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Rain, Rain Go Away!


Our official National Weather Service rain gauge clocked in with 3.60 inches of rain at 7 a.m. this morning. And more is falling. The daffodil flowers are nodding down toward the mud. The vegetable garden is a pond. There’s nary a robin in sight to feast on the hordes of worms migrating across the driveway in search of dry ground. And it continues to rain. What a difference from this time last year when gardeners were bemoaning the hot weather and how quickly all the spring bulbs flowered and dried up. But that’s ok. This is a good time to sow seeds indoors.

This year, I’m test driving several varieties of nasturtium. Their leaves and flowers are edible, but I’m growing them because they’re disease resistant, the deer don’t seem to bother them and I’m hoping they’ll feed the hummingbirds that are here from May through October.

There’s ‘Empress of India’ with its orange-red flowers. And ‘Dwarf Cherry Rose’ with wavy edged petals folded into semi-double blossoms. There’s Burpee’s ‘Jewel Mix’ and Thompson & Morgan’s ‘Orange Troika’, ‘Whirlybird’ and ‘Climbing Mixed’, which the seed packet touts as “ideas for walls and fences.” But I’m going to try something new — growing them in hanging baskets.

Although you can “nick” the hard seeds with a file or sandpaper, I’ve found it’s much easier to soak the seeds in an inch of water for 6 to 8 hours and then plant them in potting mix. Once they get their second set of leaves, I’ll move them into pots and hanging baskets but they won’t go outdoors until mid-May. Stay tuned for a bloom update.

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questions

I keep seeing photos of interesting plants I’d like to grow, but they’re labeled zone 6 and I’m in zone 5. What can I do to successfully overwinter these marginal plants? I’d like to try them, but I don’t want to waste my money.

I applied commercial compost and hardwood mulch to an area where I am establishing a small garden. I did a few soil tests on the area and the results indicated the nitrogen was depleted. I intend to spread a bag of dried blood to rectify this problem When is the best time to apply the dried blood?

What does it take to make a climbing hydrangea flower? Ours was planted 3 years ago and is growing energetically. It’s in a protected nook near the patio and gets very little direct sunlight, but doesn’t act sun starved. We gave it a shot of slow release fertilizer on planting, and once since. Somewhat inadvertently it gets plenty of water, since the hose spigot is nearby and leaks, but drainage does not seem to be the problem. It now fully occupies an 8-foot trellis but shows no interest in flowering. Is it youth, lack of sun, too much or too little fertilizer, bugs, lack of pruning or what? When do these plants bloom and what conditions do they like?

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