Stonecrop garden plants

Stonecrop garden plants are spring-flowering perennials with broad oval leaves, smaller than forget-me-not, and more rounded than perennial brome. Flowers grow singly on upper branches and are topped by a bumblebee-attracting tubular flower cluster. The striking blue flowers bloom from mid to late spring and early summer. May and June are the best months for this easy garden plant. In our climate it may get some shade in very hot, dry weather. It needs lots of water at any time. It is a great cut-flower and provides fall color in the garden. At 4½ ft. (1.4 m) tall it is easily grown in a small space. One plant can provide a long season of blooms.

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## Hardy Perennial/Annual Garden Plants

* Grow annual or perennial mums and primroses in watertight containers (hose or screw-top watertight buckets). Position where you want flowers and plant seeds. Transplant after your last frost, or water and allow to grow. We have a deep supply of buckets for our shop in our outdoor shop shed, but you could do it all indoors if needed.

They don't need to be treated with a foliar herbicide. If growing with a floral pot, use the same fertilizer and potting soil as you would for your herbaceous perennials.

Larger-sized pots work better for larger flowers and have to be treated for insects and disease.

## Shears

* For us, we try to use shears when possible for trimming and pruning. Shears are good tools, especially to cut, up young plants that have not grown.

* Shears or small pruners with sharp, or blunted, tips for working around the outside of flowers or pruning close to where plants are cut. Handheld shears are not good.

## Transplanting

* When you're ready to plant hardy perennial and annual flowering plants from seed in your garden, your first order of business is to prepare the soil.

* You must know how to grow and prune perennials so they stay healthy and beautiful.

* It's best to plant perennials in the cool of the evening, or whenever possible, in a greenhouse. That way they will be warm enough when you plant them, so they don't have to be started indoors.

* To prepare the soil for planting, dig a trench about 18" (46 cm) wide and as deep as you have indicated the plant or plants you plan to place in the garden. Fill with aged manure and/or topsoil.

* Remove weeds.

* Take clippings from tender plants that are to be transplanted. You can plant clippings next spring or fall.

* Test the soil for moisture by digging a hole or weighing out a handful of soil. Water it and then let it dry. The soil should be dry but not dusty. If too dry, water it, if too moist, let it dry before watering.

* At first remove the lower leaves of the plant, or leave them on to prevent rot. If using the leaf-clip method, use the tip of a scissors to cut off one side of the lower leaves, making an inverted V shape, or cut the leaves off at an angle.

* If using soil blocks, first push a finger down into the soil and, when you reach the first stem, take a clump of soil and insert it into the hole, being careful not to break it. Then insert more soil and push it down, away from the surface. It should rest just below the surface of the soil. Repeat this until you have 6 to 12 plants in the hole. Fill the rest of the soil around the roots with your fingers.

* If using potting soil, first punch holes about 1/3" (7.6 mm) deep. Then fill with the potting soil and tamp it down with your finger. If you are working with small plants, this method will work. If the plants are in larger pots, you may need to remove them from the pots and insert them into the soil before filling around the roots. Fill the rest of the holes with potting soil and tamp it down, then add water.

* Before planting perennials, water well, let drain for a few hours, and fertilize with a mulch-fertilizer, high in phosphorus (P), potassium (K), and nitrogen (N). If you're using fine mulch, this will be absorbed. Lay the mulch on the area where the plants will be planted. Avoid paths and walkways.

* Trim flowering stems in late spring, then wait until new stems appear to clip them. Wait until the plants have at least one bud, then you can cut off just the top of the plant, or just above a bud, using sharp shears or small-tip pruners. Prune off as many of the flowers as you want. Plant in a shady spot where they will do well.

* Young perennials should be started out of the ground in early spring. Allow the soil to warm up a few days before setting plants in the garden. Perennial seeds should be sprinkled over soil and kept moist. As seeds germinate, you'll be able to tell which ones are ready to be transplanted. Plant them into a prepared hole or, if you are going to use the leaf-clip method, plant into a pot or one of the soil blocks mentioned earlier. Fill in the rest of the holes with potting soil and tamp down. Water thoroughly. This encourages the plants to grow well.

# Chapter 4

# Fruit and Vegetable Gardening

Gardening in any season is more fun and rewarding when you get to eat your harvest. In spring, when things are just starting to grow, you can harvest in-season as many fruits and vegetables as you want. As the summer progresses, you will want to preserve some of the harvest. By fall, you can get ready to plant for the coming year. When

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