In My Garden (Zone 3-4)
It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.
-Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
Winter in Maine has been particularly brutal this year. Cold temperatures have hit new lows while snow accumulations have hit new highs. It’s a year for the record books! Many are winter weary. Fortunately, by the end of March, we’re starting to see signs that spring is ahead. If you look very closely, you’ll see snow melting and buds swelling.
Gardeners, ever optimistic, are planning ahead. Already we find reasons to put our hands in the dirt.
I’ve been keeping records about my garden activities for many years. I always note when I’ve started seeds, when I transplant the plants into the garden, and details about harvest. At the end of the season, I review my journal and write about successes as well as miserable failures. I want to make sure I don’t repeat mistakes.
From experience, I know that now is the time to start onions. For years, I grew onions from sets. I managed to get ok crops but when I finally started growing onions from seed, I got some of the biggest onions ever! Here’s a photo of one of my fellow Maine Master Gardeners holding up some of his remarkable onions started from seed.
More onion varieties are available from seeds than from sets. Gardeners in northern areas should focus on long-day onions. They need more than 15 hours of light daily during the peak season to form bulbs. In my area, that’s from early May to early July. That means that we need to start seeds under lights in the house in March so they’re mature enough to by mid-summer. Onions can be transplanted out into the garden as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. They can handle a light frost – even a bit of snow.
Winter is a great time to fuss over houseplants. Most are not putting on new growth so it’s an opportunity to separate and transplant them into fresh soil and larger pots. When days do start getting warmer and sunnier, their roots will already be well established in their new pots and they won’t miss a beat. Some houseplants are already stimulated into bloom when the days start getting longer in March. My African violets are starting to put on a fabulous show.
|I haven’t watered my cactus since December to avoid problems with rot during their semi-dormancy on the cold windowsill. Now, they too know that spring is coming. They’re bursting into bloom!|
Sping can't be far off!!