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Behold the first snow crocus, feels good to see color in the garden again

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog backlit snow crocus 1The snow crocus signals the end of the worst part of the season. Photo by Doug Oster

For a fleeting moment the snow crocus is the star of the garden. The tiny flower is always a surprise when it pushes through left over fall leaves.

If it stays cool the flower will last for a couple weeks, temperatures rise and it will be gone in several days.

The colors are bight and cheery and even though winter has not let go yet, a crocus signals the end of the worst part of the season.

They are also a good reminder to think ahead in the garden. Believe it or not, this is a great time to plan for fall planting. My snow crocus aren't as plentiful as they used to be. That means I'll need to plant a couple hundred this fall for a spectacular show next spring.

It seems funny to be thinking so far in advance, but now is the time to record what's blooming and where. This way a plan can be be made so gardeners know exactly where to plant. I know I'll never remember where the bulbs looked great or where they were sparse.

A garden journal is a great tool for the job, but just shooting a few pictures as a reference will help to improve next year's garden.

A beautiful snow crocus should be revered and loved for its early blooms, but is also an important reminder that the garden is always changing, and we have to respond accordingly.

 

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Orchid Society of Western Pennsylvania holds free orchid show this weekend

Written by Doug Oster on .

Blog Orchid Show orchid

 The Orchid Society of Western Pennsylvania (OSWP) will hold its annual Orchid

Show on Saturday, March 21, 10 AM to 5 PM and Sunday, March 22, 10 AM to 4 PM

at the Phipps Garden Center, 1059 Shady Avenue (Fifth & Shady). Admission is free

(donations are appreciated) and the public is invited.

Photographer’s opportunity Sunday 9 a.m. to 10am before show opens to public.

Photographers can have clear access to the exhibits.

The theme of this year’s show is "Sixty years and growing...Orchids." We are celebrating

 the 60th anniversary of OSWP. One will be able to understand how easy it is to become

hooked on orchids. Visitors will be astounded to see hundreds of orchids in full bloom

in beautifully staged exhibits. The show will include orchid exhibits, free educational

seminars, plant raffles and sales by vendors from all over the eastern United States &

The orchids and exhibits will be judged by a team of certified American Orchid Society

Judges. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about and acquire orchids.

The Orchid Show is part of the educational mission of the OSWP.

For more information about the Orchid Show, orchids and The Orchid Society of

Western Pennsylvania click here. For more information contact Carolyn Bolton

(412) 714-0263

History of the OSWP

 

On February 21,1954 18 orchid lovers from throughout Western Pennsylvania met at the local

home of Grete Holst Evans (Mrs. Charles T. Evans Jr.), a gifted gardener, accomplished amateur

artist and lover of orchids since she was ten years old and growing up in the Virgin Islands. After

moving to Mt. Lebanon with her husband, Grete felt that there might be other local growers

who shared her passion and she asked the the American Orchid Society for the names of its

members in the Western Pennsylvania region. The 18 planners then decided to hold a follow-up

meeting one month later, on Valentine’s Day, March 14, to form a local organization.

Frank Curto of Phipps Conservatory proved pivotal to the fledging organization by offering the

Conservatory as a meeting site and ensuring that the event was extensively publicized. To Ms.

Evans surprise, 125 people actually attended the event and many signed on. “Orchid Society

Forms Here with 89 Hobbyists Already Members,” reported the Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph,

following up with the promise “Big Program Ahead for Admirers of Flower” (March 21 1964).

The OSWP continues to flourish today, 60 years later, remaining faithful to the founders’ vision

of affiliating with the American Orchid Society and holding meetings that featured “lectures...

[and] slides by authorities on the subject.”

Two years after its founding, the OSWP introduced its first public orchid show. Initially held

in January until the brutality of a Pittsburgh winter made early members “think spring,” it is

always a well-attended and highly-regarded event that features hobby grower and vendor

displays of orchid plants showcased in beautifully arranged naturalistic settings. Here, visitors

are offered a tantalizing glimpse of the vast variety of orchid species, the opportunity to

appreciate new advances in hybridizing, and a chance to attend free lectures on a range

of beginner and more advanced topics. One measure of the OSWP show’s track record of

excellence is the fact that a phenomenal number of plants have been recognized with American

Orchid Society awards for exceptional quality and breeding over the years. OSWP volunteers,

many wearing “Ask Me about Orchids” buttons, are happy to answer the public’s questions and

to share their insights.

 

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Celebrate St. Patrick's Day by planting seeds

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog yellow peas soakingSoaking peas overnight will help them sprout in cold soil. Photos by Doug Oster

peas in potsPeat pots are the perfect place for pea seeds to sprout.It's a tradition for gardeners to start their peas on St. Patrick's Day, for me it was my grandmother who told me when to get them going.

I always plant peas on the holiday. Here are a few tricks to get them started. There will be a complete story in this Saturday's Post-Gazette.

Soaking the seeds overnight will encourage them to sprout in cold spring soil. I decided to have some fun and try a couple different varieties. 'Golden Sweet Edible Pod' is from India and produces tall vines covered in pale yellow snow peas. Beside having a beautiful name which rolls off the tongue, 'Blauschokker' grows pretty, purple podded shell peas. The peas themselves are lime green and they look amazing, it's going to be fun to add color to the spring garden.

The soil is too wet to work this early in the season, if the dirt sticks to the shovel, don't turn it over. To solve that problem, I bought a couple bags of compost and will cover a vegetable bed and plant directly in the black compost.

Another trick I'll use to start this soon is to plant some seeds in peat pots. They are a fibrous container which will rot away in the garden soil. They are used as peas resent being transplanted and will be set back by doing so. I'll keep the planted peat pots in a warm location until they sprout and then they go out into the compost.

Even though it's getting cold again, all these seeds need are a couple 50 degree days to germinate, once up, they are indestructible. Peas love cold weather.

Starting peas now will have you harvesting when "normal" people are just starting their gardens.

blog purple peasIsn't 'Blauschokker' a beautiful pea?

blog sprouting peaThis pea seed germinated out in the garden last year just a few days after planting.

 

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Free lawn care seminar at Best Feeds Thursday 3/19

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog grass growingLearn the way to get a great lawn from Jonathan Green.

Best Feeds Garden Center on Babcock Blvd. will hold a free lawn care seminar with a representative of Jonathan Green Lawn Care Company, Thursday March 19th, 2015 at 7 p.m.

Jonathan Green offers many organic lawn care options. I use their Black Beauty and Shady Nooks grass seed in my yard and have also used Mag-I-Cal to correct the pH of my soil.

Nothing can outgrow grass when the fertility and pH are correct in the lawn. That's one of the topics the representative will be speaking about.

 

 

 

 

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Free seed starting workshop with Doug Saturday 3/14 11am at Chapon's Greenhouse

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog tomato up upBrush your fingers lightly across a tomato seedling to release the fragrance of summer. Photo by Doug OsterI'll be presenting "Indoor Seed Starting" on Saturday 3/14/15 at 11 a.m. as part of the Spring Fling at Chapon's Greenhouse in Baldwin. The workshop will offer ideas for beginners and cover advanced techniques too. The seminar will also cover organic gardening, early planting secrets and more.

Starting seeds inside is fun and easy, will save you money and give you a chance to grow something different. It's therapeutic to see something go from tiny seed to fruition in just a few short months.

Chapon's Spring Fling offers seminars, sales, garden vendors, food and much more.

I know I'll be leaving with some cool weather crops to put in the garden.

Hope to see you there!

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