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Your guide to Chesaeake Country's freshest produce and more!

Pansies Add Color thru Spring

Here’s how to plant them

Pansies give the garden fall, winter and early spring color. Breeders have provided us with a great array of colorful varieties to choose from. These hearty flowers are one of the few plant species with light- and dark-blue flowers. In addition to solid colors — yellow, brown, purple and reddish-brown — my favorite cultivar, the Pacific Giant, includes blooms with brown monkey faces in their center.
    Pansies grow best in deep, well-drained, organic-rich soil. Incorporating an inch-thick layer of compost just before planting will provide all of the needed nutrients as well as promote good root development. If you have not added lime to the soil during the last three years, add enough lime to make the surface of the soil appear covered with frost.

Don’t Put Asparagus to Bed Too Early

Don’t prune back the asparagus bed until all of the stems have turned yellow. The nitrogen in the stems and leaves is migrating back to the roots and accumulating around the buds that will be producing asparagus spears next spring. If you cut back the stems while they are still green, you will be reducing the yield of next year’s crop.

    Spade or rototill the compost and lime into the soil to a depth of at least four inches before planting.
    Be gentle using fertilizer in place of compost. A heavy application of high-nitrogen fertilizer will lead to large, lush plants with few flowers. This is not a problem when using compost.
    Pansies perform at their best in full sun with limited shade. In the shade, they produce lush plants with few flowers. Afternoon sun is preferred over morning sun.
    Crush the root ball with your hands before planting. Pansies grown in pots develop a profuse root system, so unless the root ball is crushed or partially torn at planting time, they will be slow establishing and will often wilt on warm days even if the soil surrounding the root ball is moist.
    If rabbits are a problem, they can be controlled by sprinkling Repel All around the edges of the beds and between the plants. Apply monthly. Repel All or Hot Sauce Animal Repellent can also be sprayed on the plant. But, as the plant grows, the new growth will not be treated, and rabbits have a tendency to return. This I know from experience. When I developed the Hot Sauce Animal Repellent, I quickly discovered that both deer and rabbits make return trips to eat untreated plants.
    Another strategy is to lay chicken wire over the plants. The plants will raise the chicken wire up as they grow. An 18-inch-tall chicken wire fence around the outside edge of the bed will also keep rabbits out, as rabbits can jump far but not high.