frozen kings.

    Since Czech immigrants found Iowa similar to their home country, those traditions carried over, and, whether or not the story makes sense,  it  seems sensible this year, at least, to heed the Three Kings warning.

     Knowing the last average frost date for your area can also help. That date can vary, however, depending on the source. I’ve seen that in northeast Iowa, the last average frost date is May 10. East-central Iowa is April 30, and southeast Iowa is April 20. Those seem early, especially for this year.

    A U.S. Climatography report looked more reliable. That placed northern Iowa, around Decorah, with a last average frost date of May 26; central Iowa, around the Cedar Rapids area, at May 13 and southern Iowa, around Ottumwa, at May 3.

    Climatologists say the average can vary,  even within the same county. The last frost date might be a week later in low-lying areas or a week earlier on hilltops.  Because the frost date is only an average, your safest bet might be to heed the Three Kings warning and wait until May 15 to set out those tender plants.

 

 

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