Proctor: Shamrocks and potatoes

KUSA - Shamrocks and potatoes are synonymous with Ireland. The trouble is that potatoes are native to South America and the plants sold as shamrocks are really oxalis and originated in Central America. They're not even related to shamrocks.

It doesn't really matter but it's time to plant potatoes. And those fake "shamrocks" make great houseplants and may also be enjoyed in patio pots once the threat of frost has passed.

For gardeners on the Front Range, St. Patrick's Day also denotes the true beginning of the planting season. Within just a few weeks, we need to get our cool season crops in the ground. Some of us started even earlier but it's time to seed the vegetables and herbs that develop only in the cool weather of spring. They are all frost tolerant, but sheets or polypropylene row covers can be used for protection if severe cold threatens again. Pots of vegetables can, of course, be hauled inside if necessary.

Put peas, potatoes, spinach and lettuce at the top of your list, followed by chard, kale, cabbage, parsley, cilantro and other leafy greens, as well as beets, radish, turnips, carrots, onions, shallots and other root crops.

On the patio and in flower beds, early colorful plants to brighten your outdoor living spaces include pansies, primroses, ornamental kale, snapdragons and dianthus.

If you buy primroses, I recommend the 'Supernova' series, with bright blossoms in yellow, purple, pink, magenta or orange. The flowers are held on "drumsticks" above the leaves. If kept deadheaded and fertilized with a bloom booster, they will bloom well into June. Plant them in the shade garden after that since they are perennial.

Now is also the time to patch or re-seed your lawn. Turf grass also grows and develops best during cool weather. Keep the seeds constantly moist during germination, which may mean checking them several times each day.

Plants are courtesy of Tagawa Gardens.


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