Gardener’s almanac (March 15)

03/15/2014 7:38 AM

03/15/2014 7:44 AM

Plant – Broccoli, lettuce, potatoes (see more info below), radishes, peas, strawberries, rhubarb, turnips.

St. Patrick’s Day potatoes – Potato-growing time always reminds me of this tip from Paul James for growing potatoes in clay soil, which I learned when James gave a talk here in 2010: Place seed potatoes on the surface of the soil, and pile 12 to 18 inches of hay or straw on top. As the season progresses, the straw breaks down, the potatoes grow up into it, and you keep replenishing the hay or straw as they do. Then 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. As the hay rots, it will transform the clay soil underneath.

Don’t plant potatoes until the minimum soil temperature is 40 degrees. Check The Eagle’s weather page, on the back of the Local & State section, for soil temperatures, under “Farm & Garden.”

Garden events

Winter market – An indoor winter farmers market will be Saturday at the Extension Education Center at 21st and Ridge Road. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is free. Items for sale will include meat from local farmers – chicken, beef, bison, lamb, turkey and deer – as well as eggs, fresh winter produce, salsa, baked items and plants.

The Kansas Grown Farmers Market will open its outdoor season April 5 in the parking lot of the Extension Center.

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Iris dinner and program – A program on species iris and a covered-dish dinner will be part of the meeting of the Wichita Area Iris Club on Monday at Botanica. The dinner will be at 6:30 p.m., and the program by James Waddick and Jim Murrain will follow. The meeting is free and open to the public; if attending the dinner, bring a dish to share.

Birding at Botanica – The monthly bird-watching walk through Botanica is Tuesday. It starts at 9 a.m. and is included in Botanica admission.

Arnold’s new-plants talk – Rita Arnold of Arnold’s Greenhouse in LeRoy will be at Botanica on Wednesday to talk about some of the new roses, shrubs and perennials for sale at Arnold’s this year. The lunchtime lecture, from 12:15 to 1 p.m., is included in Botanica admission.

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African violet activity for home-schooled kids – The Wichita African Violet Study Club will have a spring-break activity for home-schooled children at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Botanica. The club will provide cookies and leaves for planting that will grow into African violets; cost is $1 per child or $5 per family. Older home-schooled kids and club members will be on hand to help. Additional leaves will be available for sale. Call 316-200-8120 to register.

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“Tulips, Fairies & Friends” – Botanica will kick off its spring season March 22 and continue for the next four Saturdays with “Tulips, Fairies & Friends.” The Saturday events will feature performers, activities and crafts from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Each Saturday will feature a new butterfly mascot for the Downing Children’s Garden, at least two crafts, life-size fairies in the garden, find your fairy name, a gnome scavenger hunt, fairy houses and Papa Murphy’s pizza for sale.

There also will be special events on each of the Saturdays. On March 22, there will be a Tiny Tea – children’s tea with mini-cupcakes – from 11 a.m to 1 p.m. and voting for the name of the new mascot.

Botanica also is having two competitions: a child 14 or younger will be the voice of the new mascot, with auditions from 3:30 to 5 p.m April 12, and a fairy house competition for a $5 entry fee; entries must be received by April 12. For rules, download the fairy house competition form at www.botanica.org or call 316-264-0448.

Admission is included in membership or regular admission: $7 for adults, $5 for ages 3-12, free for ages 2 and under, $6 for seniors and military.

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Project Beauty card and game party – Project Beauty will have its annual card and game party on March 27 at Botanica. The event, from noon to 2:30 p.m., will include card games, board games, refreshments and door prizes. Bring your favorite board game or bunco/bridge group, or join in with others. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at the door.

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