Gardener's Grapevine 2012.02.15

Written by David Green.

Last week I wrote about starting plants inside for outdoor use in the spring and summer. After I wrote that article I got to thinking about my first grade teacher, Mrs. Alice Sutton. Her husband was the town’s veterinarian when I was a child and they both were nature lovers.  Our church yard and landscaping are cared for with an endowment made by Mrs. Sutton in her husband’s memory.

For those of you who never met this powerhouse little lady, you missed out. When I was in her class I learned many things including how to read, and I can’t imagine a life where I was unable to read. I adore snuggling up with a soft blanket, a cup of tea and a good book.

She also taught me to start plants in a cup and what was going on each step of the way. We started pumpkins in clear plastic cups. You could see the seed germinate and sprout, and see the sprout push upward through the soil. My pumpkin went home to our family garden on my Uncle Papp’s (Eldredge) farm. We got some very nice pumpkins for halloween that year.

Teachers give us lessons that stay with us forever and we should thank teachers for all they give us. Today teachers carry an even heavier load of not only educating our young people, but also making sure they learn many things that aren’t taught at home anymore like manners, social graces, nutrition and respect for others. Our teachers give so much and many people do not realize that. I read that there are many children in this country who go home on Friday and don’t know if they will eat again until Monday at school. A little knowledge of gardening and freezing could help solve this problem.

Once plants are in cups and growing, they need transplanting. Transplanting does not necessarily mean moving them to the garden. It means removing them from their current container to another location. After germination when the plants have two good strong leaves, they must be transplanted. Most seeds are so small that many plants wind up in the same container, and if not separated will not grow properly as they have to be able to stretch their roots out and crowding stunts them.

Gently remove the contents of the original container to a place that you can work the plants loose from one another. Using the leaves to lift the tender plants, separate them. Plant one plant per container, being sure to cover the roots completely with growing medium or soil. The same type of soil used to start the seed is fine, but use new soil as the original soil is probably completely wiped out of nutrients.

Water and fertilize the seedlings using house plant fertilizer at half strength. Don’t overwater or let the tender seedlings dry out. Keep newly transplanted seedlings in the shade for a few days and away from direct heat or anything that will dry them out. These seedlings are like an infant that is beginning to be mobile and needs to be protected from potential harm.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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