Rocky Mountains

February, 2004
Regional Report

Create a Living Gift Basket for Your Valentine

For a long-lasting Valentine's Day gift this year, make a living garden basket. It will last for weeks. It's easy to make by combining small pots of flowering plants -- African violets, begonias, cyclamen, kalanchoe, etc. -- and foliage plants in a wicker basket. Cover the tops of the pots with Spanish moss or sheet moss to finish the basket. This Valentine basket is a great way to give your special Valentine a variety of houseplants instead of cut flowers that only last for a few days.

Water Houseplants Carefully

Be careful when watering your indoor plants. More die from overwatering than underwatering. Water houseplants only when they need it. Stick your finger into the potting soil, 1 to 2 inches deep. If the soil feels damp, wait. Watering frequency will vary with the type of plant, the size and kind of pot, proximity to heating vents, light conditions, and temperature conditions in your home.

Storing Garden Leftovers

If you have open bags of potting soil, fertilizer packages, peat moss, compost, etc. lying around, store them in sturdy plastic trash cans. This will shield them from moisture, prevent fertilizers from caking up, keep potting soil clean, and helps keep the garage or storage room neat and clean.

Don't Prune Too Early

Avoid the urge to prune grapevines too early in February. It's still winter, and early pruning can stimulate early bud growth during warm spells. Young and succulent growth is more vulnerable to frost damage, and a stressed grapevine will yield less fruit and may die.

Sow Herbs Indoors

If you have space and good light conditions, now is the time to sow herbs seeds. Use a sterilized seed-starting mix and new or clean containers. Chives, cilantro, parsley, oregano, chamomile, and thyme take a little longer to germinate, so be patient. Provide bottom heat with a heat mat to hasten germination. Don't overwater or waterlog the starting mixture, as this will increase the incidence of damping off disease, which can easily kill young seedlings.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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