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Think Spring
March 08, 2010

What a blessed week this past week was.

Close to complete sunshine from beginning to end.

That is virtually unheard this time of year, in my part of Michigan.

Some clear nights were ideal for star gazing too.

Late winter with clear nights offer up several stars, a planet or two and the occasional satellite will drift by.

Not to mention the International Space Station last week.

To make things better, several days were in the 40's and that means snow melt.

Much of our snow has melted and will continue to do so, leaving only the mountains in parking lots and small piles at the end of driveways.

Still, it is March and that means transition periods and itching to get out and play.


This week, calls for some rain which is a good thing, as it starts to wash away the dirt and crud that accumulates over winter.

It is amazing how dirty things get.

Last week was another one of those weeks.

Thursday, we had my nephew, his wife and little boy over (on leave from a two year stint in Korea)

Friday was an open house type gathering with all families and friends in David's honor.

He'll spend the rest of this hitch in Louisiana and then he's not sure what he'll be doing.

God bless all the military men and women that keep us safe and free.

Saturday I said my final good-by to a dear cousin of mine down in Burr Oak, MI.

Toss in the usual stuff and the week was gone before it started.

Birds are singing more.

Migration is at hand too.

Be sure to keep you eyes and ears open.


What do you look forward to about Spring?

Is it gardening?

Getting your hands dirty, watching things grow or maybe the fresh air air.

Do you look forward to walks in the park, girls in short, shorts (or guys in no shirts).

The first flower, butterfly or hummingbird?

The first thunderstorm?

Maybe it's the extra hour of daylight we get when we spring ahead this coming weekend.

What are your favorite things about spring or that you look forward to.

Return this letter with:

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City or location you are near

State or Province you live in.

Get your few minutes of fame.

Share somthing about yourself and be sure to let your friends and family know that you are in a national (United States and Canada) newsletter.

Let have sme fun Y'all.

Here are a few spring thoughts from our southern friends.

Rocky in Santa Anna, Texas, Zone8

I wanted to share with you what I love about spring . It is the time of year when everything starts to come alive again , and time for transplanting and putting in new flowers for all of us , of course some of us have to wait longer than the rest and our growing season is longer than most , but the fresh air and the birds make it all worth the wait . I plant flowers for the birds and butterflies to come to my yard , and I love taking pictures of them when I can get them to sit still long enough ,.

it is a beautiful site to see all the things come to life once again. My indoor birds love it when I can put them outside on the porch and my fur babies love to be outside , they just love to run and play. I have a bird feeder and a bird bath that I keep full & clean all the time, I am putting a pond in this spring with a water fall. So, it will be lots of work but will be worth it after I am done with it.

I have big plans for my yard this spring and summer , I can hardly wait to get started , thanks for inviting us to write to you.

Rocky, thank you for taking the time to share with us........... indeed I look forward to new life and blooms are just a thought right now up here.

Here in the Great white North, I can relate to having to wait for spring to really get here. I might add that is was also nice that 'Nature' was able to share some snow with you this winter.

Gloria - I live In Northwest TN

Hi, I am most looking forward to some warmer weather! This winter has been very cold for us with a total of 17 inches of snow! We generally get at the very most 1 to 2 inches.

I want to be able to dig in my garden! I love the birds but will be glad to see the snowbirds leave, generally they are gone by mid February but as of this morning they are still here. I feed the birds year round but as bad of a winter as we have had, they are on a first name basis with me now HA!HA!

I am also looking forward to the daffodils blooming, but they haven't even popped a blade out of the cold ground yet. Over all I really am looking forward to a little warmth, sunshine and the chirping of insects again!

Wishing everyone a Blessed Spring and all your wishes may come true!

Gloria, thank you for taking the time to share and yes, there is something special about Spring

Snow and cold seem to be a theme so far.

When the snow birds pass through, I'll be sure to hi from Gloria in Tennessee.

Fran near Buffalo, Texas

I always eagerly await the yellow jonquils (which are beginning to bloom as I write), the first blooms of the dogwood trees, and the new fawns brought by their mothers to the eating area near my home.

I finally got to see duck, goose, and deer tracks in the snow. It doesn't snow here often enough to see that! What a bonus and what a treat!

The robins came early, but left because of the snow. I'm still awaiting their return. Hurry Spring!

Flowers in Bloom? I'm jealous.

There is that snow theme again and wasn't that a bit special all the way around?

Thank you for Sharing Fran.

Joe Wilson Spartanburg, SC Zone7

What I Look for in Spring are the Crocus. They are usually the FIRST flower to bloom. Even though sometimes pushing up through the snow and blooming. The Yellow & Purple against the white snow, with green leaves poking through just bring a sign of relief that winter is leaving, and nicer days are here.

I have crocus all across the front of my house, facing the East so the sun rise brings them forth. I walk across the front yard in anticipation, and when I see the first Crocus bloom, it brings elation, and victory. We win! Spring has come at last. It's always a fresh breath of spring when I see these flowers. I know there is much more to come very soon. Candy Tuft, Jonquils, Tulips and the budding of Bradford Pear Trees and their white blooms.

Now after these last few winter months, I think most of us are breathing a sign of relief, saying Yes! Winter is OVER!

Come on Joe...................... a long winter?

Say it is so?

Thanks Joe for taking the time to share.

Joe and I go back a spell, so we're good.

Don't ya just love it?

Everyone is tired of winter.


The past couple of weeks, I gave you two big avian sickness and the importance of clean feeders.

Not to down play other sickness, but there are a few others out there I don't have time to go into right now.

Trichomoniasis is caused by Trichomonas gallinae.

Avian pox, a slow developing disease of birds caused by an avipoxvirus.

Botulism caused by rotting seed, plant material and carrion.

And of Course West Nile Virus, spread my mosquitoes.

What ever became of the bird Flu (the world's next pandemic)?

Some sickness are spread by contact or fecal matter, some from eating the wrong stuff, yet others can be spread by insects.

If you didn't clean out your nest boxes last year, get on them now.

Some birds like Chickadees are early nesters and Bluebirds are always on the look out.

Martin and hummer sightings are taking place in the South as you read this.

This past Friday Karen and I spotted our First Sandhill crane heading north.

On Sunday (yesterday) several Red-winged blackbirds made their way back to SW. Michigan.

And I think I noticed a Goldfinch that looked like he was beginning to molt back to his summer colors.

Keep your eyes and ears open friends.

Yes, March is an exciting time of the year.

March can be a busy time of the year.

March can also test our patience.


Our friends in the deep south have experienced a challenging winter as have our friends along most of the East Coast.

A winter that included many record cold temperatures and record snow for many locations.

Crops froze off as we pay for it in the grocery stores.

Cities came to a stand still.

Record school closings for some.

I'm sure by now, many of you are going stir crazy wanting to get outside.

I know I have many days, that I am chomping at the bit for warmer weather and to get out and play.

However, if you live in the snow belt, you know that the next couple of months is a big transition period.

60 degrees one day and 30 with snow the next day.

25 and sunny to 45 and rain.

That's March for you.


Yet, we still get out and do things we shouldn't do, like plant tenders to early and dig in the cold wet dirt.

Sure, you may be growing seeds and many of you start things to early ( I used to that too), but it is therapy we often need.

We need to see something green

To see something growing.

The pleasure you get when you can say

" I grew that ".

We learn the hard way that seedlings need 12 or more hours of direct light a day (sun or artificial).

If they don't get the proper lighting, they grow stringy and weak, reaching for light.

We learn that directions on packets are there for a reason.

Stratify seeds, top sow, cool sow, 8 weeks 12 weeks, 6 to 8 weeks, or 3 to 4 weeks and so on.

It helps to keep seeds and planting medium in a clear plastic bag (mini green house) to keep moist until seeds sprout and a warm location for most seeds to speed up germination.

Remove from bag or at least zip it open as seeds germinate so your babies don't bake in the hot bag.

As with all seeds, once the seed starts to germinate and it dries up or dampens off (Rots), it is now dead and you will have to replant.

We learn that bottom watering is best when possible.

Babies plants have a difficult time getting bombed with water droplets.

To much water or lack of, is always a issue, even for experienced gardeners.

There are special designed mats, pots and watering systems just for seedlings and transplants.

Systems that allow for moisture to wick up as needed.

Not to mention the evaporation for a moist environmant.

The pro as well as the novice take advantage of such devices.

Some of you use special designed heating mats or you may opt to go with a water bed heating mat (do they still make those things).

Still, the old stand by is the top of the fridge or maybe a cable TV box.

The blessed few have greenhouses.

We learn the hard way that we need to use planting mixes(soil less preferred) not dirt.

All plants need oxygen and take it in through the roots.

A compact wet soil can't breathe and root rot and dampening off take place.

Seeds and seedlings for the first few days don't need fertilizer or plant food.

After a few days, go on a light regiment of feeding about once a week.

When you do begin to feed, go light.

Think baby here.

Several of you have your own techniques for transplanting seedlings.

Yet some things seem to be standard.


If you want a few tomatoes or a dozen Marigolds to fill up a pot, it is probably cheaper to go out and buy the plants.

It is definitely easier, yet less gratifying.

For me, it is always gratifying and to watch a seed turn into a plant all the way to fruition.

I flat out like to watch things grow............... Period.

That being said,

If you have room or just a few seeds, plant them in individual cells or pots.

Your seedlings are up and you want to transplant them.

For mass plantings, wait for your seedling to have a second pair of leaves or the first full set of leaves after the baby foliage.

Have your cell or pots prepared, full of growing medium, lightly fed and moist if desired.

Hydrate your seedlings (not drowning) so they can soak up moisture before the move.

35 to 45 years ago, this is how we did it working in the greenhouses and it still works for me today.

Take a pencil and push a hole in the cell or pot where you will place your seedling (some just shove the seedling in without a pre drilled hole).

For some plants, you can directly plant without a hole. Take your dull pointed pencil or other tool and gently push the seedling (root end) into the growing medium.

That's it.

Gently lift seedlings from growing medium using a fork or other tool.

If you snap a seedling off below the young foliage, toss it.

If you abuse the roots to much, toss it.

No foliage and no root means no plant.

Start planting as desired.

Gently......... you don't want to break off roots and if you do this right, you won't have to back fill much.

Don't pack the soil, roots need to breathe and don't plant to deep (well, tomatoes you can).

Lightly water if needed.

Ground covers annuals like alyssum and porchulaca (moss roses) can be planted in small clumps to form a nice bedding plant.

So much is trial and error for the novice and this bit of information is just a taste.


Are you wanting to dig in the dirt?

Here is a simple test for you to do.

Take a handful of your soil and squeeze it.

If water comes out, then it is for sure to wet to play in.

If your handful of dirt remains in the shape you squeezed it into......

It is still to moist to work.

If your handful of dirt crumbles when you release the pressure or you can flake it, it is workable.

Soil that doesn't fall apart can be ruined otherwise.

Ruin dirt ..........................

Come on Ron, get real.

It is True.

Dirt has integrity and you ruin it be walking on and working it when it is to wet.

Packed down soil can't breathe.

Pack down wet soil, and this removes all the little air pockets your new planting need to produce a healthy root system.

This is another reason why mixing organics into your soil helps.

The fluff helps to retain moisture, yet allows for your soil to breathe as it feeds.

(One day I will have to do another article on dirt.)

So, if you are looking to get a jump on the season, think again.


As I get ready to send this letter off, a couple of male American robins blessed me with a Monday morning greeting.

Now it is rally time to THINK SPRING.

Well, it's time to fly for now.

Before I go, think about the things you look forward about Spring or some Spring favorites you would like to share.

Now here is your positive thought for the week.

If you have not often felt the joy of doing a kind act, you have neglected much, and most of all yourself.

A. Neilen

This sounds a bit ironic in this day and age of "What's in it for me".

This day and age of looking out for number one

"Numero Uno"

If I don't watch out for me, who will?

Why should I help anyone, no one stops to help me?

No one ever stops to see if I might be lonely or if I need something.

No ones smiles at me.

Maybe, just maybe you should smile first.

Maybe you should lend a helping hand and watch others begin to offer smiles and help.

Not to mention, you feel so much better about yourself.

I keep mentioning these universal laws.

You can't help but feel good about yourself (helping yourself) when you help others.

Then there are the laws of attraction and reciprocation.

If you have not felt that joy, then you aren't doing enough.

Can you even imagine what the world would be like if God waited for us to do something?

Why should he want to help us?

Why did he bother to send Jesus (Easter is coming)?

Because he loves us and expects nothing less from his children (to love one another).

Yes, God smiles on us.

If you can do nothing else to help another, (physically or financially) at least smile at someone today.

You may be smiling at an angel.

Until next time my friend.

God Bless.

You can't help but feel good about yourself (helping yourself) when you help others.

Then there are the laws of attraction and reciprocation.

If you have not felt that joy, then you aren't doing enough.

Can you even imagine what the world would be like if God waited for us to do something?

Why should he want to help us?

Why did he bother to send Jesus (Easter is coming)?

Because he loves us and expects nothing less from his children (to love one another).

Yes, God smiles on us.

If you can do nothing else to help another, (physically or financially) at least smile at someone today.

You may be smiling at an angel.

Until next time my friend.

God Bless.

"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

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Gardening For Wildlife.

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