If your kids are home and you’re looking for an activity to not only keep them busy, but also learn about plants and nature – start your own seeds.
You can buy seeds for as little as $1.00/packet from DollarSeed.com or also find deals on Amazon.
If you prefer not to go to the store to get supplies, you can buy them from Amazon or just use with what you have around the house. I have used old yogurt containers for seeds, just punch in holes in the bottom for drainage. You may need some slow-release fertilizer like Osmocote, depending on the type of soil you have.
If it’s warm enough in your area of the country, you may be able to plant directly into the soil. In St. Louis, I usually wait until May 1st to plant.
In St. Louis, Missouri, April is always a month for safety first when it comes to new plants. Many new plants that I buy or have started in the basement are much better off outside, but with temperatures below freezing at times, you have to figure out how to protect the plants.
I don’t plant until after May 1st, so I have to keep on top of the weather for all of April.
Here is one way I use to protect my plants.
I put them on a rolling shelf unit. When the temperature is above 45 degrees, I roll out the plants and give them water and sunshine. I don’t put them in full sun all day, but will start them out in sunshine and then move them to a shady area.
At night when the temperatures go below 40 degrees, I bring them inside the garage for protection.
I am already getting questions on when to plant in the St.Louis area, so I thought I’d do a little research on the weather averages.
May 1st is my standard answer for best planting date and it seems to stand the test of time. While you can certainly put in tougher plants like pansies, most annuals and more tender plants need the warmer temperatures.
If you look at the graph below, you can see that while the Normal Lows for April are in the 50’s by the end of the month, the Record Lows can be in the 20’s and 30’s. The Climate Graphs for May also show that there are no instances of freezing weather in the last fifty years.
May 1st seems to be a good planting date in this area. If you want to live dangerously you can plant earlier, but I would look at the 10 day forecast to be safe.
With the first frosts of fall, my garden turns from a lovely shade of green to a dirty brown with withered sticks and leaves. While my first inclination is to clean up everything, there may be seeds that you can collect or even save for the birds.
Here’s a good video which talks about some of your options.
At a recent GPHA (Gateway Professional Horticulturist Association) meeting, Jesse Gilbertson, who is the Horticulture Director for U City in Bloom, talked to us about what the group has been doing for the last thirty years. If he does this again, I’d encourage you to attend. It’s a great program for groups trying to put in gardens for a city. Here are a few notes from that presentation.
Mission Statement – Our mission is to enhance and beautify our community through public gardens, community partnerships, citizen involvement and environmental education.
114 containers – 76 hanging baskets, 8 school properties, 115 – garden beds and 64 gardens -some big some small.
It’s a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
He doesn’t put in any new garden without a water source. Find money to get irrigation – at least a spigot.
On some of the front beds, they are all annuals. “Eyecandy.”
Depending on the bed, he uses a mix of annuals, perennials, cultivars, natives etc. He gets some criticism for using some non-native plants.
Recommends the book – Parks, Plants, and People: Beautifying the Urban Landscape by Lynden Miller (Tom has this book.)
Talks about developing wildlife corridors.
They do have a water “truck” to water containers.
They work with Forestry and Parks Department and ask for help when needed.
Raising Money is a big part of what they do.
Plant Sales – they get plants from residents gardens and re-pot them up for sale.
Donations and Grants
Ask for free plants from nursery.
He also asks June Hutson – MoBot for divisions of certain plants.
Some money from the city and the school district.
They have about 200 volunteers all together – 12 to 15 which volunteer on a regular basis in the beds. They also look for volunteer groups – companies?
Total revenue is about $160,000.
Have signs on all of their beds.
They do have events in some of their gardens with other organizations.
They don’t use Preen or landscape fabric.
Median – they put in water lines/irrigation, but have to watch for not blocking car sight lines.
They try to create a Bouquet theme – lots of different flowers and color.