A Gardener’s Diary: The robins are singing

Gardening columnist Jocelyne Sewell writes her 100th column for The Morning Star and celebrates the early arrival of spring

Welcome to my 100th column about gardening. I don’t know where the time has gone but it seems I just started last month. Snow is going away very fast and in our back yard, even in the shady part, it is gone. I started some clean-up already but some of the ground is still to wet to work with. We have clay and it takes awhile to dry until the next step, when it gets hard as concrete.

Some of the beds, however, are getting much lighter with the addition of compost over the years. It makes a big difference as the soil warms up faster, therefore ready to plant earlier.

With the beautiful days we’ve had, I have transferred many seedlings in the greenhouse for a few hours until the sun goes down. They are still too tender to stay there overnight but all the trouble is worth it.

In the morning, I don’t need a light anymore when I walk the dog. On a clear day, you can see daylight just after 6 a.m. The robins are all over and chirping joyfully and you can also hear the pheasants on the hills. They all tell me spring is just around the corner and it is gardening time. I just found my first crocus open on the 18th.

Someone enquired about ways to fight ants and pill bugs on their strawberry plants in the summer. The following is taken from the pestcontrolcanada.com site. Also on the site, you can find just about any type of bugs you might encounter in your garden with the definition about it. Very interesting.

Sow bugs are land crustaceans which look very similar to pillbugs. Their back consists of a number of overlapping, articulating plates. They have seven pairs of legs and antennae which reach about half the body length. The pillbug has a rounder back, and a deeper body. When disturbed it frequently rolls into a tight ball, with its legs tucked inside, much like its larger but dissimilar counterpart, the armadillo.

Sowbugs have gills which need constant moisture. They are primarily nocturnal and eat decaying leaf litter and vegetable matter. They also feed on the tips of young plants, so can be considered pests, but they also help the environment by breaking up decaying plant matter and help speed up the recycling of the nutrients they contain.

To keep them away from your plants you have to remove excess vegetation and debris. They like to hide under wood planks and dead leaves. Remember, if you don’t solve the moisture problem, the bugs will return no matter what chemicals you use, or how much you use them.

I remove them by hand or squish them with my feet where possible. The ones in the compost bins have a longer life as I don’t bother with them. As for the ants on plants, usually they are there with aphids. Get rid of aphids and they may go away, too.

Don’t forget the Enderby seed exchange on March 5 at the Splatsin Community Centre, starting at 10 a.m. Come and say hello. I will be there with seeds and plants.

For more information: 250-558-4556 plantlady1@shaw.ca

Jocelyne Sewell is an organic gardening enthusiast in the North Okanagan and member of Okanagan Gardens & Roses Club. Her column appears every other Wednesday.