Happy St. Patrick’s Day potatoes – In honor of the wearin’ o’ the green, I’m pulling out “Gardener Guy” Paul James’ recipe for planting potatoes that turns clay soil into black gold, given at the old Wichita Garden Show in 2010:
Place seed potatoes on the surface of the soil, and pile 12 to 18 inches of hay or straw on top, replenishing as needed. As the season progresses, the straw breaks down, and the potatoes grow up into it. You reach in and harvest when the plants flower for new potatoes, or wait for the foliage to die and harvest potatoes that can be stored. "It’s a no-dig tater. Can you dig that?" James said. "It’s really fun. And that clay soil won’t be clay soil anymore, because that hay is gonna rot. If you want to transform heavy clay, that’s my best tip."
Plant – Potatoes, strawberries, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, radishes, peas, turnips and beets.
Prune roses – On all roses, remove dead wood. On hybrid tea roses, remove dead stubs and prune one of three ways, as described by Ward Upham of K-State:
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• Heavy or severe pruning is done on well-established, vigorous plants to produce large, showy flowers. Prune back to three to four healthy canes with three to six eyes per cane. Canes normally will be 6 to 12 inches long.
• Moderate pruning is done on well-established, healthy plants and is designed to increase the number of flowers produced rather than increase flower size. Leave five to six healthy canes with at least seven buds per cane. Prune stems to 12 to 18 inches long.
• Light pruning rejuvenates plants after years of neglect or may be performed on newly established plants. Leave five to seven canes of about 18 inches or more in length. This helps maximize leaf area for energy production and rejuvenates plants.
“If your plants suffered a significant amount of winter damage,” Upham says, “they may need to be cut back more severely than even the heavy-pruning style. This will result in a few large flowers but in this case is your only option.”
Asparagus – Remove old growth from asparagus plants, Upham says. Lightly till or hoe to remove weeds, adding organic matter at the same time if desired. Fertilize. Mulch will help shade weeds out.
Naturally brown junipers – Certain Eastern redcedar and various other junipers may look brown from a distance now, and it may be the male flowers. They are on the tips of the foliage and look somewhat like a cross between a miniature hand grenade and a pinecone, Upham says.
Iris-hybridizing program – The Wichita Area Iris Club will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at Botanica. The program will be on hybridizing iris and is free and open to the public.
Daylily grower’s Oz-dyssey – A man from Dublin, Ga., (aka the Emerald City) whose family has hybridized 28 Wizard-of-Oz-themed daylilies will be in Wichita on Sunday to give a talk. The public is invited. The free presentation by Tim Herrington will be at 2 p.m. at Botanica and is sponsored by the Prairie Winds Daylily Society. One of the Munchkins from the Oz movie lived in Dublin and was a friend of Herrington’s. Among his daylilies’ names: Flying Monkeys and Lollipop Kids.
Botanica’s Tulips and Fairies Festival – The festival starts today and continues Saturdays through April 14. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and regular Botanica admission is charged. Among the activities: scavenger hunts and fairy activities in the Downing Children’s Garden.
Project Beauty Card & Game Party – From 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Botanica. Bring your cards or any board game. There will be refreshments and door prizes. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased from members or at the door. Proceeds will go to Project Beauty’s beautification projects.
Birding at Botanica – 9 a.m. Tuesday. Included in Botanica admission.
Talk on new annuals and perennials – Dan Parcel of Kaw Valley Greenhouses will be at Botanica on Wednesday to do a presentation on new annuals and perennials. His lunchtime lecture, at 12:15, is included in Botanica admission. Lunch from Sweet Basil will be for sale for $7 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.