Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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November 16, 2012

DIRT ON GARDENING: Want to save your favorite plant? There is a way

GOSHEN — Did you have a favorite plant this year or in a past year that you just couldn’t get enough of? This often is the case and we hate to give it up at season end. It had perfect blooms with magnificent foliage and thrived and expanded better than all the other plants.

We all have our favorites and try each year to expand on the particular beauty of a specimen, but sometimes there is that one you just marvel at.

Sure, you can wait until the following year in hopes to find that same plant, or you can take cuttings and carry them through the winter months so that when spring arrives you’ll be prepared to transplant them into your favorite pot, urn or garden.

While perennials can survive in freezing weather by mulching them heavily, annuals and plants that are out of our planting zones (zones 5 and 5 1/2) unfortunately must be removed to the indoors in order for them to survive.

Normally by year’s end most of our annuals and perennials have grown much too large to be moved. That leaves us to the next best thing — making cuttings.

Now I’m not at all suggesting you make cuttings of all your annuals and perennials, only a “special” plant or two that you hate to give up. It’s relatively easy to do and offers you a wintertime project to keep your thumb green.

Some initial precautions will gain you the best results. A sterile razor works best to take an angled cut 3 to 4 inches from the tips of tendrils. Remove the bottom leaves by pinching or snapping them off and leaving three or four leaves. Plunge the stem into a planting medium that consists of finely ground peat, perlite and sand, or purchase a product meant for this purpose. Then water generously and cover with clear plastic, creating a tent by placing sticks in the medium to keep it off the growing plants. Make certain there is adequate drainage in the container.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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