The Garden Plot – The Stokes News

the-garden-plot-–-the-stokes-news

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Spring is here and gold is in abundance in flower beds and around trees and lawns with the glow of buttercups, daffodils, jonquils and narcissus. There are so many types of these flowers, but my favorite is the King Alford, with its light orange cup in a dish of yellow petals.
When these flowers finish their blooming cycle allow the foliage to keep growing or turn brown. Completing this process allows the bulbs to form and provide the blooms for next spring.
A great day for Irish potatoes: Next Wednesday is St. Patrick’s Day and a great way to celebrate is to set out Irish potatoes to start the spring cool weather vegetable season. Potatoes need a long growing season of more than 100 days, so they need to be planted in early spring so you will have time to follow them with warm weather vegetables. The potatoes planted now can be harvested before early July’s “Dog Days” of summer. Plant potatoes in a furrow about four to five inches deep. Use whole seed potatoes; do not cut them up, as this will cause mold, rot and fungus. Apply a layer of peat moss and cover by hilling up the soil on each side of the furrow, then tamp down with a hoe blade. Wait until potatoes sprout before feeding with a good fine-textured plant food like Dr. Earth or Alaska Fish Emulsion. Feed once a month.
Shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day: Most florists and floral department of stores will carry pots of shamrocks during the first weeks of March. They make nice décor for your dining room table. You can make your own pot of greenery by digging up a clump of clover or violets and potting them yourself. A vase of Carolina Jasmine will also look good inside the house, especially if they have plenty of fragrant blooms.
Set out cabbage plants: The cool days of March are ideal for setting out cabbage plants in The Garden Plot. You can choose from many varieties. Cabbage plants come in six- or nine-packs. Set plants in a furrow fix or six inches deep and about a foot apart. Apply peat moss, then place the plants in and hill up the soil on each side. After ten days, apply Miracle-Gro liquid plant food and repeat every 15 days.
Stocking up on packs of zinnias: Seed racks in garden shops and supermarkets are full of both flower and vegetable seeds. Pick up a packet or two of zinnias and store in a warm, dry place. Zinnias come in almost every color and cost less than $2 a pack. Zinnias will attract butterflies, birds, bees and other pollinators to your lawn and garden.
Keep a bale of peat moss handy: Peat moss is a magic elixir for improving any type of garden soil. A 3.5 cubic bale cost around $10 and will pay huge dividends at harvest time. Before you plant anything, apply a layer of peat moss. It is totally organic. Another great organic product to apply to plants and vegetables is Black Cow composted cow manure. It can be purchased at most garden shops in 25- and 50-pound bags. (Look for a yellow bag with a picture of a black cow on the front.) It’s a great investment for every garden and goes a long way in improving the soil.
Daylight Savings Time begins: An extra hour of daylight begins this Sunday at 2 a.m. Add this hour to the extra minute of daylight we are receiving each evening and you have more time to prepare the lawn and garden and just enjoy the Vitamin C. It’s a whole lot easier to get used to the extra hour of daylight in the spring than to get used to losing it in the fall!
A pot of Irish Stew
Celebrate the day for the Irish with a pot of stew.
1½ lbs. stew beef
1 Tbs. bacon bits
2 cups water
1 envelope beef gravy mix
½ tsp. black pepper
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into one-inch pieces
1 large white onion, cut into one-inch chunks
2 celery stalks, cut into one-inch chunks
1 large potato, cut into one-inch chunks
½ a small cabbage head, cut into one-inch chunks
½ tsp. salt
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. sugar
In a large stew pot place beef, bacon bits and water. Boil on medium heat until beef is tender (about an hour), adding more water as needed and stirring often. Add beef gravy mix and simmer two minutes on low. All other ingredients except cabbage and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often. Add cabbage chunks and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. If the stew needs to be thicker, mix three tablespoons cornstarch into a glass of cold water and add the mixture an ounce at a time until desired thickness.

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