Time to get my baby plants out of the dining room and into the fresh air.

A few hours in protected spot, like under this viburnum, is a perfect introduction to outdoor life.

This gradual acclamation to the wide world is called “hardening off”. It’s a critical and nerve wracking step, but very necessary.

A cold frame works, too. But hey, the viburnum was closer, and the plants seemed to like it fine. Happy to say, their first day out was a success.

Plants have officially taken over the dining room.  If the weather stays warm, we will have an enormous tomato crop! Some favorites on the table include: Sweet Chelsea, Red Jelly Bean, Bella Rosa, Big Beef and many more.


Happy to say that seeds are once again germinating on our dining room table–a sure sign of spring.

Years ago, I invested in adjustable grow lights, and they have certainly paid for themselves in seedlings. My lights came from Park Seed.


But I would never use these pricey floressents without pulling out my inexpensive little fan. The moving air not only makes my seedlings sturdy and compact (as opposed to floppy and leggy), it prevents “damping off”, a condition that causes tender stems collapse. In my experience, if you have a seed table, you must have a fan blowing across.



Tool number 3 is also an adaptation. I bought two packs of foil trays in the catering section at Costco. They’re much sturdier than plastic plant trays and allow me to bottom water without leaks. Watering the surface can knock baby plants over, so I pour lukewarm water into the tray, let it sit about an hour and pour off excess.


Finally, a old plastic table cloth protects the dining room table. Mine came from the thrift store. You can also use plastic drop cloths from the paint store, or plastic sheets from the fabric store. Wrap them around your lights to store in the off season.

Any signs of spring around your place?


It’s hard to find a prettier picture this time of year than early daffodils under a Carolina blue sky. And you can bet the bulb companies know this. Their catalogs are full of stunning close up photos.


But in the landscape, it’s a very different story. It takes a ton of bulbs to make a splash in our Apex (NC) woods.

So I’m really happy that all the work and money I’ve spent on daffodils over the years is finally paying off.


Of course there have been some casualties along the way. None of the double daffodils I planted survived more than a few years. Ditto–the late season varieties. Our woods leaf out too early for them to store energy for the next year.


But a few varieties have proved to be big winners for me, returning year after year, and blooming their hearts out without any care. My daffodil stars are:

February Gold
Ice Follies

What about you? I’m always looking for new daffodil varieties to light up the woods here in zone 7-B. What are your daffodil stars?


It’s not a fancy greenhouse–but thanks to husband Bill, it does the job. Inside, lemon, lime, and kumquat trees are producing fruit. Penta, coleus and other tender plants are wintering over.

I could show you, but on cold days and nights, I’m not allowed to open the plastic shell that adds an extra layer of insulation.

Simple–but like the little greenhouse, it does the job.

Bill’s greenhouse heat source is simple, too: A pair of heat lamps and three aquariums heaters set in buckets of water. We monitor how well this system is working with the remote thermometer that sits on our bedroom dresser.


As you can see: 27 degrees outside, 69 F in the bedroom, 49 in the greenhouse with humidity in the 80s.

Good job, Bill. Needless to say, our fingers are crossed that the power stays on–

And yes, we ARE ready for spring.

So how is your garden coping with this record breaking winter?

A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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