HELEN LANG: Dreaming of a spring garden

In just over a week now it will be February and February has Valentine’s Day to brighten its dull weather

In just over a week now it will be February and February has Valentine’s Day to brighten its dull weather.

Actually I’m not expecting any love-notes this year … well, maybe one from my son and perhaps a couple of my daughters will think kindly of me. I got a wonderful card this Christmas from my eldest daughter giving me credit for all sorts of nice things she feels she may have inherited from me, which would be bound to annoy her dead father whose name was Douglas (not Jim).

I remember elementary school days when Valentines’ cards were exchanged. Giggling girls in the halls, showing off for the boys who made a point of ignoring them (both the cards and the girls). Silly, but harmless although I still recall one card I cherished.

We were in Grade 3 and the boy’s name was Valentine Ramsdale. It must have made a real impression on me!

I’m going to send at least one mushy card to a male friend just to worry his current girlfriend and besides I’m very fond of him myself and he is single. Hi, John! Yoohoo! (Kidding, kidding.)

This week I’m going to Dig This to see if any of the current catalogues are in. Lying in bed, hacking and sniffling was so boring I spent a  lot of time dreaming of a spring garden.

I even put a package of little Marvel peas to soak prior to planting them (only in my dreams).

Actually, peas are so hardy some gardeners plant them in late fall — fairly deep and the green shoots appear, like magic, in late February.

A layer of rotted manure a couple of inches beneath where the pea seeds are to go (two or three inches of soil on top) soon would give it a chance to blend with its surroundings.

I wonder if I could sneak a small bag of manure up in the elevator without causing a riot.

I could disguise it as fruit of some sort if I sprayed it with apple-blossom perfume.

I opened the door to the balcony this morning and discovered, to my delight, that the potato pieces I planted last summer have suddenly decided to show up.

There is a pot full of big leaves in spite of its being January and they are potato leaves. I can’t explain it, but am looking forward to their maturing sometime in the coming months and a feast of those succulent new spuds, sprinkled with salt and slathered with butter.

New potatoes need butter — margarine just won’t do it for me.

Lovely surprise, indeed!

I want to talk for a minute about geraniums and propogating them from cuttings and saving the parent plants as well.

I propose to cut off the top half of each plant, bring it inside, dip it in rooting hormone (shake off loose powder) and sit them all in water in a bowl on the kitchen counter (where I can keep an eye on them.)

When they produce roots, even tiny ones, I’ll plant them in soil, but keep them inside until they show signs of new growth.

The parent plants, if given a drink, will likely start to re-grow and you’ll have enough  geraniums to open a garden centre.

I’ve just had another look at those geraniums and they look rather tragic, rather shrivelled and sort of brown.

Not a good sign.

Oh dear, I had such high hopes for them and they have looked so pert all winter. Why are they suddenly looking so sad?

I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what will happen over the next couple of weeks and hope for the best.

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.



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