‘THE SAGE’-Klein’s Online Newsletter—APRIL 2017
Klein’s Floral & Greenhouses
3758 E. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53704

THIS MONTH’S HIGHLIGHTS:
Our 2017 Spring Plant List Goes On-line About April 15!
Our ‘Mad Gardener’ Is Ready for Your Questions
Administrative Professionals Week is April 23-29
Purple Cow Organics® Compost Tea Bags
Best Recipes For Homemade Hand Slaves & Creams
Klein’s Favorite Seed, Bulb & Plant Sources
Seed Starting Basics for Maximum Success
You Asked the Mad Gardener About Fertilizing Raspberries
Plant of the Month: Senetti® Percallis (Cineraria) Hybrids
Our Very Favorite Recipes Using Hardboiled Eggs
Product Spotlight: Chore & Garden Gloves at Klein’s
Notes from Rick’s Garden Journal—From April 2017
—Spring Bulbs–the Minor Players
—Robins Invade In Force
—Klein’s Introduces a New Potting Mix
April in the Garden: A Planner
Gardening Events Around Town
Review Klein’s @: Yelp, Google Reviews or Facebook Reviews
Join Us on Twitter
Follow Us on Facebook
Join Klein’s Blooming Plant or Fresh Flower Club
Delivery Information
Related Resources and Websites
Plants Harmful to Kids and Pets
OUR 2017 SPRING PLANT LIST can be viewed on-line beginning about April 15 by clicking on Spring Plants on the left side of our home page. This comprehensive listing contains every plant that Klein’s will be offering for the 2017 season and is extremely helpful for both the home gardener and landscaper alike. The list contains fun facts, cultural information and pot or pack size for each item and comes in very handy in planning your garden this spring.
FOR NEIGHBORHOOD EVENTS OR GARDEN TOURS that you would like posted on our web site or in our monthly newsletters, please contact Rick at (608) 244-5661 or [email protected] or Sue at [email protected]. Please include all details, i.e. dates, locations, prices, brief description, etc. Our readership is ever-growing so this is a great opportunity for free advertising. Events must be garden related and must take place in the immediate Madison vicinity.
THE MAD GARDENER
“Madison’s Firsthand Source for Expert Gardening Advice”

Ask any of your gardening questions by e-mailing them to us at [email protected]. Klein’s in-house Mad Gardener will e-mail you with an answer as promptly as we can. We’ve also posted a link to this e-mail address on our home page for your convenience. Your question might then appear in the “You Asked” feature of our monthly newsletter. If your question is the one selected for our monthly newsletter, you’ll receive a small gift from us at Klein’s. The Mad Gardener hopes to hear from you soon!

Sorry, we can only answer those questions pertaining to gardening in Southern Wisconsin and we reserve the right to leave correspondence unanswered at our discretion. Please allow 2-3 days for a response.

Please note that our Mad Gardener is not only an expert gardener, but can answer all of your indoor plant questions as well.

 

APRIL STORE HOURS:
Monday thru Friday : 8:00-6:00
Saturday: 9:00-5:00
Sunday: 10:00-4:00

Extended Spring Hours Begin Saturday, April 29.
Monday thru Friday : 8:00-8:00
Tuesdays: 7:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
Saturday: 8:00-6:00
Sunday: 9:00-5:00

CALENDAR OF EVENTS:
April 1—April Fool’s Day

April 9—Palm Sunday.

April 11—Passover Begins

April 11–Full Moon

April 12Drop-in Miniature Gardening & Terrarium Workshop. Spring break fun for kids or the whole family! Come create a miniature garden/terrarium! Drop in on Wednesday April 12, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. Liven up your home with an indoor garden of your own design. Kids under the age of 12 we kindly ask to be accompanied by an adult or older sibling. Kathryn will help you build a miniature garden or terrarium decorated with your imagination and creativity! Cost depends on the plants, container and decorations selected. Feel free to bring a container from home. Please call 608-244-5661 or email [email protected] to register!

April 14–Good Friday

April 15–First Farmers’ Market on the Capitol Square, 6:00-2:00

April 16–Easter Sunday, Klein’s will be open 10:00-4:00.

April 16—Orthodox Easter

April 18—Tax Day

April 22–Earth Day

April 23–Beginning of Administrative Professionals Week. In appreciation to those people who make your life so much easier, have one of Klein’s talented designers create for you that perfect ‘Thank You.’ Nothing displays your appreciation better than a lovely bouquet of spring flowers or a cheerful blooming plant. Order early. This is one of Klein’s busiest delivery weeks.

April 26–Administrative Professionals Day

April 28–Arbor Day

April 29–First Day of Klein’s Extended Spring Hours. The days are longer and there’s lots to do in the garden. We make shopping easier to fit into your hectic schedule by offering extended retail hours from late April through much of June. Evenings are a great time to shop at Klein’s. The greenhouses are cooler and the lines are short. It makes for a more relaxed shopping experience and our staff is more available to answer all your gardening questions. Look under April Store Hours above for more details.

May 10–This is Madison’s average last frost date, but keep your eye on the weather before planting. Madison has a notorious reputation for late May frosts. Many local old-time gardeners refuse to plant, especially their tomatoes, peppers, morning glories, etc. until Memorial Day weekend when the soil has warmed properly. Novice gardeners have a tendency to plant too early!

May 14–Mother’s Day. Order early and shop early!!! Mother’s Day is second only to Valentine’s Day for deliveries and the Saturday before Mother’s Day is traditionally our busiest day of the entire year. Extra drivers will be on the road Saturday, May 10 for prompt and efficient service. Click on Delivery Information on the left side of our home page for more details about Klein’s delivery. Because this is our busiest day of the year in the greenhouse, will not be delivering on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14.

‘THE FLOWER SHOPPE’:
The following excerpt is from the Society of American Florists website at www.aboutflowers.com.

Administrative Professionals Week, also known as Professional Secretaries Week, is a time to recognize support staff for their accomplishments and contributions to corporate success. Research from Texas A&M University reveals one gift of appreciation in particular that will naturally lift an employee’s mood, create a lasting memory and boost productivity.

The research demonstrates that flowers and plants enhance people’s ability to generate ideas and solve problems.

“Our study shows that adding flowers and plants to a work environment can be very meaningful to businesses in the modern economy,” said Roger Ulrich, Ph.D., lead Texas A&M researcher. “People’s productivity, innovation and creative problem solving, improved – which in certain circumstances could mean the difference between mild and great business success.”

Tips for Busy Bosses
A simple “Thank You” can go a long way to motivate employees and build loyalty. Administrative Professionals Week (APW) offers an ideal opportunity to show appreciation – and formally reinforce the value of an employee’s contributions. The Society of American Florists offers this simple guide to help smart managers put the benefits of proper office etiquette to work during APW and year-round.

•Use APW to find out what motivates your staff. Conduct a formal or informal survey asking support staffers what kinds of incentives they value most. This will show your commitment and give you hints on what forms of appreciation they would enjoy during APW.

•Be open and direct. If you’re not sure whether the members of your support staff want to be recognized during APW, just ask them.

•Include everyone on your team. Make APW a time to thank all of your support staff – from secretaries to assistants to junior managers – for their contributions.

•Make “thank-yous” personal. Whether you’re buying a gift or making lunch reservations, think about the individual. For example, if you’re ordering flowers, ask your florist to create an arrangement that fits the recipient’s personality. Is that person traditional? Outdoorsy? Dramatic?

•Be specific. Tell the members of your support staff exactly what they did that you appreciate.

•Treat Administrative Professionals Week like a New Year’s resolution. Resolve to practice better office etiquette year-round to build your team’s confidence and cohesion. Whether it’s celebrated with a gift, flowers, or a group luncheon, APW is an opportunity to formally acknowledge the members of your support staff for their contributions throughout the year and wipe the slate clean of any forgotten thank-yous.

Administrative Professionals Week History
Formerly called Professional Secretaries Week, Administrative Professionals Week (April 23-29, 2017) is a tradition of honoring administrative professionals during the last full week of April.

Professional Secretaries Week was started in an effort to recognize secretaries for their contributions to the workplace, and to attract young people to secretarial careers. The idea began with Mary Barrett, president of the then National Secretaries Association (now International Association of Administrative Professionals), along with public relations consultant Harry Klemfuss, and Dictaphone Corporation president C. King Woodbridge. Secretary of Commerce Charles Sawyer proclaimed the first National Secretaries Week June 1 through June 7, 1952, with Wednesday, June 4, as Secretaries Day. The date was changed in 1955 to the last full week in April.

Over the years, Administrative Professionals Week has become one of the largest workplace observances. The event is celebrated worldwide, bringing together millions of people for observances ranging from community luncheons and educational seminars, to individual bosses recognizing their support staff with gifts of appreciation.

YOU ASKED THE MAD GARDENER . . .
When & what kind of fertilizer do I need to use on my raspberries plants?
Thanks, Karen

Hi Karen,
My personal choice is to apply a yearly top dressing of aged manure, compost or both in the fall. Doing so every year not only adds nutrients, but slowly amends the soil as the years progress.

For the current season, however, any balanced fertilizer would work just fine (17.17.17, 20.20.20 or similar rates). If you choose to use natural or organic fertilizers, the rates (usually about 4.4.4) will be much less and you won’t get the immediate results you may be looking for. A water soluble fertilizer such as Jack’s, Miracle-Gro or similar will give you the quickest results.

Thanks for your question,
Klein’s Mad Gardener
DID YOU KNOW. . .
. . . that it’s easy to make your own hand care creams and salves to soothe and treat your garden-worn hands?

…and many of the recipes we’ve found online use ingredients you may already have at home. Here a few of the best we’ve found:

Gardener’s Salve
1/2 c. coconut oil
1 c. olive oil (may infuse with your choice of herbs)
1/2 c. beeswax (add more in warm weather)
Melt carefully in a pint jar, either in double boiler or microwave on 30 second bursts.
Stir with a fork as it cools.

Gardener’s Hand Salve
1/2 cup olive oil
1 heaping Tbs. beeswax
30 drops lemon essential oil
20 drops eucalyptus essential oil
15 drops cypress essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil

Fill a medium sized pot half way full with water. Place a glass pyrex bowl with a spout in the water. Turn the stove to medium heat. Add Olive Oil and beeswax. Once beeswax is totally melted, remove from heat. Add essential oils. Pour into a glass jar. This recipe makes about 4 ounces.

Garden Hand Salve
10 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup beeswax (pastilles or grated wax)
4 Tbs. virgin coconut oil
8 drops lavender essential oil
8 drops tea tree oil
8 drops rosemary essential oil
1/2 tsp. Vitamin E oil

Place about 2 inches of water in the bottom of a small pan. Put a pourable heatproof glass or metal container in the middle of the pan (i.e. a Pyrex measuring cup). Add the olive oil, beeswax, and coconut oil to the container. Bring the water to a boil, and stir with a wooden utensil (the handle of a wooden spoon works well) until everything has melted. Once everything has liquified, remove the pan from the heat. Add the lavender, rosemary, tea tree, and Vitamin E oils. Stir to fully disperse. Carefully pour the oil into the container(s) of choice. Once the oil has cooled and solidified, label and date. Store in a cool place out of direct sunlight. Makes 3/4 cup.

Gardener’s Hand Salve
4 Tbs. grated beeswax
4 Tbs. coconut oil
8 Tbs. almond oil
25 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops tea tree oil
6 drops spearmint oil

In a double boiler, melt beeswax. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut and almond oils, then essential oils. Pour into a small jar and let cool before putting on the lid. Massage into hands as needed.

Gardener’s Hand Cream
4 oz. shea butter
2½ Tbs. sunflower or olive oil
1½ tsp. corn starch or arrowroot powder
5 to 10 drops essential oil of choice (optional)

Weigh out the shea butter and add it to a medium-sized mixing bowl (If you don’t own a scale, a tightly packed 1/2 measuring cup yields almost the same amount.). Whip the shea butter until light and fluffy. A stand mixer works best for this recipe, but you can also make do with a hand-held mixer, used in bursts to avoid over-heating. Add the sunflower oil and corn starch then beat again until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add a few drops of essential oil if desired. Beat the mixture for a final time. The finished cream will resemble a fluffy buttercream frosting. Spoon the hand cream into glass jars for storage. When stored in a cool, dry place, the cream will keep for 6 months to a year. Some settling will occur over time. Makes about 1 cup.
As for already prepared, store-bought salves the following are consistently rated the best by online consumer reviews:

Crabtree & Evelyn Gardeners Therapy—This well reviewed hand cream is concocted with shea butter, green clover, lavender, yarrow, and calendula to be nourishing and protective to gardeners’ hands. It is available online and in Crabtree & Evelyn stores.

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream—This highly concentrated formula has been clinically proven to help relieve dry hands. Rich in glycerin, this hand cream is long-lasting and noticeably helps improve the look and feel of dry skin. This hand cream contains no fragrance.

Burt’s Bees Farmer’s Friend Hand Salve—Burt’s Bees is a Maine-based company that sells all-natural body products such as lip balms, shampoos, and moisturizers. Burt’s Bees Hand Salve is described as their most intensive hand treatment and is made with olive oil, beeswax, rosemary comfrey, and lavender.

Bag Balm—Bag Balm was originally concocted to soften cow udders and has been sold in its signature green tin for over 100 years. The company began in 1899 and still operates in its original location in Vermont today. Bag Balm is sold as a hand salve for humans as well as a tincture for domesticated animals such as dogs, horses and cows. Its active ingredients are an antiseptic and a petrolatum and lanolin base.
PRODUCT SPOTLIGHTEach month we spotlight some product that we already carry or one that we’ve taken note of and plan to carry in the near future. Likewise, if you would like to see Klein’s to carry a product that we don’t currently, please let us know. Our goal is to be responsive to the marketplace and to our loyal clientele. If a product fits into our profile, we will make every effort to get it into our store. In addition, we may be able to special order an item for you, whether plant or hard good, given enough time.

Gardening Gloves from LFS Gloves (Bellingham®) and Big Time Products

Hand in hand with keeping your hands soft after time in the garden (please see the Did You Know section above), the first and most important step is to protect your hands in the first place.

Here at Klein’s, we carry one of the largest selections of chore and gardening gloves in the Madison area. Our selection is full-spectrum and for every imaginable gardening task. Materials range from simple cotton gloves through durable leather and everything in between. Touchscreen compatibility is the newest feature in glove technology, allowing the wearer to use their cell phone or tablet without having to remove their gloves first.

All of the gloves we’ve chosen to carry are designed not only for comfort, but also with safety in mind. Most of our gloves are of ‘sure-grip’ design. Or in the case of our ‘thorn-handlers’, tender forearms are protected from unwanted pokes and scratches.

In addition, chore gloves can be more than just functional; keeping fashion in mind. Klein’s carries a wide range of styles and color options for all tastes. We even have a nice selection of kids gloves for the budding gardener in your family.

Stop by and check out our chore and garden gloves soon for best selection and before the gardening season gets under full swing.

NOTES FROM MY GARDEN JOURNAL–Tips and Observations from My Own Garden by Rick Halbach

ENTRY: MARCH 11, 2017 (Spring Bulbs–the Minor Players)
As the years have passed the overall appearance of the spring bulbs in the yard–the minor players–have surpassed my wildest expectations. What started out 30 years ago as handfuls of pea-sized bulbs planted in the fall are now sweeps of the most beautiful shades of blue, pink and white, with a splash of yellow here and there. It’s this early burst from the minor players that sets the stage for things to come; when the major players–the daffodils, tulips and alliums (among others) take the stage. The small species bulbs have performed as promised, by naturalizing well throughout the gardens and even into the lawn. Those few hours spent planting them in the late 80’s has been well worth the wait.

Who are these minor players you ask? Why, they’re the scillas, the pushkinias, the chionodoxas, the aconites, the snowdrops and the species crocus that fill the yard. These are the first of the bulbs to bloom after the snow melts and the first to go dormant as the summer heats up. They all self-sow with abandon and have created a very natural looking environment. I no longer know where I planted the original handfuls of bulbs.

Like all of the spring bloomers, bulbs become available in the late summer and early fall. Like all bulbs planted in the fall, it’s best to wait until October to plant them; once the soil has cooled sufficiently after the summer heat. If purchased early, they store well in the refrigerator until ready to plant.

Unlike the bigger tulip and daffodil bulbs, planting the minor players is a breeze. I simply scatter the small bulbs over the soil surface to give a random and natural, rather than a planned, effect. Then I take a narrow trowel, jab it a few inches into the soil and pull back to create a slit into which I drop the bulb. I try to make sure the growing tip is pointing upward, but bulbs (especially these small ones) have a tendency to right themselves when planted incorrectly. Then with the heal of my hand, I push the slit closed and move on. Hundreds of bulbs can be planted in very short order. The hundreds become thousands with a little patience and as the years pass. It’s important to let the plants self sow and not remove yellowing foliage in the springtime. They’ll disappear before you know it in summer heat.

Here are some of my very favorites:
Glory-of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa)–Naturalizes easily by self-sowing for sweeps of blue or pink. Blooms very early–just after the crocus. Deer & rodent proof. Zone 3 perennial.

Siberian Squill (Scilla)–One of the first of the spring-flowering bulbs to brighten the landscape in early spring. Flowers are the bluest of blue. Heaven for the early pollinators to the garden. It is particularly attractive when allowed to naturalize under deciduous trees and shrubs.

Snowdrops (Galanthus)–Among the first flowers in the spring to push through the snow. Naturalizes well in the garden. Native to Eastern Europe and Turkey. Deer & rodent proof. Forces easily. Zone 3 perennial.

Species Crocus–These include Crocus sieberi, Crocus chrysanthus and Crocus tommasinianus. They spread nicely through the lawn and finish blooming long before the first mowing. Their grass-like foliage blends in perfectly with the lawn once the grass comes in during the upcoming weeks. These are a favorite of early appearing honeybees.

Striped Squill (Pushkinia)–An underutilized naturalizer that works well with scilla and chionodoxa for a glorious sweep of color in the early spring garden. These natives of Turkey are at home in rocky meadows.

Winter Aconite–These bright yellow jewels are stunning against the snow in late winter. The member of the buttercup family calls home the woodlands of Europe and Asia. Once established, they self-sow easily. Loves our alkaline soil. Zone 3 perennial.

* * * * *

ENTRY: MARCH 13, 2017 (Robins Invade In Force)
It snowed nearly all day today with between 3 and 4 inches by day’s end. It’s not unusual to receive a fair amount of snow in March. In fact, March is our second snowiest month of the winter just behind December. However, the nice thing about a March snowfall is that the snow tends not to be around long now that the days are longer and the sun is so high in the sky.

Just in the past few weeks, flocks of robins have arrived in the Madison area in force and with the new snow cover, food has become a wee bit more difficult to find. That’s why there were a crazy number of robins in the crabapple tree next to my car as I was leaving work today. The tree still had a lot of shriveled fruit left on it from last season. On the ground were dozens more robins gobbling up any fruit that had been knocked from the tree. Though some flocks of robins remain this far north year round, the vast majority have just returned from areas surrounding the Gulf of Mexico.

The quintessential early bird, American robins (Turdus migratorius) are common sights on lawns all across North America (from Alaska to Florida), where you often see them tugging earthworms out of the ground. Robins are popular birds for their warm orange breast, cheery song, and early appearance at the end of winter. Though they’re familiar town and city birds, American robins are at home in wilder areas, too, including mountain forests and Alaskan wilderness.

American robins are fairly large songbirds with a large, round body, long legs, and fairly long tail. Robins are the largest North American thrushes, and their profile offers a good chance to learn the basic shape of most thrushes. Robins make a good reference point for comparing the size and shape of other birds, too.

American robins are gray-brown birds with warm orange underparts and dark heads. In flight, a white patch on the lower belly and under the tail can be conspicuous. Compared with males, females have paler heads that contrast less with the gray back.

Robins are industrious and authoritarian birds that bound across lawns or stand erect, beak tilted upward, to survey their environs. When alighting they habitually flick their tails downward several times. In fall and winter they form large flocks and gather in trees to roost or eat berries.

Males arrive before females to nesting grounds and defend territories by singing and sometimes by fighting. In early stages of courtship, females may be actively pursued by one or several males. The female does most of nest building with some help from male. The site is on a horizontal branch of tree or shrub, usually 5-25′ above ground, rarely on the ground or up to 70′ high. They also nest on ledges of houses, barns, bridges, etc. The nest is a cup of grasses, twigs, debris, worked into solid foundation of mud, lined with fine grasses and plant fibers. Eggs are a “robin’s egg” blue.

Both parents feed the young, though the female does more. Parents are very aggressive in defense of nest. The young leave the nest about 14-16 days after hatching. The male may tend the fledged young while the female begins a second nesting attempt.

Robins eat mostly insects, berries and earthworms. In early summer, insects make up majority of diet; but also feeds on many earthworms, snails, spiders, other invertebrates. Robins feed heavily on fruit, especially in winter (fruit accounts for perhaps 60% of diet year-round); mainly wild berries, but also some cultivated fruits. Young are fed mostly on insects and earthworms.

Wisconsin designated the American robin as the official state bird in 1949. The robin is also the state bird of Connecticut and Michigan.

Some interesting facts about robins:
—In the past, Robins were killed for their meat, believe it or not! However, they are now protected in the U.S. thanks to the Migratory Bird Act.

—Drunk Robins!? Yes, Robins sometimes will flock to fermented berries. By ingesting large quantities, they appear to be drunk and exhibit behaviors such as falling over while walking.

* * * * *

ENTRY: MARCH 30, 2017 (Klein’s Introduces a New Potting Mix)
Seed starting, transplanting and repotting are now in full swing in my basement ‘plant room’. Both of my heating mats and nearly all of my florescent “grow” lights are up and running. Everything will switch into high gear over the next few weeks.

Among the seeds I started this past weekend was a tray of four o’clocks. Because they are large plants and don’t transplant easily, I sow the seeds directly into 2” square Jiffy peat pots. Seeing as they’ll remain in those pots until planted into the garden in late May, I sow the seeds directly into potting soil, rather than a light seed starting mix.

Through the years my potting soil of choice has been Fafard 3B. I noticed years ago that my plants performed better (especially in a cool basement) in this bark-based mix rather than the more popular and readily available peat moss-based mixes. I’ve been a fan of the Fafard 3B mix ever since, not only for indoor uses, but as my go-to, all purpose mix. Because it’s bark-based, it drains better and more quickly than water-retentive peaty mixes thereby making it somewhat more difficult to overwater. And because many of us at Klein’s were such fans of Fafard 3B, sales skyrocketed and it became hard to keep in stock at certain times of the year. Hundreds of customers were familiar with the mix’s bright blue bag. The 2.8 cubic foot bags meant having to shop for potting mix less often.

Then about 2 or 3 years ago the bright blue bag disappeared and became unavailable. Instead, Fafard 3B was being packaged in a generic white ‘grower’ bag with kelly green lettering under the Sun-Gro name. It became confusing for many of our customers. On the back of the bag the Fafard name still appeared in small print at the bottom and 3B showed up in equally small letters on one side of the bag. Through education, sales of the newly packaged Fafard/Sun-Gro 3B continued to grow.

Though essentially the same bark-based mix in the new bag and the old blue bag, the potting mix had changed somewhat as time passed. The mix (to me) seemed slightly heavier and with noticeably bigger particles (sometimes even fairly large pieces of bark). That said, I really didn’t notice any change in how my plants performed.

Then last year we learned that in actuality the make up of the current Sun-Gro 3B mix is, in fact, somewhat different than the original Fafard 3B of years back. During the reshuffling of the soil producing companies, the recipe had apparently changed to some extent.

In 2017 for the first time in a very long time, Klein’s will be shaking up our bagged potting mix choices a bit; and we believe for the better. Among the biggest changes is that we will be offering Jolly Gardener Pro-line CB mix in 2.8 cu. ft. bags in place of the Sun-Gro (Fafard) 3B mix. From what we’ve learned in the past year, the creator of the original Fafard 3B mix was involved in the formulation of the Jolly Gardener Pro-line CB mix; creating a lighter, slightly finer, better draining mix reminiscent of the old Fafard 3B from years gone by.

Side by side, there is a noticeable difference in the two mixes consistency; even though the ingredients are essentially the same; a combination of shredded pine bark, peat moss, perlite and vermiculite. So far, I’m hooked on the new Jolly Gardener Pro-line CB mix and hopefully so will our customers!

 

KLEIN’S RECIPES OF THE MONTHThese are a selection of relatively simple recipes chosen by our staff. New recipes appear monthly. Enjoy!!

Jelly beans, Peeps, chocolate bunnies and hard-boiled eggs are standards in nearly all Easter baskets. We’ve all had the experience of making what we thought was the perfect hard-boiled egg, only to find it completely unpeelable in the end. What went wrong?

From The Incredible Egg website (www.incredibleegg.org):

Making hard-boiled eggs is as easy as 1-2-3. Follow these steps on how to hard-boil eggs and get ready for tender whites and golden yellow yolks every time.

  1. Place eggs in saucepan large enough to hold them in single layer. Add cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Heat over high heat just to boiling.
  2. Remove from burner. Cover pan. Let eggs stand in hot water about 12 minutes for large eggs (9 minutes for medium eggs; 15 minutes for extra large).
  3. Drain immediately and serve warm. Or, cool completely under cold running water or in bowl of ice water, then refrigerate.
Insider Tips on How to Hard-Boil Eggs Perfectly
Although the cooking water must come to a full boil in this method, the pan is immediately removed from the heat so that the eggs cook gently in the hot water. This produces tender, not rubbery, eggs and minimizes cracking.

Banish the greenish ring. This harmless but unsightly discoloration that sometimes forms around hard-boiled yolks results from a reaction between sulfur in the egg white and iron in the yolk. It occurs when eggs have been cooked for too long or at too high a temperature. Our tips for hard-boiled eggs – cooking eggs in hot, not boiling, water, then cooling immediately – minimizes this.

Now that you’ve mastered the art of hard-boiled eggs, how do you peel the eggs without making a mess? Very fresh eggs are usually difficult to peel. To ensure easily peeled hard-boiled eggs, buy and refrigerate them 10 days in advance of cooking. This brief “breather” allows the eggs time to take in air, which helps separate the membranes from the shell.

Hard-boiled eggs are easiest to peel right after cooling. Cooling causes the egg to contract slightly in the shell.

To peel a hard-boiled egg: Gently tap egg on countertop until shell is finely crackled all over. Roll egg between hands to loosen shell. Starting peeling at large end, holding egg under cold running water to help ease the shell off.

AVOCADO EGG SALAD
12 large eggs, hardboiled
3 tablespoons of dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of mayo
1 teaspoon of dried basil
2 tablespoons of onion, finely chopped
2 avocados, mashed
salt & pepper to taste

Using a fork, chop up eggs. Add finely diced onion, dijon mustard, mayo, dried basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix to combine. Next add mashed avocados and stir to incorporate. Serve in a pita pocket, over bread, or with a lettuce cup. Serves 6.

CHIPOTLE DEVILED EGGS
12 hardboiled eggs
1/3 c. mayonnaise
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 tbsp. mustard
1-1 1/2 tsp. chipotle in adobo sauce
kosher salt
Chili powder, for dusting
Sliced green onions, for garnish

Halve eggs lengthwise, then spoon out yolks into a small bowl and place whites on a serving platter. Using a fork, mash yolks, then stir in mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, and chipotle in adobo sauce and season with salt. Spoon mixture evenly among egg whites and garnish with chili powder and green onions.

EGG SALAD WITH CAPERS ONION, LEMON AND DILL
¼ c. mayonnaise
½ tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
½ small red onion
2 tbsp. chopped capers
1 tbsp. chopped dill

Chop the eggs. Whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the eggs and mix to combine. Fold in the onion, capers, and dill. Sprinkle with additional dill before serving and serve with the pita chips and baguette, if desired. Yields 1 1/2 cups.

EGG SALAD AND CARAMELIZED ONION SANDWICHES
¼ c. olive oil
4 medium sweet onions
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
12 slice country white bread
12 large hard-boiled eggs
2 celery ribs
½ medium yellow onion
¾ c. mayonnaise
½ head bibb lettuce

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, heat olive oil. Add sweet onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 40 minutes. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring, until onions begin to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes. Stir in vinegar, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are deep brown, about 10 more minutes. Transfer onions to a plate and set aside to cool.

Lightly toast bread. In a large bowl, combine chopped eggs, celery, yellow onion, mustard, and remaining salt. Add mayonnaise and gently stir to mix. Season with pepper to taste.

On each of 6 slices of bread, place a couple of lettuce leaves, then the egg salad and reserved caramelized onions, both divided evenly. Top each with one of the remaining bread slices, and cut each sandwich in half with a serrated knife. Serve immediately. Makes 6 sandwiches.

OLD FASHIONED EGG SALAD
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped celery

In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, onion, salt and pepper. Stir in eggs and celery. Cover and refrigerate. 3 servings.

BRUNCH ENCHILADAS
8 hard-cooked large eggs, chopped
1 can (8-1/4 ounces) cream-style corn
2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
2 teaspoons taco seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 corn tortillas, warmed
1 bottle (8 ounces) mild taco sauce
Sour cream, optional

Combine the first six ingredients; spoon 1/2 cup down the center of each tortilla. Roll up tightly. Place, seam side down, in a greased 13×9-in. baking dish. Top with taco sauce.
Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 15 minutes or until heated through. Serve with sour cream if desired. Yield: 8 servings.

SMOKED SALMON EGG SALAD
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
4 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
6 croissants, split
1-1/2 cups fresh baby spinach

In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Stir in the eggs and salmon. Place 1/3 cup on the bottom of each croissant; top with spinach leaves and replace croissant tops. Yield: 6 servings.

NATURAL NEWS–

Purple Cow Organics® Compost Tea Bags
One of the most common questions we hear is, “what is compost tea and how can I use it?” Making one’s own compost tea, though simple, requires an active compost pile/bin and time. To make things easy, Klein’s carries pre-measured compost tea bags from Purple Cow Organics®.

From the Purple Cow Organics® website @ www.purplecoworganics.com:

What is compost tea?
Compost tea, simply put, is a liquid version of compost. “Why would I want a liquid version of compost?” you might ask. A liquid version of compost is versatile. Composts are solids, and you can only apply solids using gravity to the ground surface. You can mix in with your soil you can mix it with your pots and your potting mixes but that’s really about it.

With compost tea, the goal is to aerobically – or with air – extract the beneficial biology and nutrients that are in your compost into a liquid solution. That liquid solution can be sprayed onto plants or soil, or poured into the soil or the soil drench, or poured around seeds when you’re planting the seeds in the soil. So, it gives you a different way to add those microbes and the nutrition to the growing system.

Compost tea: no need to add more soil to your garden
Another advantage of compost tea – sometimes you don’t want to add more soil to your garden, but you do want to add more fertility or more biology throughout the season.

Compost tea – because it’s in liquid form – allows you to apply that mixture or that solution without adding any more fill to your garden.

You can purchase compost and buy mesh screens, buckets and fish aerators and then make your own compost tea. Fortunately, Purple Cow Organics® has made a Compost Tea product for you that is already in tea bags that is as simple as dropping a tea bag into a watering can – or a couple of them into a five gallon bucket of water – letting it steep overnight, maybe agitating a little bit by stirring it, and then you’ve got your compost tea solution with very little equipment necessary

Each tea bag will make 1 gallon of compost tea, providing essential nutrients to plants along with humic acid and organic matter to soil. Each gallon of compost tea can be applied to up to 250 square feet of garden when using a sprayer, though heavier application rates are better. Perfect for flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables. Ideal for containers, hanging baskets, potted plants, gardens, raised beds and planter boxes. Each package contains 12 compost tea bags.

APRIL’S PLANT OF THE MONTH:

Senetti® Percallis (Cineraria) Hybrids
Senetti® is the brand name given to a completely new collection of pericallis (cineraria) hybrids.The aim of this brand is to put across the fact that this is an entirely new group of varieties obtained by cross-breeding.

The genus pericallis was formerly called Senecio but it has been re-classified in recent years, and they are known for being winter and spring flowering plants. Until recently all material was raised from seed, Senetti® is the first pericallis to come from vegetative cuttings Senetti® has the potential to overtake the seed raised group in terms of volume.

Senetti® is bred by the innovative plant breeding company Suntory® Flowers Ltd, from Japan. Suntory® bred the first vegetatively propagated Trailing Petunia called Surfinia®, Verbena’s Tapien® and Temari®, Viola called Violina® and the very first calibrachoa hybrids to the world’s market place, called Million Bells®.

The secret of Senetti® is that it is the first genuine re-blooming pericallis. It also has better branching, larger blooming and more tolerance to a wide range of temperatures and is easy to cultivate in North America.

Every consumer who buys or receives Senetti® is bound to want this magnificent product in their garden again next year. This has been indicated by consumer research!
In addition to being popular as a pot plant, Senetti® is also emerging as a popular bedding plant best suited to the outdoors in semi shade.

Bloom count can be as high as 200 on a plant grown in a 10-inch pot. Senetti® also has a unique reblooming ability. Cut plants back 50 percent for a fresh flush of blooms. Plants will stop flowering when temperatures are 80 degrees are higher at night during the summer.

Klein’s currently has an amazing assortment of these stunning new cinerarias in shades of true blue, pink and magenta. They make for a wonderful, long-blooming gift.

AROUND TOWN:

For neighborhood events or garden tours that you would like posted in our monthly newsletter, please contact Rick at (608) 244-5661 or [email protected] or Sue at [email protected]. Please include all details, i.e. dates, locations, prices, brief description, etc. Events must be garden related and must take place in the Madison vicinity and we must receive your information by the first of the month in which the event takes place for it to appear in that month’s newsletter. This is a great opportunity for free advertising.

Olbrich Garden’s
Spring Pansy Sale
Saturday, April 1
From 10:00-4:00 while supplies last

Celebrate spring with a cheery pansy, panola, or viola grown in Olbrich’s own greenhouses. Pots of pansies are $6 each, with three plants per pot. Decorative containers are extra. Proceeds benefit Olbrich Botanical Gardens.

Pansies are cool weather plants that do best if planted in the ground. However, they also look great in a container, and make wonderful springtime gifts. Not only decorative, pansies are also edible and add a flash of color to dishes as a garnish. Or, try planting colorful pansies in a container with lettuce – it’s an entire salad in one pot!

Olbrich Botanical Gardens
3330 Atwood Ave., Madison
Olbrich Garden’s
Orchid Sale
Saturday, April 1
From 10:00-4:00 while supplies last

Celebrate spring with a blooming orchid plant. Orchid Growers Guild members will be available to answer questions. Sponsored by the Orchid Growers Guild. A portion of the proceeds benefits Olbrich Gardens. For information call 608-233-5559.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens
3330 Atwood Ave., Madison
Rotary Garden’s Compost Sale
Saturdays in April and May, 8:00-noon

Area garden enthusiasts, once again, will have an opportunity to purchase organic compost at Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville.

The organic blended mushroom compost is sold in 45 lb. (1.5 cu. ft.) bags for $6 per bag. Rotary Botanical Gardens’ Friends Members will receive an additional 10% discount at the sale.

If you would like more information or have questions, please call Mark Dwyer at 608-754-1779 or email: [email protected]rotarybotanicalgardens.org.

Rotary Botanical Gardens
1455 Palmer Dr., Janesville, WI
Spring Symposium
Saturday, April 1, 10:00-4:00 p.m.
University of Wisconsin Arboretum
1207 Seminole Highway, Madison, WI 53711

An exciting and inspirational day is in store as we explore cutting edge horticulture and landscape design. Top-notch speakers, industry leaders, and award-winning authors will present their unique perspectives on garden design, plant selection, and more. Morning refreshments and lunch are included, and authors’ books will be available for purchase.

Any ticket purchase includes the follow up event, “Bringing it Home,” on Saturday, April 8. Bringing it Home features hands-on workshops and design guidance from local experts, helping you apply the big ideas from our panelists to your own back yard.

Allen Centennial Garden
620 Babcock Dr., Madison, WI 53706
2017 Green Thumb Gardening Series
Tuesdays, February 28 thru April 25, 6:30-9:00
Dane County UW-Extension Office, 5201 Fen Oak Dr, Suite 138

The 2017 Green Thumb Gardening Series will give you the practical knowledge to keep your home garden thriving! University of Wisconsin Extension educators, specialists, and local horticulture experts will provide in depth and accessible information for everyone from the novice to the experienced gardener.

April 4 – Wisconsin Wildlife in the Home Garden
David Drake, UW-Madison Wildlife Ecologist, will discuss desirable and non-desirable wildlife in the garden. He will concentrate on pest exclusion and control strategies.

April 6 – Organic Landscape Maintenance (NEW!)
Many people are interested in reducing or eliminating pesticides and inorganic fertilizers in the landscape because of concerns about water quality and potential threats to humans, pets, bees, birds and other wildlife. Join Becky Kielstrup, General Manager and Horticulturalist at Avant Gardening & Landscaping, to learn about organic lawn care, sustainable planting methods, integrated pest management and simple steps and tips on how to begin!

April 11 – Growing Berries (NEW!)
Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and currants oh my! Learn which varieties are best suited for Wisconsin and how to properly care for them for a delicious harvest year after year. Taught by Lisa Johnson, Dane County UW-Extension Horticulture Program.

April 25 – Annuals & Perennials
Learn general techniques for selecting, planting, and caring for annuals and perennials as well as covering some new and recommended varieties. Taught by Lisa Johnson, Dane County UW-Extension Horticulture Program.

Sign up for individual classes at $25.00 each OR the complete class series for $150.00 (Includes a set of handout materials to accompany each class).

Dane County University of Wisconsin-Extension
5201 Fen Oak Dr, Suite 138
Gardening Education at Rotary Gardens: Organic Gardening Techniques for Growing Herbs and Vegetables
Wednesday, April 5, 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Patty Bailey of Oak Village Garden Center will share her “Organic Gardening Techniques for Growing Herbs and Vegetables.” You will learn how to improve your soil, start seeds, plant vegetables, herbs, flowers and more. Patty will also provide some helpful advice on straw bale gardening and pass on her favorite vegetable varieties for containers.

$5 for non-members, $3 for RBG Friends members, no registration required.

Rotary Botanical Gardens
1455 Palmer Dr., Janesville, WI
Create Your Smart Garden Plan
Thursday, April 6, 6:00-8:00
Willy St. Co-op East Community Room

Instructor: Megan Cain
Fee: $25 for Owners; $35 for non-owners

Make this your best year yet by creating a personalized garden plan for growing fresh, organic food right in your own yard. Learn how to strategically decide what to grow by understanding the important details of each vegetable, when to plant a seed or a seedling, how to choose the best varieties for your garden, and how to create a planting schedule so you know when to start planting this spring.

Payment is required at registration; please register by stopping at the Willy East Customer Service desk or by calling (608) 251-6776.

Willy Street Co-op East
1221 Williamson Street
Madison, WI 53703
Introduction to Horticultural Therapy
Thursday, April 6, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
1575 Linden Dr., Madison, WI 53706

Gardeners know the theraputic benefits of working in their garden. Therapeutic, educational, and recreational programs have caught the gardening bug and are increasingly incorporating gardening into their practice. The incorporation of horticultural therapy can improve the experience of participants in garden-based therapy, education, and recreation programs.

In this workshop you will learn about Horticultural Therapy and how to incorporate horticultural therapy principles and practices into new and existing programs and community projects. Participants will role play to practice skills and finish by developing goals and objectives for educational gardening endeavors. The program is taught utilizing a mix of pre-class reading, lecture, discussion, and lots of hands-on activities.

Allen Centennial Garden
620 Babcock Dr., Madison, WI 53706
Midwest Gourd Fest
Saturday, April 8, 9:00-4:00

Learn about gourds, gourd art, and gourd growing. Meet gourd artists, take a class, see demonstrations, and get gourd growing advice. Participate in raffles, silent auctions, and a kid’s corner. Visit www.wisconsingourdsociety.org for more info. To register for classes call 608/445-1410 or email @ [email protected].

Admission and parking are free.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens
3330 Atwood Ave., Madison
Symposium: Bringing It Home
Saturday, April 8, 1:00-4:00 p.m.
1575 Linden Dr., Madison, WI 53706

After an exciting day of exploring big ideas and trends in horticulture and garden design at the Spring Symposium, join local experts to learn practical tips for applying these big ideas to your own garden.

This event is FREE to Spring Symposium attendees with access code. Have questions? Email [email protected] or call (608) 576-2501 for help.

Chose your own adventure, are you looking to rehab an existing garden space or starting a garden from scratch? Pick your section and get an in-depth lesson on how to work with your space.

Allen Centennial Garden
620 Babcock Dr., Madison, WI 53706
Beekeeping for Beginners
Saturday, April 8, 9:00-4:00
Dane County UW-Extension Office, 5201 Fen Oak Dr, Suite 138

You are invited to attend one of our day long ‘Beekeeping Classes’ to be held at the Dane County Extension Building. Beginners Classes will repeat on Apr 8 and May 6, 2017. The fee of $50 covers coffee, handouts, free sample journals & catalogues, and props galore for you to handle. Individual, hands­-on Mentoring is also available, $20 for 2 hours in the apiary. To register, contact Jeanne Hansen at 608­/244-­5094 or [email protected].

Dane County University of Wisconsin-Extension
5201 Fen Oak Dr, Suite 138
Rotary Garden’s Pansy Sale
Saturdays, April 15, April 22 & April 29, 8:00-noon
At the Garden’s Horticulture Center

4-packs, planters and hanging baskets are available—all while supplies last. Rotary Botanical Gardens’ Friends Members will receive an additional 10% discount at the sale.

If you would like more information or have questions, please call Mark Dwyer at 608-754-1779 or email: [email protected]rotarybotanicalgardens.org.

Rotary Botanical Gardens
1455 Palmer Dr., Janesville, WI
Woodland Wildflowers
Sunday, April 23, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Walk from the Visitor Center

If this is a typical spring, we may find bloodroot, wild ginger, Virginia bluebells, and Dutchman’s breeches (among other delights) along the trails of our restored woodlands.

University of WI Arboretum
1207 Seminole Hwy.
Madison, WI 53711
Birds in the Garden
Sunday, April 23, 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Walk from the Visitor Center

Celebrate Earth Day (April 22) by taking a walk in our gardens and learning about the birds that make their homes here. Naturalist-led hike from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., indoor activities from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Free, no registration required.

University of WI Arboretum
1207 Seminole Hwy.
Madison, WI 53711
Rotary Garden’s Evening Garden Seminar: Japanese Garden Design
Wednesday, April 26, 6:30-8:00 p.m

Tim Gruner, Garden Curator of Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, Illinois, will present the lecture “Japanese Garden Design.” Learn about the guiding principles of Japanese garden design, including patterns found in nature and the human connection to the landscape. The general pattern formed by trees growing along streams and on slopes, the nature of a stream meandering and cascading down a mountain or winding through a gentle meadow, the gradual transition of the seasons marked by ephemeral blooms, humanities integration with nature, among many other things, all inform the designer of a Japanese garden.

Rotary Botanical Gardens
1455 Palmer Drive
Janesville, WI
Magnolias
Saturday, April 29, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
In the Longenecker Gardens

See, smell, and learn about the gardens’ extensive magnolia collection, and other spring flowering plants encountered along the way, with Michael Jesiolowski, Chicago Botanic Garden senior horticulturist. Free, no registration required. Meet at the Visitor Center.

University of WI Arboretum
1207 Seminole Hwy.
Madison, WI 53711
More Woodland Wildflowers
Sunday, April 30, 1:00 pm –2:30 pm
From the Visitor Center

Every spring unfolds a little differently, but the wildflower blooming sequence follows a predictable pattern. We’re likely to see trillium, bellworts, and trout-lily as we hike our woodland trails. Free, no registration required.

University of WI Arboretum
1207 Seminole Hwy.
Madison, WI 53711
Dane County Winter Farmer’s Market
Saturdays, January 7 thru April 7, 8:00-noon
Madison Senior Center
330 W. Mifflin

For details visit www.dcfm.org
Dane County Farmer’s Market
Saturdays, April 15 thru November 11, 6:00-1:45
On the Capitol Square

Wednesdays, April 19 thru November 8, 8:30-1:45
In the 200 block of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

For details visit www.dcfm.org

APRIL IN THE GARDENA checklist of things to do this month.
___Continue bringing out your cooled forced bulbs for indoor enjoyment.
___Early in the month, pot up cannas and dahlias for early growth.
___Begin removing, cleaning and storing winter bird feeders.
___Begin your summer bird feeding regimen.
___Keep birdbaths full and clean.
___Repair and put out birdhouses. Put out nesting material like pet hair & fibers.
___Seed starting is in full swing and even winding down by the end of April.
___Sterilize seed starting equipment and pots with a 1:16 bleach solution.
___Shop for summer bulbs like gladiolas, lilies and dahlias.
___Prune late summer and fall blooming shrubs.
___Do not prune spring blooming shrubs like lilacs, forsythia or viburnum.
___Continue bringing in branches for forcing: pussy willow, forsythia, quince, etc.
___Increase fertilizer to full strength by month’s end (houseplants).
___Ready the lawn mower if you haven’t done so already.
___Start weeding your beds. It’s easier while weeds are small & the soil moist.
___Remove all winter mulch from beds.
___Remove the soil mound from around roses and mums.
___Lay soaker hoses in beds. It’s easy now without plants in the way.
___Cut back all remaining perennials and ornamental grasses left from fall.
___Begin sowing seeds of larkspur, poppies and hardy annuals in the garden.
___Plant pansies, violas and calendula into the garden and containers.
___Harden off your seedlings and wintered over potted geraniums.
___Repair lawns by sowing grass seed. Rake the lawn.
___Move cole crop transplants to the garden; broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage, etc.
___Plant onion sets and early spring crops like lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets
___Begin planting perennials. Plant shrubs and trees.
___Visit Klein’s—the showrooms are filled with spring annuals.
Some of our very favorite seed and plant sources include:

For seeds:
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds @ www.rareseeds.com or 417/924-8887
Johnny’s Select Seeds @ www.johnnyseeds.com or 207/861-3901
Jung’s Seeds @ www.jungseed.com or 800/247-5864
Park’s Seeds @ www.parkseed.com or 800/845-3369
Seeds of Change @ www.seedsofchange.com or 888/762-7333
Territorial Seeds @ www.territorialseed.com or 888/657-3131
Thompson & Morgan @ www.thompson-morgan.com or 800/274-7333

For bulbs:
Brent & Becky’s Bulbs @ www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com or 877/661-2852
John Scheeper’s @ www.johnscheepers.com or 860/567-0838
McClure & Zimmerman @ www.mzbulb.com or 800/883-6998

For plants:
High Country Gardens @ www.highcountrygardens.com or 800/925-9387
Logee’s Greenhouses @ www.logees.com or 888/330-8038
Plant Delights Nursery @ www.plantdelights.com or 912/772-4794
Roots and Rhizomes @ www.rootsrhizomes.com or 800/374-5035
White Flower Farm @ www.whiteflowerfarm.com or 800/503-9624

Note: To receive every possible seed, plant or garden supply catalog imaginable, check out Cyndi’s Catalog of Garden Catalogs @ www.gardenlist.com. Most catalogs are free and make for great winter reading!

A SEED STARTING PRIMER–
Starting your own plants from seed can be both rewarding and frustrating for the beginning gardener. From experience, it’s best to start out slow. This eliminates some of the frustration. Experience will gain you knowledge and confidence. Before starting your seeds, read the packet and get a little basic information. Some seeds are best sown directly in the garden come spring and not started indoors. It’s best to do a little research by going on-line or purchasing a good gardening book. The packets themselves will usually tell you whether to direct sow in the garden or how many weeks before our last frost date to sow indoors. Our last frost date is about May 10. Using a calendar, count back from May 10 and this will be your sow date.

One can start seeds on any sunny windowsill and in almost any container. Warmth and moisture are critical in getting most seeds to germinate. But a few pieces of basic and inexpensive equipment purchased at your garden center and/or hardware store will help you get started and make your seed starting experience a great success. Here is a shopping list:

*A heating mat–makes seeds germinate quickly and uniformly
*A few 10×20” trays without holes
*A few clear humidity domes
*A sterile seed starting mix
*A 4’ shop lamp w/ 2 fluorescent bulbs (you don’t need “gro-lights”)
or a seed growing rack if you’d like to make an investment
*A few 10×20” trays with holes
*A few sheets of empty cell packs, e.g. 4-packs or 6-packs
*A water mister
*A timer
*A soilless potting mix
All of the above items, except the timer, are available at Klein’s.

Again, following package instructions, sow the seeds, as many as you want, in a very shallow, open container, filled with moistened seed starting mix. This container can be anything from very low or cut off dairy containers to disposable food storage containers. Per package instructions, cover or don’t cover the seed. Some seeds require light for germination. Next place your seeded containers in a tray without holes, mist them till well watered and cover with a humidity dome. Place your covered tray on the plugged in heating mat under the shop light. Set your timer so the shop light is on for 13 hours (off for 11 hours).

In a few days, as your seeds begin to sprout, remove them from under the humidity dome and place in a well-lit, warm location. Keep your seeds and seedlings moist. Different seeds sprout at different rates so this can take from a few days to a few weeks. Once all your seeds have germinated, unplug your heating mat. You can now move all of your seedlings to under the shop light still set at 13 hours.

Once your seedlings have 2 sets of “real” leaves it’s time to “prick them out” (transplant them). Do this by placing a sheet of empty cell packs in a tray with holes. The holes now become necessary for proper drainage. Fill the cells with soilless potting mix and moisten well with the mister. Using a pen or pencil “dibble” a hole into each of the cells. This is where you’ll now place your seedling. Remove the seed starting mix and seedlings as a clump from their starting containers. Gently break apart this root ball, separating your seedlings. The pen or pencil will come in handy as an added tool to help separate the seedlings. Carefully place one seedling in each of the holes you put in the prepped cells. Gently firm in with your finger tips. Mist well to water thoroughly and place in a warm, well lit area. Using your shop light again makes this easy. The seedlings may seem weak and somewhat abused, but they’re very resilient and will pop back quickly. When watering, fertilize your new plants with a very dilute solution, rather than at full rate. By May 10 your flowers and vegetables should be ready to put in your garden and you can say that you did it yourself–beginning to end.

BEHIND THE SCENES AT KLEIN’SThis is a sneak peek of what is going on each month behind the scenes in our greenhouses. Many people are unaware that our facility operates year round or that we have 10 more greenhouses on the property in addition to the 6 open for retail. At any given moment we already have a jump on the upcoming season–be it poinsettias in July, geraniums in December or fall mums in May.

IN APRIL:
—Transplanting is in full swing on the transplanting line in our back greenhouses.
Employees work 8-10 hour shifts planting thousands of plugs and tiny seedlings into the cell packs you purchase in the spring. Once planted, the flats move by conveyor and then monorail into the various greenhouses, all kept at different temperatures depending on the plant.

—The greenhouses and showrooms are filling fast with thousands of hanging
and potted plants. We’re constantly moving product around, trying to make the best use of our limited space.

—Retail items are arriving nonstop for unpacking and pricing, everything from
garden ornaments and pottery to pesticides and fertilizers.

—Employees are readying the thousands of lilies, hydrangeas, azaleas, mums and spring bulbs that we deliver to the many area churches each Easter. We look forward to this time when the greenhouses are emptied to make room for our spring crops.

—Product is moved from the warmth of the greenhouses to the outdoors for the hardening off process. Plants are pinched back and moved outside so they can be acclimated for spring planting in your garden. Plants that have not been properly acclimated can find the transition to full sun and temperature extremes quite difficult. You’ve probably noticed that many garden centers do not harden off their plants properly. Symptoms include leaf burn and root rot.

—We’re readying the showrooms for the spring onslaught. Tables become fully stocked. Spring info and price signs are put into place. The last week of April is an amazing time to visit Klein’s. The showrooms are jam-packed, bursting with color, awaiting the spring rush which usually begins about May 1.