Exercise and harden before going out

Green thumbs up

to exercise that mimics gardening

Out of shape aches and pains can spoil the first month of gardening. Avoid that by mimicking something you do outdoors to practice that motion in advance.

We have a 20 pound granddaughter we can cart around. We tell her to "Sit" and then pretend she's the big old hosta we're wrestling out of the ground and up into a wheelbarrow. The trick is to lift her using our legs, not our backs.

We've also done laps around the house pushing in front of us wheelie luggage loaded with plant catalogs -- a warm up to our wheelbarrowing form. Another approach is to loosen up the raking muscles and harden the blister-prone areas of our hands by using a broom to sweep a rug rather than running the vacuum.

Green thumbs down

to whisking forced bulbs straight outdoors

People ask: Can I plant this pot of gift bulbs out into the garden?


Sure, but it's "snow go" if you just move them straight to the cold from the warm. If they have only just finished blooming then they have not finished forming next year's bulb. The bulb needs foliage to provide the photosynthetic energy that goes into a new bulb. Set it out without hardening it off and you will pretty certainly kill the leaves.


Right: If a hardy bulb plant looks like this, it is probably a goner. Makes no difference if it's planted in the ground or in a pot -- although in-ground bulbs are less likely to be hit so hard since they are in-tune with the weather and not so far above ground when this level of cold is still occurring.

If your bulb plants look like this, let the cold pass and check again. If the leaves are still limp and mushy, they're of no use to the plant. Cut all that top growth away. If afterward some little bit of greenery emerges, it may keep the bulb alive to begin rebuilding. It can take a bulb a year or more to rebuild after an early cut-down.