Presidents’ Points March 2021

Spring. March 20th.

That seems hard to believe doesn’t it? But here it comes and it’s time to get ready! Although it’s too soon to start most seeds, there are a few exceptions. One of my early starts is caladiums. They take so long to get going because they like warm soil, so that’s what I give them.

Deciding when to plant is based on the last frost date. You can find our frost date here:

To summarize, the Illinois State Climatologist Office shows that 50% of the time our last frost is between April 21 and April 30. If you want to be a little more conservative, 90% of the time our last frost occurs between May 11 and 20. That is considered our average last frost date. There is practically never a frost after May 31. So choose how much you want to gamble! 

With that in mind here is a seed starting calculator for you. Just put in the last frost date you think we’ll have and you can find out when to start your seeds. But there are some that need to be started very early. Using a May 20th frost date, onion seeds, parsley, leeks and pansies all should be started right now (or anytime since mid-February).

Next month we’ll discuss seed starting, soil temperatures and other things to consider for planting in greater detail. We’ll also highlight some new plants you might want try.

In this month’s newsletter we are discussing early spring pruning, but as I’m writing this, my trees and shrubs are covered in snow—lots of snow. So, I’m going to focus on our fine feathered friends outside.   My husband and I feed “our” birds (I’m kind of possessive) all year through all seasons, but we are a little more attentive in the winter. In Beth’s Corner you will find two recipes for simple make-at-home suet cakes and a quick and easy birdhouse.

To me–March is Irish, so I’ve included a recipe for Irish Apple Cake. We find all kinds of recipes for Irish stew and corned beef and cabbage for St Patrick’s Day, but not many Irish desserts. Since it’s still cold, I’m adding an easy, peasy recipe for tomato soup.

Next month we’ll be talking a little bit about seed starting, but I want to mention a few seeds that need to be started before that time. Using a May 20th frost date, onion seeds should be started from February 11 to March 4 for the plants to be ready to be planted outdoors by May 20th. Leeks, parsley and pansies should be planted from February 25 to March 11, and celery seeds from March 4th.  Enjoy the recipes and have fun with the projects.