Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gardening Tips for March

--by Pat Kriener, Village interpreter and Master Gardener

Spring is just around the corner!  For a Texas gardener every year we are tempted to purchase plants that look so tantalizing in the garden center but we know the next cold spell will kill them. Of course there is no way to stop us so now what do we do with our ill-advised purchases. We just have to make a “Just in Case it Freezes Plan” and this basic plan really applies to all of your plants in the winter but especially your cold tender plants.  Water deeply, mulch at least 3 inches and, if your plant is very cold susceptible, cover with frost cloth, a sheet or a pot with hay.

  • Annuals – Color is here! The garden centers are awash with the colors & scents of spring. In Texas, our cool weather plants thrive in the spring.  Start looking to replace or freshen your beds with some hardier plants for the summer.  Think COLD SNAP with every purchase.
  • Bulbs - It’s time to divide summer bulbs. Plant your summer blooming bulbs, African iris, agapanthus, alpinia, cannas, dahlia, gladiolus, lilies, oxalis, naked ladies, society garlic, and spider lily to name a few. The daffodils are blooming--one of the first heralds in spring.
  • Compost Bin – Make a new compost bin using 3 old pallets. Simply stand them up to create a 3-sided box and screw them together. Leave the front open or attach one more pallet using hinges so it can open and close. Throw all plant clipping, leaves, vegetable and garden waste in your new bin. Cold compost will take up to 9 months to convert your waste into compost but a Hot compost will do it in 4 months. Top-dress all beds & trees with compost.
  • Containers – For those of you with limited space or who just love to container garden, the garden centers are full of annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetables and more. Create your own salad bowl or edible flower garden right next to the kitchen door. 
  • Herbs - start indoor seeds, divide large clumps, cut back winter damage, clean containers, top dress & mulch and plant hardy herbs.
  • Greenhouse - I must confess that any of my plants that over-winter in the greenhouse have spent more time out than in with our mild temperatures..but they are on a covered porch and I keep a few blankets and sheets ready to cover them for a sudden frost. Just think...more room in the greenhouse for those ill-advised purchases!  Mainly it’s time to start summer vegetables and annuals plants by seed and perennials by cutting or division. Watch the temperatures and airflow.
  • Lawn - Weeds in the your yard? Think of them as our pollinator’s winter food. Can’t do that? Then mow your yard short and keep it short until the temperatures climb and kill out many of the weeds we have now. Use an organic pre-emergent like corn gluten meal to destroy weed seeds. Remember that it destroys any seed so don’t use in your vegetable garden if you plant by seed or in your wildflower beds or fields. Check with your local garden center for what will work best for you & your yard.
  • Mulch to keep your beds weed free and retain moisture. Pull back your existing mulch, put 10 sheets of newspaper down, then replace your mulch. If it is less than 3 inches thick add more.
  • Perennials - many are showing signs of life. Make sure they are watered and mulched to protect them in a cold snap.
  • Problems -.For questions or problems  check with your local Extension Agent, Master Gardener or Garden Center. 
  • Rainwater - Spring rains are here! Start passive rainwater harvesting by simply placing buckets or barrels under the drip line of your roof
  • Roses – Want a little color in your life?  This is a great time to visit the garden centers and check out the new stock of roses.
  • Trees - Plant trees, trees and more trees. Then watch the Lorax by Dr. Seuss...the old version or go see the new version to remember what happens UNLESS you speak for the trees.
  • Vegetable Garden –Plan your Spring Garden NOW before it’s too late! You can still start spring seeds inside to be planted in 6 to 8 weeks. Plant Now; collards, kohlrabi, lima beans, mustard, onion sets, shallots, radish, snap beans and Swiss chard. Plant Late March; peppers, southern peas, summer squash, tomatoes, watermelons, and winter squash. I could not resist buying a few tomato plants even though I know it is too early.   So if you are like me up pot them into a 1 gal pot and put in the greenhouse. Don’t have a greenhouse?   Plant them and put your tomato cage over them. Wrap the cage in plastic and have hay ready to toss over them when that cold snap hits. Don’t have tomato cages?  Simply cut the bottom out of a 1 or 5 gal black pot, bury it in the ground a couple of inches, and plant your tomato plant inside. Again...cover if needed.
  • Watering – Water in a 7-day cycle if we do not get any rain. In the winter, sudden freezes can kill a plant if is dry. But water the soil not the leaves. It is the roots that need the protection of moisture and mulch, but if it is tender toss frost cloth or a sheet over the plant.
  • Wildflowers – It is time to spread seed but make sure the seed you are buying is for Texas.
  • Wildlife in the Garden - Get your feeders, houses cleaned and put up now. I already have bluebirds making nests in my houses. You can tell they are bluebird nests because they are made of dry grass with no trash or weeds and just few feathers for softness. If you are wondering why I want bluebirds, they are insect eaters and one of their favorites are grasshoppers. 
Have fun this month in the garden...but especially in the garden centers!

Monday, March 12, 2012

It's Spring Break, y'all!

Take your vitamins and put on your most comfortable's Spring Break in Cowtown!  And we've got a whole crew of excited historical interpreters here to ensure your visit to Log Cabin Village is the very best it can be!

Because of our proximity to the Fort Worth Zoo, it can sometimes be a little tricky to get to the Village.  We've got a number of tips to help you get here, however:

  • Access our lot from our University Drive entrance.  The Rogers Ave. entrance will be closed for the duration of Spring Break.
  • As you are heading south on University from I-30, stay in the right (furthest west) lane.  That will help you get through the light at Colonial Parkway and turn right into our lot.
  • Our lot will be monitored by police to ensure we have PLENTY of parking for Village visitors.  No Zoo parking will be allowed in our lot!
  • We open at 9 a.m., so plan to come early.  Zoo traffic doesn't pick up until closer to 10 a.m. (when the Zoo opens).
  • We are spread out over 2 1/2 acres, so we have plenty of room for a TON of visitors. 
  • We are open RAIN OR SHINE.  If it rains, bring an umbrella and experience the tranquility of raindrops hitting cedar shake roofs.  The view is most peaceful from the Parker porch!
  • Consider taking the #7 bus, biking (we've got awesome bike racks), carpooling, or taking the Safari Shuttle!
  • Be patient.  It may take you a little longer to get here, but it will be worth it!
Also remember that we have a fun and exciting event scheduled to cap off your Spring Break week!  More details are below.

Questions?  Call 817-392-5881, e-mail, ask on Facebook, or Tweet...and we'll get back to you ASAP!  See you soon!

P.S.  Check in on Foursquare or Facebook and get a free piece of thin stick candy!

March 17, 2012
1-4 p.m.
It’s time for spring and St. Patrick’s Day at the Village! Cap off your spring break by playing with old-time toys and games, listening to Celtic tunes from Buttermilk Junction Old Time String Band, plowing the field, and helping plant our sunflower fort and bean tipi. You can even make your own frontier toy to take home! Cost is regular Village admission plus $2 craft fee to make the toy.

Hours of Operation:
Tue-Fri, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Sat & Sun, 1 p.m.- 5 p.m. (event ends at 4 p.m. on Saturday)
Closed Mondays

$4.00 for ages 4-17 and 65 & over
$4.50 for ages 18 & over
Free for ages 3 & under