April in New England is maddening. The snow is mostly gone and most of the ground is thawed. Unfortunately, other than pruning and picking up the debris of winter, gardening outdoors is out of the question.
Unless you have a greenhouse or well protected cold frames, the twenty degree temperatures over night will break your enthusiasm for attempting to plant much this time of year.
I recently popped into a "discount" big box store in the area to survey their wares. Not much of the merchandise was of interest to me until I saw a row of boxes displaying spring bulbs, rhizomes, and corms. There was a large selection of caladiums, gladiolus, dahlias, lilies, etc. I am not a snob when it comes to plants, but purchasing them from an unknown source, with no idea how long they have been on the shelf is a risk I usually don't take. Today was different.
Given that it was cold and snow flurries were coming down, no hope of warm weather anytime soon and the general gloom of the day, I decided to purchase a few bags on the cheap. What caught my eye were Rudebekia and Liatris. Grown out by nurseries these plants can cost upwards of $14.00 each. The enticing little bags were only $2.50 for 6 and 12 respectfully. I was hooked.
I made my purchase and traveled home.
My first challenge was that I had only small pots and seed trays in my basement. Trudging threw the remaining snow to the garden shed yielded a few bigger pots and old plastic window boxes.
The second challenge was where to put these pots so that they were warm and received adequate light. The solution was to place them on the floor in a quirky alcove in my kitchen during the night and to move to the enclosed kitchen porch during the day. The amount of direct sunlight is only about 5 hours each day, but I realized that if they were established plants in my garden they would not be getting much more than that anyway.
After a week 4 of the 6 Rudbekia are showing signs of life. As for the Liatris, I am still waiting.
Besides trying to keep these pots warm, keeping the soil moist is important. Hopefully, my "April Challenge" on the cheap will produce a few extra plants.
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