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Gardening Tips Part 1
March 10, 2014

(Male Hairy Woodpecker)

Low 40's and sunny forecast for today.



This time it's true.

It doesn't look like it will last, but for now.....

Oh Happy Days.

Toss in Daylight Savings, and it
almost feels like Hog Heaven.

Even the hose breaking from the dishwasher, and water mess under the sink couldn't take away our joy.

2 months ago, we had a new dishwasher installed.

Thankfully we were home when the flex line disconnected from the water.

Mess was kept to a minimal.

Can you imagine if we weren't home or went to bed with it running (which we have done before)?

No charge for repairs.

We're missed the Grand Rapids 'Home and Garden Show' this year, and that can't dim the joy of a 40+ degree and sunny day.

Yes, winter has been that challenging this year.

I think for the next couple of weeks I will share a handful of gardening tips with you.

These are tips I've shared over the years, and tips many of you already use.

Some tips may be a refresher for you, while many new gardeners may learn something new and valuable.

Some tips may even be from a reader that was passed on to me at one time or another.

It's what gardeners do, we share.

If a gardener can't share advice or plants, they aren't a true gardener (in my opinion).

Last week's letter caused quite the firestorm, but that is good.

Spring is coming.

How about a few colors to brighten things up?


Some people have a difficult time coordinating colors.

Use a color wheel to help you.

Remember this, with flowers opposites do indeed work well together.

Yellow and purple, and blue with oranges are stunning together.

Grow a diverse range of plants for a healthy landscape and attractive texture.

Diversity guards against disease and insect infestations.

This is one I mention often.

Check mature plant sizes before you buy.

Make sure they fit into your plans and wont outgrow and have to be moved from their location.

For season long colors, pick perennials with vibrant hued foliage as well as texture.

Scatter bloom times and fill in with annuals.

Interplant herbs and veggies with your flowers.

Herbs provide texture with taste.

Many herbs deter insects and four legged critters from grazing.

Ornamental peppers add color as well as taste.

Why not plant some lettuce too.

Anise Swallowtail and Black Swallowtail butterflies will use parsley and dill as a host plant.

Plant a batch or two in amongst your flowers as caterpillar food.

Having a hard time coming up with gardening or landscape ideas?

Take or collect pictures of good looking gardens.

Often this will give you inspiration for your own ideas.

Ask a gardening friend, or join a gardening club.

Go Native (Gardening for Wildlife).

Nothing is easier to grow and better for the environment and wildlife than plants meant to grow and thrive in your area (there are many).

Native require less work and that means more time for you to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Determine if spring soil is dry enough to work and plant.

Grab a small handful of dirt and squeeze.

If water drains or you have a mud ball, it is to wet to work, and you will do more harm to your soil.

If the handful of dirt remains in a clump with a few falling crumbs or pieces, it's good for plant (if it is warm enough).

Don't get too eager to get plant.

Even if the soil is workable, it may be too cold for many seeds to germinate.

Vegetable seeds and some tropical flower seeds will simply rot away.

A big virtue for all gardeners is patience.

We all have our successes and failures, (hopefully more success and failure).

Patience is often an agonizing, yet learned quality we must all develop if you want to have any success at any level of gardening.

Experience is often the best teacher.

However, young or novice gardeners will do well if they can befriend an experienced gardener.

That goes for vegetable or flower gardens.

Wildlife habitats and gardening to attract wildlife also require knowledge and skill.

For the bird lovers, which I am one.

Plant flowers and shrubs that attract some insects.

Virtually all birds feed on insects during nesting and raising a family.

Insects are full of protein that young birds need to grow fast and strong.

You attract more birds with insects during spring and summer, than you will with feeders.

Enjoy the activity as birds flit through your yard and gardens.

Hummingbird lovers.......

There are many flowers that attract hummers to your yard.

Hyssop, monarda, butterfly bushes, and so on.

If I could only plant one type of flower in my gardens for hummingbirds, it would be 'Red Salvia' (Salvia spledins)

Red salvia flowers from spring to killing frost.

With proper care, the plants only get bigger and better as the season goes.

Red salvia comes in many different shapes and sizes.

Surely there is one to fit your garden and hummingbird needs.

Plant several, hummers enjoy a feast, not a tease.

I hope this gives you a little promise and tease for thing to come.

Think Spring.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God bless.

" Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go.
You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be. "

Rick Warren, pastor and author

God Promises us.........

"And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires".

2 Peter 1:4

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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