Gardening Jobs in March

Gardening Jobs in March

seeds and Gardening Jobs in March

March is the busy season in the garden. As soon as the sun comes out, and it is warm (and dry) enough to be outside, every gardener itches to get their hands into the dirt again. But where to start?

Preparing the vegetable beds

Once the ground is no longer frozen, nor too wet, you can start preparing the beds.

Remove the weeds early on (especially perennial or biennial ones), which will make it less troublesome to keep on top of the weeding later on in the season.

If you haven’t done it yet, continue deadheading and clearing the garden, but beware that butterflies often overwinter on the old stalks of nettles and such (nettles support some 40 species of insects and butterflies!) Fresh, young nettles also make a wonderful early wild vegetable, so unless they are really in your way or growing in the vegetable beds, maybe consider leaving them standing. You might find them quite useful!

Dig in plenty of good homegrown compost into the vegetable plots and prepare the soil to get a fine crumb. This will make it easy for your seedlings to break through the crust.

What to sow in March

What you can sow in March will largely depend on your growing zone. In milder climes, it is possible to sow hardier, early veggies out in the open in March. More frost-sensitive plants do best when grown under cover, or in the cold frame. In colder your growing zone the more important it is to start your seeds indoors early, on the window sill. That way, they will get a bit of a boost. They will have developed into little plants that are more resilient than seedlings by the time you will plant them out. And their growing season is that much longer. For warmth-loving plants like tomatoes and zucchinis, early indoor cultivation is a must. Sow them about 4-6 weeks before the last expected frost.

Outdoors

Onion sets can be planted out in March. Other hardy veggies that can be sown directly into the well-prepared beds from mid-March include beetroots, Swiss chard and lettuce, (also Asian lettuce) and peas as well as rocket, radishes, and nasturtiums. By the end of March/beginning of April, the soil should be warm enough to plant out Jerusalem artichokes.

Indoors or under cover

You can sow tomatoes, peppers and fennel, broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage (early varieties), Savoy cabbage, Malabar spinach (late March), New Zealand spinach, carrots, autumn leeks, and celery either in the cold frame or indoors. Tomatoes, fennel and pepper are always best started indoors in an environment of about 20°C.

Make sure to open up the cold frame on sunny days so it does not get too hot under the glass. The plants need air and the untimely heat would promote early bolting (or withering).

Whatever you do, make sure your seedlings don’t dry out once you have sown them. Water is their life-blood. They cannot grow without it.

Bulbs and Perennials

March is the perfect time to plant summer flowering bulbs such as irises or dahlias, as well as summer and autumn flowering perennials.

Happy Gardening!

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Sugar Maple – A Sweet Miracle

Sugar Maple – A Sweet Miracle

Sugar Maple is an iconic tree of the northeastern parts of the US. In the fall, when its foliage turns bright orange and red, thousands of people come from far away just to dee this fabulous color display. But that is just one facet of this beautiful tree with its rich and varied history.

Botany

Sugar Maple is a stately tree of the Acer family. It can reach a height of up to 130 feet. Its growth rate is relatively slow, however. A mature tree can reach an age of about 200 years. In the southern range of its distribution, it associates with Oaks, while in northern and northeastern regions, it grows among birch and beech woods.

Habitat and Distribution

The Maple Tree family is widely distributed throughout the world. Altogether, there are almost 200 different species and about half of them occur in the northern hemisphere. Most of them are indigenous to central and eastern parts of Asia but some are indigenous to Europe and the Mediterranean. About 13 species, including the Sugar Maple, are indigenous to North America.

Its distribution ranges from southern Canada down to Arkansas, Tennessee, and the southern Appalachian Mountains. Sugar Maple is the dominant and most conspicuous tree of the eastern forests famous for its showy display of brilliant red, orange, and yellow autumn foliage.

Ecology

In the woodland ecology of the northeastern forests, Sugar Maple plays a key role. It provides nourishment for various species including the white-tailed deer and plays host to a number of insects.

Environmental factors are the main threat to the Maple population. The growth of mature trees is decreasing and ‘infant mortality’ among saplings is increasing, due to acid rain. Because of their shallow but extensive root systems Maple trees are especially susceptible to surface soil pollution. Global warming also poses a threat.

Pigmentation

The striking coloration is due to the breakdown and dispersal of chlorophyll, which reveals other pigments such as carotenes, tannins, and anthocyanin, which react differently depending on the pH level of the soil.

colourful maple leaves

History

Sugar Maple’s distinctive palmate leaf has gained world fame as the national emblem of the Canadian flag. It has served as the state tree of four US states (New York, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin).

Economically, Sugar Maple is one of the most valuable hardwood trees of the northeastern forests of the US. Its wood has a fine grain and is lighter, yet stronger than that of White Oak, making it useful for the manufacture of many household items such as rolling pins, cutting boards, ladles, and spoons. Carpenters, woodturners, and instrument makers value its beautiful close grain. As a durable hardwood, it has also been used for floor boarding and skirting-boards, etc.

But Sugar Maple is one of the few trees whose most important economical role is not the value of its timber, but the yield of its sweet-tasting sap.

Maple Sugar and Maple Syrup

European settlers first learned about this sap and the technique for tapping it from First Nation Natives, who had been using it as one of their most important food sources for as long as anybody could remember.

Yield

When the snow starts to thaw and life returns to the woodlands, the tree sap begins to rise. Sugar Maple produces copious amounts of sap, which contains about 3% of sugar (on average). To produce 1 gallon of strong-flavored maple syrup requires 30 -4 0 gallons of sap. The sap is boiled down to evaporate the water and thus concentrate the sugar content. The ideal density of 66. 5%. sugar. At higher concentrations, the syrup begins to crystallize while at lower concentrations it can easily spoil.

An average tree yields about 12 gallons of sap per season, which can be turned into 3 pounds of sugar. Large trees (at least 25 – 30 inches in diameter) can sustain 2 or 3 taps. Younger trees with a diameter of 10-12 inches (at about 65 years of age) only sustain one tap.

Maple sugar is now produced on a commercial scale.  Enormous amounts of sap are tapped for local as well as for international consumption. Vermont is the largest producer in the US today, followed by New York and Maine. However, Canada is the largest producer worldwide, covering about 75% of the international demand. Other species of Maple also contain sweet sap and can be used to obtain syrup, although Sugar Maple is by far the most productive.

Traditional sugar camps

Maple Sap TapNative Americans set up semi-permanent sugar camps in the forests to which they traveled for the annual ‘sugaring season’ (from about mid-February to early April). The camps usually consisted of two structures: a small birch-bark-covered lodge where the utensils were stored and the sugaring lodge, which also served as a temporary living space.

Every year, before sugaring could commence, the sugar-making lodge had to be freshly restored and repaired. The lodge consisted of one or two platforms set up along the inside walls, while the middle was kept as the cooking space.

Each camp harvested between 900 – 1500 taps. To set up a tap requires a diagonal 4″ incision to be cut into the tree at about 3 ft above the ground. Perpendicular to the cut the bark was removed for another 4 inches and a 6×2” wooden spout, usually made of Slippery Elm was inserted below. Beneath the spout, a birch-bark vessel was positioned to collect the sap.

Sugaring-off

The taps had to be checked regularly. Once the container was full, their contents were transferred to a larger pot which was placed near the edge of the fire and slowly heated. This process, known as ‘sugaring off’ was a delicate affair requiring great care. It was done at low heat so as to avoid excessive frothing and bubbling.

Birch bark containerBefore there were kettles, pots, and pans made of metal, the Native Americans used birch bark containers and vats made from moose skins. To heat the syrup, they would place red hot stones into these containers filled with the syrup. These were then cooled in the snow. Once the water had frozen into a sheet of ice, it was simply discarded.

The fire was kept going all night and people took turns to watch over it and to attend to the sap, cooling it and reheating the syrup, all the while stirring it with ladles made of maple wood.

When the syrup reached the right consistency, it was strained through a basswood mat, or through a well-worn linen cloth. For the final sugaring-off, all the equipment was carefully cleaned and scoured. The syrup was reheated once more and some bear grease or deer tallow was added to render the sugar softer and less brittle. Gradually, the the mass thickened and stirring it with the maple wood paddle was getting harder. As soon as it reached just the right consistency, it had to be crushed quickly so as to pulverize it. If cooled beyond a certain point the sugar solidifies crushing it becomes much harder.

The settlers soon learned the technique and adapted it to their equipment. Although the tools have changed, the process is essentially the same except for some small modifications that have simplified the procedure.

For Native Americans and for some of the small family producers ‘sugaring off’ was not just a commercial endeavor. It was a cultural event, an integral and important part of the annual cycle, and a joyous, festive time that heralds the coming of spring.

maple sugar sweets

Other Maple delicacies

Some of the thick syrup was used to make special delicacies. It was poured into fancy shapes which solidified as they cooled down. Another special treat was known as ‘gum sugar, which nowadays is known as maple taffy. To make this sticky stuff, the syrup was poured onto the snow, where it quickly hardened. It was then scooped up and portioned into small packets wrapped in birchbark.

Sometimes it is poured onto vanilla ice cream. Once it hardens, it can be picked up with a spoon or stick to be eaten like a lollipop. The settlers added their own variations to the range of Maple products. Among them, is a thick spread known as maple butter, maple vinegar (which by all accounts appears not to have been too tasty, but is said to improve with the addition of whiskey), maple beer, and maple punch.

Maple SyrupComposition of Pure Maple Syrup:

The flavor, abundance, and exact composition of sap depend on environmental factors such as the weather and the pH level of the soil. Little snow and deep frost during the early part of winter, followed by heavy snow, were said to produce the best harvest. Rain changes the flavor of the sugar and thunderstorms are thought to ruin it.

In contrast to white sugar, maple syrup and maple sugar are highly nutritious.

Carbohydrates (%):

  • Sucrose 62.65
  • Hexose (glucose, fructose) 0.5 – 3
  • Other trace sugars

Organic acids (%)

  • Malic 0.090
  • Citric 0.009
  • Succinic 0.007
  • Fumaric 0.004
  • Amino acids (%):
  • Phenols 300-960
  • Amino nitrogens 30-190

Minerals (PPM)

  • Potassium 1500-2200
  • Calcium 400-1000
  • Magnesium 100-300
  • Phosphorus 50-125
  • Manganese 5-80
  • Zinc 5-50
  • Sodium 1-25
  • Iron 1-15
  • Tin 0-25
  • Copper 0-2

Vitamins (micrograms/liter)

  • Niacin (PP) 276
  • Pantothenic Acid (B5) 600
  • Riboflavin (B2) 60
  • Folic Acid Traces
  • Pyridoxine Traces
  • Biotin Traces
  • Vitamin A Traces

 

Ethnobotanical uses

Native Americans also used Sugar Maple medicinally. Particularly the Iroquois medical tradition made ample use of it. It is included in compound medicines to purify the blood, while a compound infusion of the bark was used as eye drops to treat blindness. They also used the leaves to prepare a decoction that was used as a wash to treat the affected parts of a skin condition known as the “Italian itch”.

Forest runners would take an infusion of the bark together with another plant for shortness of breath, while the inner bark was used as cough medicine. The dried and ground inner bark was sometimes used as flour substitute. A purple dye was obtained from the rotten wood but it was rare, as the wood is quite rot-resistant.

Maple autumn foliage

Potash

The white settlers soon found it more profitable and less bothersome to turn their stands of Maple trees to ash which could be turned into economically valuable potash. Maple wood yields a relatively large amount of ash (4% compared to only 1% of Douglas Fir). During the 18th and 19th centuries, potash was a valued raw material destined for export to England. It was destined for the British textile industry, where it served as a vital ingredient in the processes of making soap, glass, and gunpowder.

In 1751, Britain even passed an act in Parliament ‘to encourage the making of Pott Ashes and Pearl Ashes in the British Plantations in America’. An acre of woodland could be reduced to 2 tons of potash – with a tidy profit for the farmers. Sometimes, however, it was their only significant source of income: in 1800 a ton of potash demanded a price of $200 – $300. Eventually, Thomas Jefferson stopped all exports of any goods including Potash as a reprisal against the search and seizure of American ships by France and Britain – with the result that illegal export (i.e. smuggling) became even more lucrative.

Recipes

 

Maple Gingerbread

Ingredients:

  • 2- cups flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons powdered ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter

Method

Sift together flour, soda, ginger, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg vigorously, and then stir in the maple syrup, sour cream, and butter. Mix cream and butter. Combine the flour with the other dry ingredients and then stir into the egg mixture. Pour into a greased flat pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350°F, or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Maple frosting is a tasty option.

Maple Wine

From “Valuable Secrets”, 1809

“Boil 4, 5, or 6 gallons of sap according to its strength into one and add yeast according to the quantity you make. After it is fermented, set it aside in a cool place well stopped. If kept for two years, it will become a pleasant and round wine.”

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s day! Time to spread some loving!

One of the nicest things about February is not just the fact that March is around the corner and therefore spring is on its way, but that the inner tide is turning, too. Just as the sap is rising in trees, the love juices are also flowing within. It is a time to indulge in courtship and romance, to lavish buckets of romantic gooeyness on your significant other, rekindle an old flame, or perhaps to make an impression on someone that only recently caught your eye.

Who is St. Valentine?

February 14th is Valentine’s Day, a somewhat questionable Saints Day, which has its origin in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, a festival of licentiousness. At first, denounced as a lewd pagan rite, it proved too popular to be suppressed. Thus, the old festival of love was dressed in a thin cloak of Christian piety and became the saint’s day of St. Valentine.

This Valentine was a fictitious figure who was said to have been executed just as his beloved received his ‘billet of love’ (a kind of little love letter, which has its modern-day equivalent in the custom of sending Valentine’s cards). This custom was also associated with the Roman festival of Lupercalia.

February – the month of Juno Februata

Incidentally, the word ‘February’ is derived from the name of the Goddess ‘Juno Februata’, to whom this month is dedicated. Her name contains the word ‘febris’ – meaning ‘fever’, which does not refer to a kind of divine flu, but to her fiery passion – the fever of love.

To this day, Valentine’s Day is celebrated as ‘lover’s day’. Here is a look at some of those age-old customs and their underlying significance and some suggestions as to how to stoke the fire of love.

say it with flowers

Say it with flowers

Flowers are still THE most popular Valentine’s gift, but which ones should you choose? Maybe draw some inspiration from the Victorian flower language, a secret lovers’ code that could be used to express very specific kinds of messages, so long as both parties were ‘in’ on the symbolism. If they were not, the message would either be lost or interpreted entirely the wrong way. Seen in this light, even Roses are not a safe bet. It all depends on the specific variety and color you choose. Thus, instead of conveying a message of love, it could mean something like ‘you are a pretty ditz’, or ‘you might be charming, but proud’, and ‘your beauty will not last’. To learn more, see this long list of flowers and their specific meanings, before risking a disastrous mistake!

Chocolate – always desirable

chocolate loveIt might be safer to ‘say it with chocolates’ instead. Chocolate is the other most popular Valentine’s gift. Although perhaps a little less romantic, it might be more enticing and less ambiguous. After all, Cocoa’s reputation as an aphrodisiac dates back to the ancient Aztecs.

Montezuma, the last Aztec emperor, was a veritable cocoa fiend! He regularly downed his golden goblet full of foaming ‘xocoatl’ (=chocolate) brew, to invigorate himself before entering his harem.

Few of us today would find his recipe very tempting as it has little resemblance with our modern idea of what chocolate should taste like. But, it seems to have worked for him.

Incidentally, modern research confirms the ancient claim. Apparently, Cocoa contains a substance that has appropriately been called ‘Anandamide’ – alluding to the Sanskrit word ‘ananda’, which means ‘bliss’. Anandamide has anti-depressant properties that induce a sense of well-being and contentment. Cocoa is also rich in Phenylethylamine, which neurochemistry links to the feeling of euphoria so characteristic of the mental state of ‘being in love’. No wonder everybody LOVES chocolate!

A loving spoonful?

Peter's Chili‘Love goes through the stomach’, so they say. Those who find chocolates and flowers too ordinary might instead seek to impress their loved one with a particularly sexy dish, prepared with love, of course.

On scouring the literature one cannot help but be in awe at the amount of foodstuff deemed to have aphrodisiacs properties. Some of these appear to have gained that reputation on account of their appearance (who says placebos don’t work?), while others have a rather more direct, physiological effect.

In the category of visual aids are things like carrots, parsnips, asparagus, and bananas.

Things like piñon nuts, lady’s fingers, truffle mushrooms, oysters, and pufferfish, on the other hand, would hardly qualify if optics was the only criteria. Various spices, as well as certain herbs, have also long held on to their aphrodisiac reputation. Their volatile oil components are highly stimulating. Among these herbs are lovage, cardamom, saffron, and cinnamon. Garlic and chilies are in a category of their own. While not exactly seductive, they undoubtedly pack a punch. None fits both categories better than the gloriously endowed ‘Peter Chili’ – I mean, really, Mother Nature – was that meant to be a subtle hint?

Drinks

ChampaignContrary to popular belief, alcohol is not a suitable aphrodisiac. In fact, it is probably the worst thing you could drink if love is on your mind. While a little alcohol undoubtedly reduces inhibitions, too much of it has a desensitizing effect and is most likely to put you to sleep.

A non-alcoholic cocktail is a great, nutritious alternative that provides an energy boost and is very tasty, too.

Or, try a chai tea. This exquisite, richly flavored blend combines a whole range of warming aphrodisiac spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom pods, and black pepper with black tea, milk, and honey.

Victorian Flower Language

Victorian Flower Language

The Victorian flower language, also known as ‘floriography’, was a secret floral code by means of which lovers could exchange messages without the embarrassment of having to indiscreetly ask or tell someone the nature of one’s true heart’s desire. For this purpose, Victorians carried little floral bouquets called ‘tussie-mussies’. But, the meaning of each flower was not universal, and thus, could be confusing at times. Floral dictionaries were published to facilitate this silent form of communication. The craze spread far beyond Victorian England and spread throughout Continental Europe and the US.

Reprinted from:

Collier’s Cyclopedia of Commercial and Social Information and Treasury of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge,

compiled by Nugent Robinson. P.F. Collier, 1882

Abatina

Fickleness

Acacia

Friendship

Acacia, Rose or White

Elegance

Acacia, Yellow

Secret love

Acanthus

The fine arts, Artifice

Acalia

Temperance

Achillea Millefolia

War

Aconite (Wolfsbane)

Misanthropy

Aconite, Crowfoot

Luster

Adonis, Flos

Painful recollections

African Marigold

Vulgar minds

Agnus Castus

Coldness, Indifference

Agrimony

Thankfulness, Gratitude

Almond (Common)

Stupidity, Indiscretion

Almond (Flowering)

Hope

Almond, Laurel

Perfidy

Allspice

Compassion

Aloe

Grief, Religious superstition

Althaea Frutex (Syrian Mallow)

Persuasion

Alyssum (Sweet)

Worth beyond beauty,

Amaranth (Globe)

Immortality, Unfading love,

Amaranth (Cockscomb)

Foppery, Affectation,

Amaryllis

Pride, Timidity, Splendid beauty

Ambrosia

Love returned

Cowslip

Divine beauty

Starwort

Welcome to a stranger, Cheerfulness in old age

Anemone (Garden)

Forsaken

Angelica

Inspiration

Apple

Temptation

Apple (Blossom)

Preference, Fame speaks him great and good

Apple, Thorn

Deceitful charms

Apocynum (Dog’s Vane)

Deceit

Arbor Vitae

Unchanging friendship, Live for me

Arum (Wake Robin)

Ardor

Ash-leaved Trumpet Flower

Separation

Ash Tree

Grandeur

Aspen Tree

Lamentation

Aster (China)

Variety, Afterthought

Asphodel

My regrets follow you to the grave

Auricula

Painting

Auricula, Scarlet

Avarice

Austurtium

Splendor

Azalea

Temperance

Bachelor’s Buttons

Celibacy

Balm

Sympathy

Balm, Gentle

Pleasantry

Balm of Gilead

Cure Relief

Balsam, Red

Touch me not, Impatient resolves

Balsam, Yellow

Impatience

Barberry

Sourness of temper

Barberry Tree

Sharpness

Basil

Hatred

Bay Leaf

I change but in death

Bay (Rose) Rhododendron

Danger Beware

Bay Tree

Glory

Bay Wreath

Reward of merit

Bearded Crepis

Protection

Beech Tree

Prosperity

Bee Orchis

Industry

Bee Ophrys

Error

Belladonna

Silence

Bell Flower, Pyramidal

Constancy

Bell Flower (small white)

Gratitude

Belvedere

I declare against you

Betony

Surprise

Bilberry

Treachery

Bindweed, Great

Insinuation

Bindweed, Small

Humility

Birch

Meekness

Birdsfoot, Trefoil

Revenge

Bittersweet; Nightshade

Truth

Black Poplar

Courage

Blackthorn

Difficulty

Bladder Nut Tree

Frivolity, Amusement

Bluebottle (Century)

Delicacy

Bluebell

Constancy

Blue-flowered Greek Valerian

Rupture

Bonus Henricus

Goodness

Borage

Bluntness

Box Tree

Stoicism

Bramble

Lowliness, Envy, Remorse

Branch of Currants

You please all

Branch of Thorns

Severity, Rigor

Bridal Rose

Happy love

Broom

Humility

Buckbean

Calm repose

Bud of White Rose

Heart ignorant of love

Bugloss

Falsehood

Bulrush

Indiscretion, Docility

Bundle of Reeds, with their Panicles

Music

Burdock

Importunity, Touch me not

Buttercup (Kingcup)

Ingratitude, Childishness

Butterfly Orchis

Gaiety

Butterfly Weed

Let me go

Cabbage

Profit

Cacalia

Adulation

Cactus

Warmth

Calla Aethiopica

Magnificent beauty

Calycanthus

Benevolence

Camellia Japonica, Red

Unpretending excellence

Camellia Japonica, White

Perfected loveliness

Camomile

Energy in adversity

Canary Grass

Perseverance

Candytuft

Indifference

Canterbury Bell

Acknowledgment

Cape Jasmine

I’m too happy

Cardamine

Paternal error

Carnation, Deep Red

Alas! for my poor heart

Carnation, Striped

Refusal

Carnation, Yellow

Disdain

Cardinal Flower

Distinction

Catchfly

Snare

Catchfly, Red

Youthful love

Catchfly, White

Betrayed

Cedar

Strength

Cedar of Lebanon

Incorruptible

Cedar Leaf

I live for thee

Celandine (Lesser)

Joys to come

Century

Delicacy

Cereus (Creeping)

Modest genius

Champignon

Suspicion

Chequered Fritillary

Persecution

Cherry Tree

Good education

Cherry Tree, White

Deception

Chestnut Tree

Do me justice, Luxury

Chickweed

Rendezvous

Chicory

Frugality

China Aster

Variety

China Aster, Double

I partake your sentiments

China Aster, Single

I will think of it

China or Indian Pink

Aversion

China Rose

Beauty always new

Chinese Chrysanthemum

Cheerfulness under adversity

Christmas Rose

Relieve my anxiety

Chrysanthemum, Red

I love

Chrysanthemum, White

Truth

Chrysanthemum, Yellow

Slighted love

Cinquefoil

Maternal affection

Circaea

Spell

Cistus, or Rock Rose

Popular favor

Cistus, Gum

I shall die tomorrow

Citron

Ill-natured beauty

Clematis

Mental beauty

Clematis, Evergreen

Poverty

Clotbur

Rudeness Pertinacity

Cloves

Dignity

Clover, Four-leaved

Be mine

Clover, Red

Industry

Clover, White

Think of me

Cobaea

Gossip

Cockscomb Amaranth

Foppery, Affectation, Singularity

Colchicum, or Meadow Saffron

My best days are past

Coltsfoot

Justice shall be done

Columbine

Folly

Columbine, Purple

Resolved to win

Columbine, Red

Anxious and trembling

Convolvulus

Bonds

Convolvulus, Blue (Minor)

Repose, Night

Convolvulus, Major

Extinguished hopes

Convolvulus, Pink

Worth sustained by judicious and tender affection

Corchorus

Impatient of absence

Coreopsis

Always cheerful

Coreopsis Arkansa

Love at first sight

Coriander

Hidden worth

Corn

Riches

Corn, Broken

Quarrel

Corn Straw

Agreement

Corn Bottle

Delicacy

Corn Cockle

Gentility

Cornel Tree

Duration

Coronella

Success crown your wishes

Cowslip

Pensiveness Winning grace

Cowslip, American

Divine beauty You are my divinity

Cranberry

Cure for heartache

Creeping Cereus

Horror

Cress

Stability, Power

Crocus

Abuse not

Crocus, Spring

Youthful, gladness

Crocus, Saffron

Mirth

Crown Imperial

Majesty, Power

Crowsbill

Envy

Crowfoot

Ingratitude

Crowfoot (Aconite-leaved)

Luster

Cocoa Plant

Ardor

Cudweed, American

Unceasing remembrance

Currant

Thy frown will kill me

Cuscuta

Meanness

Cyclamen

Diffidence

Cypress

Death, Mourning

Daffodil

Regard

Dahlia

Instability

Daisy

Innocence

Daisy, Garden

I share your sentiments

Daisy, Michaelmas

Farewell

Daisy, Party-colored

Beauty

Daisy, Wild

I will think of it

Damask Rose

Brilliant complexion

Dandelion

Rustic oracle

Daphne, Odora

Painting the lily

Darnel (Ray grass)

Vice

Dead Leaves

Sadness

Dew Plant

A serenade

Dittany of Crete

Birth

Dittany of Crete, White

Passion

Dock

Patience

Dodder of Thyme

Baseness

Dogsbane

Deceit, Falsehood

Dogwood

Durability

Dragon Plant

Snare

Dried Flax

Utility

Ebony Tree

Blackness

Eglantine (Sweetbrier)

Poetry, I wound to heal

Elder

Zealousness

Elm

Dignity

Enchanter’s Nightshade

Witchcraft, Sorcery

Endive

Frugality

Eupatorium

Delay

Everflowering Candytuft

Indifference

Evergreen Clematis

Poverty

Evergreen Thorn

Solace in adversity

Everlasting

Never-ceasing remembrance

Everlasting Pea

Lasting pleasure

Fennel

Worthy of all praise, Strength

Fern

Fascination

Ficoides, Ice Plant

Your looks freeze me

Fig

Argument

Fig Marigold

Idleness

Fig Tree

Prolific

Filbert

Reconciliation

Fir

Time

Fir Tree

Elevation

Flax

Domestic industry, Fate, I feel your kindness

Flax-leaved Goldy-locks

Tardyness

Fleur-de-Lis

Flame, I burn

Fleur-de-Luce

Fire

Flowering Fern

Reverie

Flowering Reed

Confidence in Heaven

Flower-of-an-Hour

Delicate beauty

Fly Orchis

Error

Flytrap

Deceit

Fool’s Parsley

Silliness

Forget Me Not

True love, Forget me not

Foxglove

Insincerity

Foxtail Grass

Sporting

French Honeysuckle

Rustic beauty

French Marigold

Jealousy

French Willow

Bravery and humanity

Frog Ophrys

Disgust

Fuller’s Teasel

Misanthropy

Fumitory

Spleen

Fuschia, Scarlet

Taste

Garden Anemone

Forsaken

Garden Chervil

Sincerity

Garden Daisy

I partake your sentiments

Garden Marigold

Uneasiness

Garden Ranunculus

You are rich in attractions

Garden Sage

Esteem

Garland of Roses

Reward of virtue

Germander Speedwell

Facility

Geranium, Dark

Melancholy

Geranium, Ivy

Bridal favor

Geranium, Lemon

Unexpected meeting

Geranium, Nutmeg

Expected meeting

Geranium, Oak-leaved

True friendship

Geranium, Penciled

Ingenuity

Geranium, Rose-scented

Preference

Geranium, Scarlet

Comforting stupidity

Geranium, Silver-leaved

Recall

Geranium, wild

Steadfast piety

Gilliflower

Bonds of affection

Glory Flower

Glorious beauty

Goat’s Rue

Reason

Golden Rod

Precaution

Gooseberry

Anticipation

Gourd

Extent, Bulk

Grape, Wild

Charity

Grass

Submission, Utility

Guelder Rose

Winter, Age

Hand Flower Tree

Warning

Harebell

Submission, Grief

Hawkweed

Quicksightedness

Hawthorn

Hope

Hazel

Reconciliation

Heath

Solitude

Helenium

Tears

Heliotrope

Devotion, Faithfulness

Hellebore

Scandal, Calumny

Helmet Flower (Monkshood)

Knight-errantry

Hemlock

You will be my death

Hemp

Fate

Henbane

Imperfection

Hepatica

Confidence

Hibiscus

Delicate beauty

Holly

Foresight

Holly Herb

Enchantment

Hollyhock

Ambition, Fecundity

Honesty

Honesty, Fascination

Honey Flower

Love, sweet and secret

Honeysuckle

Generous and devoted affection

Honeysuckle (Coral)

The color of my fate

Honeysuckle (French)

Rustic beauty

Hop

Injustice

Hornbean

Ornament

Horse Chestnut

Luxury

Hortensia

You are cold

Houseleek

Vivacity, Domestic industry

Houstonia

Content

Hoya

Sculpture

Humble Plant

Despondency

Hundred-leaved Rose

Dignity of mind

Hyacinth

Sport, Game, Play

Hyacinth, White

Unobtrusive loveliness

Hydrangea

A boaster, Heartlessness

Hyssop

Cleanliness

Iceland Moss

Health

Ice Plant

Your looks freeze me

Imperial Montague

Power

Indian Cress

Warlike trophy

Indian Jasmine (Ipomoea)

Attachment

Indian Pink (Double)

Always lovely

Indian Plum

Privation

Iris

Message

Iris German

Flame

Ivy

Fidelity, Marriage

Ivy, Sprig of, with tendrils

Assiduous to please

Jacob’s Ladder

Come down

Japan Rose

Beauty is your only attraction

Jasmine

Amiability

Jasmine, Cape

Transport of joy

Jasmine, Carolina

Separation

Jasmine, Indian

I attach myself to you

Jasmine, Spanish

Sensuality

Jasmine, Yellow

Grace and elegance

Jonquil

I desire a return of affection

Judas Tree

Unbelief, Betrayal

Juniper

Succor, Protection

Justicia

The perfection of female loveliness

Kennedia

Mental beauty

King-cups

Desire of riches

Laburnum

Forsaken, Pensive beauty

Lady’s Slipper

Capricious beauty, Win me and wear me

Lagerstraemia, Indian

Eloquence

Lantana

Rigor

Larch

Audacity, Boldness

Larkspur

Lightness, Levity

Larkspur, Pink

Fickleness

Larkspur, Purple

Haughtiness

Laurel

Glory

Laurel Common, in flower

Perfidy

Laurel, Ground

Perseverance

Laurel, Mountain

Ambition

Laurel-leaved Magnolia

Dignity

Laurestina

A token, I die if neglected

Lavender

Distrust

Leaves (dead)

Melancholy

Lemon

Zest

Lemon Blossoms

Fidelity in love

Lettuce

Cold-heartedness

Lichen

Dejection, Solitude

Lilac, Field

Humility

Lilac, Purple

First emotions of love

Lilac, White

Youthful innocence

Lily, Day

Coquetry

Lily, Imperial

Majesty

Lily, White

Youthful innocence

Lily, Yellow

Falsehood, Gaiety

Lily of the Valley

Return of happiness

Linden or Lime Trees

Conjugal love

Lint

I feel my obligation

Live Oak

Liberty

Liverwort

Confidence

Licorice, Wild

I declare against you

Lobelia

Malevolence

Locust Tree

Elegance

Locust Tree (green)

Affection beyond the grave

London Pride

Frivolity

Lote Tree

Concord

Lotus

Eloquence

Lotus Flower

Estranged love

Lotus Leaf

Recantation

Love in a Mist

Perplexity

Love lies Bleeding

Hopeless, not heartless

Lucern

Life

Lupine

Voraciousness, Imagination

Madder

Calumny

Magnolia

Love of nature

Magnolia, Swamp

Perseverance

Mallow

Mildness

Mallow, Marsh

Beneficence

Mallow, Syrian

Consumed by love

Mallow, Venetian

Delicate beauty

Manchineal Tree

Falsehood

Mandrake

Horror

Maple

Reserve

Marigold

Grief

Marigold, African

Vulgar minds

Marigold, French

Jealousy

Marigold, Prophetic

Prediction

Marigold and Cypress

Despair

Marjoram

Blushes

Marvel of Peru

Timidity

Meadow Lychnis

Wit

Meadow Saffron

My best days are past

Meadowsweet

Uselessness

Mercury

Goodness

Mesembryanthemum

Idleness

Mezereon

Desire to please

Michaelmas Daisy

Afterthought

Mignionette

Your qualities surpass your charms

Milfoil

War

Milkvetch

Your presence softens my pains

Milkwort

Hermitage

Mimosa (Sensitive Plant)

Sensitiveness

Mint

Virtue

Mistletoe

I surmount difficulties

Mock Orange

Counterfeit

Monkshood (Helmet Flower)

Chivalry Knight-errantry

Moonwort

Forgetfulness

Morning Glory

Affectation

Moschatel

Weakness

Moss

Maternal love

Mosses

Ennui

Mossy Saxifrage

Affection

Motherwort

Concealed love

Mountain Ash

Prudence

Mourning Bride

Unfortunate attachment, I have lost all

Mouse-eared Chickweed

Ingenuous simplicity

Mouse-eared Scorpion Grass

Forget me not

Moving Plant

Agitation

Mudwort

Tranquility

Mugwort

Happiness

Mulberry Tree (Black)

I shall not survive you

Mulberry Tree (White)

Wisdom

Mushroom

Suspicion

Musk Plant

Weakness

Mustard Seed

Indifference

Myrobalan

Privation

Myrrh

Gladness

Myrtle

Love

Narcissus

Egotism

Nasturtium

Patriotism

Nettle Burning

Slander

Nettle Tree

Concert

Night-blooming Cereus

Transient beauty

Night Convolvulus

Night

Nightshade

Truth

Oak Leaves

Bravery

Oak Tree

Hospitality

Oak (White)

Independence

Oats

The witching soul of music

Oleander

Beware

Olive

Peace

Orange Blossoms

Your purity equals your loveliness

Orange Tree

Generosity

Orchis

A Belle

Osier

Frankness

Osmunda

Dreams

Ox Eye

Patience

Palm

Victory

Pansy

Thoughts

Parsley

Festivity

Pasque Flower

You have no claims

Passion Flower

Religious superstition

Patience Dock

Patience

Pea, Everlasting

An appointed meeting, Lasting pleasure

Pea, Sweet

Departure

Peach

Your qualities, like your charms, are unequaled

Peach Blossom

I am your captive

Pear

Affection

Pear Tree

Comfort

Pennyroyal

Flee away

Peony

Shame, Bashfulness

Peppermint

Warmth of feeling

Periwinkle, Blue

Early friendship

Periwinkle, White

Pleasures of memory

Persicaria

Restoration

Persimon

Bury me amid nature’s beauties

Peruvian Heliotrope

Devotion

Pheasant’s Eye

Remembrance

Phlox

Unanimity

Pigeon Berry

Indifference

Pimpernell

Change, Assignation

Pine

Pity

Pine-apple

You are perfect

Pine, Pitch

Philosophy

Pine, Spruce

Hope in adversity

Pink

Boldness

Pink, Carnation

Woman’s love

Pink, Indian, Double

Always lovely

Pink, Indian, Single

Aversion

Pink, Mountain

Aspiring

Pink, Red, Double

Pure and ardent love

Pink, Single

Pure love

Pink, Variegated

Refusal

Pink, White

Ingeniousness, Talent

Plane Tree

Genius

Plum, Indian

Privation

Plum Tree

Fidelity

Plum, Wild

Independence

Polyanthus

Pride of riches

Polyanthus, Crimson

The heart’s mystery

Polyanthus, Lilac

Confidence

Pomegranate Flower

Mature elegance

Poplar, Black

Courage

Poplar, White

Time

Poppy, Red

Consolation

Poppy, Scarlet

Fantastic extravagance

Poppy, White

Sleep, My bane, My antidote

Potato

Benevolence

Prickly Pear

Satire

Pride of China

Dissension

Primrose

Early youth

Primrose, Evening

Inconstancy

Primrose, Red

Unpatronized merit

Privet

Prohibition

Purple, Clover

Provident

Pyrus Japonica

Fairies’ fire

Quaking-Grass

Agitation

Quamoclit

Busybody

Queen’s Rocket

You are the queen of coquettes, Fashion

Quince

Temptation

Ragged Robin

Wit

Ranunculus

You are radiant with charms

Ranunculus, Garden

You are rich in attractions

Ranunculus, Wild

Ingratitude

Raspberry

Remorse

Ray Grass

Vice

Red Catchfly

Youthful love

Reed

Complaisance Music

Reed, Split

Indiscretion

Rhododendron (Rosebay)

Danger Beware

Rhubarb

Advice

Rocket

Rivalry

Rose

Love

Rose, Austrian

Thou art all that is lovely

Rose, Bridal

Happy love

Rose, Burgundy

Unconscious beauty

Rose, Cabbage

Ambassador of love

Rose, Campion

Only deserve my love

Rose, Carolina

Love is dangerous

Rose, China

Beauty always new

Rose Christmas

Tranquilize my anxiety

Rose, Daily

Thy smile I aspire to

Rose, Damask

Brilliant complexion

Rose, Deep Red

Bashful shame

Rose, Dog

Pleasure and pain

Rose, Guelder

Winter, Age

Rose, Hundred-leaved

Pride

Rose, Japan

Beauty is your only attraction

Rose, Maiden Blush

If you love me, you will find it out

Rose, Multiflora

Grace

Rose, Mundi

Variety

Rose, Musk

Capricious beauty

Rose, Musk, Cluster

Charming

Rose, Single

Simplicity

Rose, Thornless

Early attachment

Rose, Unique

Call me not beautiful

Rose, White

I am worthy of you

Rose, White (withered)

Transient impressions

Rose, Yellow

Decrease of love, Jealousy

Rose, York and Lancaster

War

Rose, Full-blown, placed over two Buds

Secrecy

Roses, Crown of

Reward of virtue

Rosebud, Red

Pure and lovely

Rosebud, White

Girlhood

Rosebud, Moss

Confession of love

Rosebay (Rhododendron)

Beware, Danger

Rosemary

Remembrance

Rudbeckia

Justice

Rue

Disdain

Rush

Docility

Rye Grass

Changeable disposition

Saffron

Beware of excess

Saffron Crocus

Mirth

Saffron, Meadow

My happiest days are past

Sage

Domestic virtue

Sage, Garden

Esteem

Sainfoin

Agitation

St John’s Wort

Animosity, Superstition

Sardony

Irony

Saxifrage, Mossy

Affection

Scabious

Unfortunate love

Scabious, Sweet

Widowhood

Scarlet Lychnis

Sunbeaming eyes

Schinus

Religious enthusiasm

Scotch Fir

Elevation

Sensitive Plant

Sensibility, Delicate feelings

Senvy

Indifference

Shamrock

Light-heartedness

Snakesfoot

Horror

Snapdragon

Presumption

Snowball

Bound

Snowdrop

Hope

Sorrel

Affection

Sorrel, Wild

Wit ill-timed

Sorrel, Wood

Joy

Southernwood

Jest, Bantering

Spanish Jasmine

Sensuality

Spearmint

Warmth of sentiment

Speedwell

Female fidelity

Speedwell, Germander

Facility

Speedwell, Spiked

Semblance

Spider Ophrys

Adroitness

Spiderwort

Esteem, not love

Spiked Willow Herb

Pretension

Spindle Tree

Your charms are engraven on my heart

Star of Bethlehem

Purity

Starwort

Afterthought

Starwort, American

Cheerfulness in old age

Stock

Lasting beauty

Stock, Ten Week

Promptness

Stonecrop

Tranquility

Straw, Broken

Rupture of a contract

Straw, Whole

Union

Strawberry Tree

Esteem and love

Sumach, Venice

Splendor, Intellectual excellence

Sunflower, Dwarf

Adoration

Sunflower, Tall

Haughtiness

Swallow-wort

Cure for heartache

Sweet Basil

Good wishes

Sweetbrier, American

Simplicity

Sweetbrier, European

I wound to heal

Sweetbrier, Yellow

Decrease of love

Sweet Pea

Delicate pleasures

Sweet Sultan

Felicity

Sweet William

Gallantry

Sycamore

Curiosity

Syringa

Memory

Syringa, Carolina

Disappointment

Tamarisk

Crime

Tansy (Wild)

I declare war against you

Teasel

Misanthropy

Tendrils of Climbing Plants

Ties

Thistle, Common

Austerity

Thistle, Fuller’s

Misanthropy

Thistle, Scotch

Retaliation

Thorn, Apple

Deceitful charms

Thorn, Branch of

Severity

Thrift

Sympathy

Throatwort

Neglected beauty

Thyme

Activity

Tiger Flower

For once may pride befriend me

Traveler’s Joy

Safety

Tree of Life

Old age

Trefoil

Revenge

Tremella Nestoc

Resistance

Trillium Pictum

Modest beauty

Truffle

Surprise

Trumpet Flower

Fame

Tuberose

Dangerous pleasures

Tulip

Fame

Tulip, Red

Declaration of love

Tulip, Variegated

Beautiful eyes

Tulip, Yellow

Hopeless love

Turnip

Charity

Tussilage (Sweet-scented)

Justice shall be done

Valerian

An accommodating disposition

Valerian, Greek

Rupture

Venice Sumach

Intellectual excellence Splendor

Venus’s Car

Fly with me

Venus’s Looking-glass

Flattery

Venus’s Trap

Deceit

Vernal Grass

Poor, but happy

Veronica

Fidelity

Vervain

Enchantment

Vine

Intoxication

Violet, Blue

Faithfulness

Violet, Dane

Watchfulness

Violet, Sweet

Modesty

Violet, Yellow

Rural happiness

Virginian Spiderwort

Momentary happiness

Virgin’s Bower

Filial love

Volkamenia

May you be happy

Walnut

Intellect, Stratagem

Wall-flower

Fidelity in adversity

Water Lily

Purity of heart

Water Melon

Bulkiness

Wax Plant

Susceptibility

Wheat Stalk

Riches

Whin

Anger

White Jasmine

Amiableness

White Lily

Purity and modesty

White Mullein

Good nature

White Oak

Independence

White Pink

Talent

White Poplar

Time

White Rose (dried)

Death preferable to loss of innocence

Wortleberry

Treason

Willow, Creeping

Love forsaken

Willow, Water

Freedom

Willow, Weeping

Mourning

Willow-Herb

Pretension

Willow-French

Bravery and humanity

Winter Cherry

Deception

Witch Hazel

A spell

Woodbine

Brotherly love

Wood Sorrel

Motherly love

Wormwood

Absence

Xanthium

Rudeness, Pertinacity

Xeranthemum

Cheerfulness under difficulty

Yew

Sorrow

Zephyr Flower

Expectation

Zinnia

Thoughts of absent friends

Gardening Jobs in February

Gardening Jobs in February

What kind of gardening jobs are there to do in February?

If your fingers are itching and you can’t wait to get your hands back into the soil, here is what you can do, even as early as February. (At least if you live in the northern hemisphere and are living in a growing zone 7-8. Every climate zone is different and you may also have a micro-climate, so take this as general advice – no guarantees, rather than as gospel truth.

Although it is still winter and the weather has been pretty wild and stormy, I have spotted the first snowdrops and even the first Winter Aconite! They are such a welcome sight – the first signs that let you know beyond doubt that although there may still be snow around and temperatures are far from balmy – spring is definitely on the way.

The sight of these has been a kind of floral wake up call. My fingers have been itching ever since and I feel restless, yearning to get active in the garden. But where to start, and what to do? After all, it is still too cold for sowing most of my summer crop plants outside.

Crocus

(Crocus vernus)

The spring crocus is one of the most cherished spring flowers. Its flowers come in many different colors and to me, they are reminiscent of Easter Eggs – although Easter is still a long way away. It is the shape of the balloon-like flowers that create this association in my mind. Like the other early flowering plants, it too makes the most of dry sunny weather, to attract early pollinators, but close their flowers to protect their delicate parts as soon as cold or rainy weather is on the way.

Winter Aconite

(Eranthis hyemalis)

Like miniature suns, these golden stars warm the heart in early spring. Daringly, they open up fully to the first warming rays of the sun. But they are not stupid. As soon as the sky clouds over, they fold up their petals to keep their stamens and stigma protected and warm. While heart-warming and pretty to behold, it is good to remember that this is a Ranunculus species and all of its parts are poisonous.

Cyclamen

(Cyclamen coum)

Cyclamens are so cute! Their pink little flowers remind me of piglets, with the snout pointing down and their ears (petals) flying in the wind, so to speak. The dainty flowers appear to be ‘inside-out’, seemingly exposing their pollinating parts. But that isn’t actually the case. Their delicate stamens and sepals are sheltered inside the ‘snout’, which forms a tubular structure that protects them against the elements. 

Snowdrops

(Galanthus nivalis) 

These tender little flowers are the most daring of all! Long before other flowers wake up, this one has sent its spear-like flowers up, even piercing the snow, if necessary. Its bell-like dangles tenuously on the stem, protecting itself from the elements by facing the earth, rather than the sky, its petals sheltering the stamen and stigma. Snowdrops are heralds of hope at a time when winter is still raging. The message is clear. It’s early days yet, but spring IS on the way. Life will return…soon.

Indoor Gardening

Start some long-season plants indoors

At this time of the year, my house turns into a potting shed. I am not suggesting you should do this, too. Maybe you are better organized. Maybe you have a greenhouse or a heated cold frame or something like that, where you can start the earliest seeds, protected from the cold.

If you live in the northern hemisphere, as I do, the growing season is limited. To extend it as far as possible, start off long-season plants, like chili peppers or aubergines, by sowing them early indoors.

All you need are some starter trays and some soil. It is best to use special sterile starter soil that is not too heavy with nutrients. The reason why you want it to be sterile is so that your tender seedlings do not have to compete for nutrients. This is even more of an issue if the seeds you are sowing are slow to sprout.

Gardening shops sell both, the potting mix for starting seeds as well as the seedling starter trays. While they make things easier and often come with a tray to put them on as well as a lid to keep moisture in, you don’t really need them. You can improvise by recycling your yogurt pots, or other plastic containers. You can even use the cardboard tube of your toilet rolls. These are especially good for tender plants that develop long, fragile roots, such as carrots.

Give your warmth-loving, long-season plants a boost by starting them off 8-10 weeks before the last expected frost in your region. Cover the pots with plastic and keep the soil moist. Place them in a bright, warm spot and you should see the first seedlings pop up soon. Use a spray can only to water the seedlings until they are robust enough to handle a watering can. Once there is no more danger of frost and soil temperatures have risen to about 15°C/60°F you can begin to harden your ‘babies’ off before transferring them to their permanent spots.

In the garden

Once the snow has melted and the soil has dried off, it is time to get busy preparing the beds. Cut back dead plants if you didn’t do it in the fall (I keep most things standing through the winter to help the wildlife). Loosen the soil and get rid of the invasive weeds. (Some of those may well be edible!) Mix in some fresh compost. Beds that you are not going to use immediately should be mulched. Let the soil settle until it is warm enough to transfer your first seedlings or to sow directly into the prepared bed.

The earliest crops that can be sown directly into the soil include peas, early varieties of radish, parsley, spinach, and carrots, as well as lettuce, and onions sets. If you are worried about late frost, start them in a cold frame until the soil has warmed to about 15°C.

Carrots and parsley can be slow to sprout. You might want to start them in a dish of wet sand. Leave the dish in the cold for about a week, then take it indoors and you should see them sprout pretty quickly. The most important thing to know about sowing carrots and root parsley is that they like loose and even soil. So make sure their permanent spot is well prepared. You can do this by mixing sand and garden soil and sifting both to create a nice light soil.

By the end of February, you can start to sprout your spuds. For best results use seed potatoes. Lay them out in egg cartons on the windowsill until they start to sprout. Turn them so that the side with the most ‘eyes’ is face up. Let them sprout for 5-6 weeks, before planting them out.

For other veggies, it is best to delay sowing until early March, if you can wait that long.

Happy gardening!

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