By Phyllis Galowitz

The weather has been teasing us; there’ve been frosts that made us hurry to pull off the remaining green tomatoes, bring the plants indoors that we want to overwinter in the house, and tuck the garden in to sleep. Just when we rushed to do all that, spring temperatures returned…too late… the dahlias had already blackened and had to be dug and stored. The trees are mostly bare except for a few leaves that are holding on a little while longer. A spring rain is falling but it surely doesn’t look like spring. Grape hyacinths think it’s time to bloom and their glasslike leaves are waving in the breeze. Broccoli might still make it before the hard frost comes.

I don’t think the bears have hibernated yet so I haven’t put out the bird feeders and I do miss the show that comes with them and the other creatures that follow, cleaning up the debris. Probably, by the time you’re reading this, snow will have blanketed everything and you’ll wonder what I could have been talking about!

There’s a feeling of lazy relaxation that comes with the end of the gardening season. I can sit by the fire and read a book while Beethoven fills my ears with glorious music. I can enjoy the greens of my indoor garden and watch the flowering plants emerge. But beware; this time of the year, spider mites are lurking and love to suck the juices from those houseplants, so mist the plants lightly to keep the humidity high. You can also bathe them in mild, soapy water and if you notice that the leaves are speckled and silvery, a sure sign that mites are present, spray them with insecticidal soap, following the label directions for indoor use. If you’ve brought geraniums indoors and they’re looking very leggy, cut them back to one foot tall. They’ll re-sprout and grow bushier.

Try potting some bulbs now for early spring blooms indoors. Water them. Set them aside in a cool, dark area, such as a cellar or refrigerator. Ideal temperature should be 35° to 48° and the medium should be kept moist. When you see shoots two to three inches above the soil and fine white roots emerging from the drainage holes, it’s time to bring the pots out of cold storage and into an unheated room where the temperature is about 50°, with indirect lighting. When the foliage and buds have developed, move the pots to a bright, sunny window, where the temperature is 65°. When the flowers begin to open, take the plants out of direct sunlight to prolong the bloom. Now get your camera out and photograph that miracle of nature!

P.S. Thank you Warren, for the Canna rhizomes that you left me in the library with instructions for storing and planting. I’ll treasure them and let you know how they are doing in the spring! ~