By Jannie Vaught
This latest cold front taught us many important survival needs. As unexpected as this was for our location, and as sudden as it came in was for this gardener a “Pay Attention”. I do take notice of the weather, and on this occasion, it really caught me rushing about to prepare. I had my faucets and pipes outside wrapped but lost a really old one that would have busted soon. The hoop greenhouse made it with one small oil heater and 2 small grow lights. We rushed to shore up the chicken coup and make hay and burlap box beds for the cats. I had waited to plant potatoes and very glad I did as the in-ground garden is now going to be green manure, and the raised beds are a question mark as to which perennials will continue on.The clean-up is now underway. This may take well into late spring. We are very grateful to have fared so well.
What’s on the list today is to plant Poppies and Rudbeckia or ” Blackeye Susan”. They are due to be planted in January and February. Poppie, Papaver rhoeas L is an ancient flowering plant much desired by herbalists and gardeners. They come in many variety single and double flower. Many colors and shades. Here are a few to consider for that flowering pollinator garden. Common Poppie, Field poppy, Flanders poppies, Oriental, and the small orange California poppies. They need some cleared soil. loosened with digging or tilling. Some organic compost and of course seeds. The best way to plant them is to get the location prepared and dampen the soil, the seeds are very small and a few go a long way. carefully lay the seeds where you are intending them to grow and then Tamp them in with a flat garden tool. Into this bed can be added many other flowering plants but let’s look at the Blackeye Susan which grows wild here and is a color highlight and the butterfly and bees love them. This plant is native to North America. and is in the sunflower family. Again, there are many varieties to choose from. Rudbeckia hirta, Indian summer is a variety that has very large petals and flowers, Prairie glow has bi-colored, Denver Daisy has dark centers, Prairie Sun has a green center, and Cherry Brandy is the color of the name. the Cherokee Sunset has double petals.
The list goes on and these seeds are available from Wildseed Farms in Fredricksburg. Or look online for specialty flower seed growers. These can be started inside under a heat mat and lights or go directly into the ground. Plant in sections considering the height of the plant. Many are very bushy and when they are about 8 inches tall a top trim will make them grow wider and bushier. In between these consider Gomphrena, Butterfly Milkweed, Greg’s mist, and even some native grasses to give interest to the planting. Of course, my favorite is Zinnias. which are hardy and bloom well into the fall.
Yes, it is time to plant flowers. Our Native pollinators will be needing some food when they emerge. And when the dead green manure, my fall-winter garden dries I will mow it down and do a light till to prepare for those potatoes We’re still on schedule but just a little later than usual.
Growing Green With Jannie