In the process of adding to my "Bits & Pieces" file I reread one clipped idea that I had forgotten . This is the perfect time to share.
In a few weeks the Christmas wreaths will be taken down. Then what to do with the frames? We feel guilty tossing in the trash, so we save it with good intentions. The question remains--what to do to give the frame an extended life?
Here's one idea. Use the wreath frame for a plant support. Attach bamboo or metal stakes as "legs". Give it an outdoor spray paint job and you've got bragging rights for a recycle project.
Are you a flower seed-saver? Here's an idea for marking and saving a special color variety. Save the plastic tag fasteners that secure bags of bread and baked goods. When the flower is in full bloom, write the color on the tag and slip it on the flower stem. It is an easy way to tell which seeds to collect when they ripen.
Writing on plastic that is used outdoors and is exposed to the elements can be problematic. The ink usually disappears even if the pen is labelled permanent. This year I am going to follow a garden hint and use a marker that is designated as a "laundry marker-permanent-stays on when washed". The pen might also be marketed as a "fabric marker", also water resistant and permanent.
Christmas has traditionally been a sock giving gift for sports minded guys. If you are a sweet talker maybe you can talk a favorite guy into recycling an old pair as a gardeners sock-sleeve. Cut about 6 inches off a long tube sock (the foot end). Pull the tube onto your arm so the elastic band is around your wrist. When you are gardening near plants that can irritate your skin, the sock-sleeve offers protection in addition to your gloves.
Soon we will be thinking of seed starting. Many native plants' seeds germinate only after being exposed to a cold period of at least three months. The cold treatment is one of the processes of seed stratification. Some gardeners stratify seeds by placing them in the refrigerator. I tried that one year but was not successful.
Seeds sown directly in the ground in the fall generally aren't successful being either washed away or eaten by critters.
A Massachusetts garden coach and author offered the following method for seeds that require cold treatment. Examples include columbine, milkweed and phlox.
The gardener created mini-greenhouses using recycled produce containers. Wash the containers in a 10 percent bleach to remove any possible pathogens. Poke holes in the bottom and top of the containers for drainage and ventilation. Add 2 to 3 inches of moistened seed starting mix. Sow seeds at their recommended depth. Affix the lids tightly. Allow the containers to sit inside overnight to ensure the seeds are moistened before being exposed to the cold. Place the containers where they will be safe from animals and high winds. Come spring bottom-water the containers to keep them moist. Monitor the temperature and remove the lid on sunny days that are over 60 degrees. Transplants may be small but they will be hardy.
No matter the season, there's always a project on the horizon!
Check out Gardening: Get Good at It "T'was the Night Before Christmas" segment Tuesday Dec. 24 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am