Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.

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Time For Pre-Summer Tasks

This weekend Mimi and I sneaked out of town to visit our daughter in Greenville, S.C. Greenville looked and felt a lot like our hometown. The plants used to enhance the quaint downtown area were totally familiar to me, and the weather was very similar to ours. Plants that are budding and blooming there are at the same stage of the early spring show that we are experiencing at home; something felt different though. With gloriously blue skies and a little chill in the air, people were pulled outside to spend time with their children, pets and each other.


A river runs right through the middle of town with a trail running parallel to it for 20 miles. Along the path were bicycle rental shops, healthy food options, breweries, and good old Mother Nature for the most part. People we talked to felt lucky to be there and were buzzing about the city’s future growth plans. Although the plans are for a lot of growth, there is great emphasis on keeping the sprawling city green. The definition of ‘green,’ when it comes to city planning, is a city designed with consideration of environmental impact, inhabited by people dedicated to minimization of required energy, water and food, and waste output of heat, air pollution and water pollution. I felt like the people we met along the way were very supportive of these ideas and many had moved there because of these ideas.


The positive outlook and general cool vibe there is attracting more like-minded people, which is causing exponential potential for this ideal culture. It causes the big wheel to spin...a wheel that you can't hang onto and you can't let go of. It’s apparent that someone, or a group of someones, had faith that this very thing would happen if someone could just get the wheel spinning.


People are not just talking about these ideals and waiting around for city officials to get all the work done. For example...Saturday afternoon, we wanted to check out this crazy new pastime people are into around there...axe throwing. We went to an axe throwing game house and brewery, which was in this cool collective of restaurants and shops.


In the common area between businesses, we saw a booth set up to hand out trash bags and those long metal tongs for picking up litter. Anyone up for a walk through one of the local neighborhoods could grab a bag and stick and go. I looked around the booth to see what you would receive in return for your full bag of garbage, and I quickly realized the incentive to clean up the community was simply a clean community. And, of course, the participants got a little fresh air and exercise. This kind of mindfulness is contagious. I saw families, couples, school groups and packs of teenagers getting with the rhythm.


The biggest garden center we visited there was leading the movement by selling only organic products for pest control and fertilization. I was shocked. It is a dream of ours to learn more about organics with the hope of keeping dangerous chemicals off the shelves at our own garden center. I am so inspired by this that starting now I am vowing to use only organics in my yard. I will do this so I can learn from experience and then begin to show our customers how to safely and effectively keep our hallowed ground like we Southerners like it to be.


I think the transition will be easy. I know I'll feel better knowing that these gully washers we keep having will not be pushing all the fertilizers I use in our yard directly into my pond where the fish are that I like to eat. You can bet you'll be seeing more on this as I go through the process. I know you can read about using organics all day long on Google, but until I really do it for myself, I consider myself uneducated on the matter.


I care a lot about our town. I love that we have our own multi-use trail along the Natchez Trace and plenty of fitness places, yoga studios and healthy eating options. We have great music venues and plenty of caring people and are doing their best to head in the same positive growth direction as Greenville. What excites me the most is the potential we have to be one of those places.


Ok, I know that I need to write about the things on my garden calendar or this article won't be deemed a garden article at all, so here goes. It is time to apply horticultural oil on your plants that are showing signs of having scale or other insects on them. This oil will coat the outer layer of the insect and smother them. Horticultural oil can be reapplied until the temperatures have reached the mid 80s. When it gets hotter than that, the oil could have a burning effect on the leaves.


It is also time to mow your monkey grass for a fresh look later in the spring. Set your mower on the highest setting before doing this. Make sure to clean up the cuttings afterwards so fungus won't be a problem. This is the time to divide and replant any monkey grass, or liriope, if you need to add some in other places. Cannas, iris and other perennials are ready to be divided and planted right now. This is a great time to prune and shape evergreens right before the spring flush of new growth.


Don't prune azaleas or other shrubs that bloom soon or you won't have many blooms this year. Prune those flowering plants after they've finished blooming this spring. Hydrangeas can be pruned now. If you are not too sure how and when to do these late winter projects, go to your favorite local garden center and get your answers. Helping you be successful in your yard is the reason we are here in your town.

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