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CAROL'S CORNER - Current Observations for the month......
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    I can modestly report that in early February I received my first fan letter and accompanying gift.  What a treat!  Thank you Luella Danielson from Chaparral, N M who sent me a gift of cuttings from her Easter Cactus, which had over 200 blossoms on it the last time she looked.  This unnamed variety has a history; it  was first acquired by her mother in the 1930's and Luella took the time to send me some cuttings along with a nice instructional letter.  Thanks Luella, it arrived in fine condition and the cuttings are in water as you suggested.

    March is the teaser month.  One day is sunny and you can almost see the snow receding from the lawn.  You're tempted to go outside and start some early spring chores, then the next hour the clouds roll in and it seems winter is about to return.  In fact, the weather is so unpredictable, that some years the first day of spring comes with heavy storm warnings and wind.

    But there are lots of signs that spring is near.  The sparrows and finch who stayed the winter in our backyard brush pile are choosing their nesting houses already.  And this week we spotted a robin and a family of flickers frolicking in the front yard.  Plus, the lead escort starlings have arrived to sample our suet in the back yard.  Soon they'll bring the whole flock and we won't be able to feed them fast enough.

    Now, for the fun stuff.  Starting seed indoors can be very rewarding.  I've compiled a start up list for our area, based on our average last frost.  When I put this together several years ago, our average last frost was May 27th in Missoula and May 24th in Hamilton.  Generally we have about 111 frost free days.  Of course, these dates can vary as any good gardener knows.  So here's the plan I put together:
    About mid February:                            About March 4th                                  About March 18
    Dahlias for cuttings                                Lupine seed                                           Pepper-75-80 deg
    Petunia seed, 70 deg, light                     Spinach seed-65 deg, light                      Chrysanthemum
    Pansy seed, 70 deg, dark                       Lettuce seed -65 deg, light                      Flowering Kale      

    Cannas - in pot, low water                       Onion seed                                            Cauliflower
    Begonia - in pot, no water                       Amaranthus                                           Scabiosa
                                                                Cockscomb                                           Salvia
                                                                Coreopsis                                              Lobelia
                                                                Ageratum                                              Brussel Sprouts
                                                                Lavender                                               Tomato-70-75 deg
                                                                Bachelor Button                                     Cabbage
                                                                Scabiosa                                               Begin to harden:
                                                                Alyssum - 65 deg, light                           onion, spinach, lettuce
                     
     
    8 weeks or about April 1 start:

    Onion plants outdoors 
    Radish outdoors 
    Morning glory seed outdoors (soak overnight first)                                    

    Spinach plants outdoors (if they've been hardened)
    Broccoli seed 
    Pepper seed
    Snapdragon
    Tomato Seed
    Geranium cuttings inside
    Marjoram
    Cardinal Climber

    We'll continue this schedule next month when you can start putting a lot of this stuff outdoors, provided that you have had time to prepare the ground.

    Talk to you next month.

    Carol Addeo