Hanging on the inside door knob of my kitchen door is a charming little “Knob Notes” card that will tell the visitor to my home that I'm out in the garden. I'm looking forward to the day (six days till spring) when I can hang it on the front door so my visitors will know where to find me.
In the meantime, the Farmer's Almanac website has some neat tips to help prepare us for getting down-and-dirty in the garden. It also has some tips on what to do with some of our prized vegetables and certain worn items we keep saving but aren't sure what to do with:
•When getting grease stains on our clothes, rub butter or cooking oil on the stain, then wash.
•When getting grass stains on clothes, coat the stain with molasses, rub it in, let it set for a few minutes before washing. Will it work? I'm looking forward to trying it.
•Don't toss those colorful, gently chipped, coffee mugs or cups in the trash — use them for charming little plant containers. Picture cups or old teapots full of flowers edging your front steps. (A pair of favorite very-old shoes can make really interesting containers set as though they were walking through a flower bed.)
•Do you have an old patio table umbrella that you're thinking of tossing? Let the kids put colorful hand prints all over it using outdoor, water-based paints. It will spruce it up for another season and give your children an outdoor project to be proud of.
•Let the children decorate a couple of medium or large containers the same way, and then let them plant flowers or vegetables — whatever they want — in the container. Set those near the table with the umbrella they decorated for a coordinated look.
•Look around your yard, garage or basement and see what can be repurposed for the garden instead of thrown away. Plants aren't picky, as long as they have enough soil for their roots and good drainage.
•Here's an easy way to remember whether to start raw vegetables in cold or boiling water: Vegetables that grow underground (beets, carrots, and potatoes) should start off in cold water. Vegetables that grow above ground (corn, peas, and greens) should be placed in boiling water.
•Give your fresh fruits and vegetables a bath in cold water that has had a cup of apple cider vinegar added. This will help them stay fresh longer in the refrigerator.
•When you are at last able to pick tomatoes fresh from your garden, don't snap or cut them off right at the tomato, keep a length of stem attached — then hang them upside down and they will stay fresh longer. Always store tomatoes at room temperature.
Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to email@example.com. You also can read her What’s Bloomin’ blog at www.news-sentinel.com. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.