LEWIS & CLARK EXPEDITION 200 YEARS AGO TODAY 12/06/1804

Snow and strong wind greet the Corps of Discovery this morning. Clark reports the temperature to be 10 F. early in the morning. The captains write in their journals how the Indians dress for the cold weather, "bison skin moccasins and pronghorn skin leggs, topped by a bison rope". A fashion statement by today's standards.

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CONTAINER GROWING

Almost all plants may be grown in a container throughout it's entire life. This makes gardening in the winter months more fulfilling and sometimes even a challenge. House plant have been recognized as indoor container plants, but even perennials, annuals, shrubs and trees can be grown in containers.

Growing your plants in containers provides you with a few options that are unavailable to permanent plantings. The flexibility to move the containers around is perhaps the biggest advantage. As the seasons and the sun's position changes, you can move your plant to a sunnier or shady spot to fit the cultural needs of the plant. You will also be able to move plants into the 'limelight' when they come into bloom, or into the background somewhere when they are finished. You will also be able to grow acid loving plants in an area of alkaline soil and vice versa.

Remember: when you are growing plants in pots or planters, that the plants are much more dependent on you to provide their necessities in life. They are in a limited amount of soil, with their roots restricted, and exposed to the elements far more than if they were field grown. It is important for the plant's health that pay close attention to watering and feeding requirements of the plant. Plants in containers will dry out much sooner and need watering more often. To determine when the plant needs watering, stick your finger down into the soil and if is dry water the plant thoroughly. Because frequent watering will wash the plant food out of the soil, and the plant will utilize the limited soil nutrients they will be depleted much more rapidly, so a regular feeding program should be established according to the type of plant. During the growing season, either a slow release type plant food should be used or a soluble complete fertilizer should be used every two weeks. ALWAYS follow the manufacturers recommendations.

Choosing your container

Just about anything that will hold soil may be used as a planter. Ideally, the pot should have a diameter equal to 1/3 to 1/2 the height of the plant. The container must have holes drilled in the bottom to allow excess water to drain away from the soil. The main cause of death to container grown plants is overwatering and consequent drowning. If it impossible to drill the holes you can add a layer of gravel below the soil, but watering must be monitored closely. It may be more appropriate to put your plant into a regular pot and then place it inside your decorative planter. If you are building a planter using wood, use rot resistant wood such as redwood or cedar, and coat the inside with waterproof paint.

The growing medium

The choice of growing medium is extremely important. It must have the capability of holding water, but it must also be porous and drain easily. Commercial potting mixes is recommended. There are many available, but they can vary in quality, so be prepared to add organic materials such as compost or peat moss for moisture retention and course builders sand for drainage.The use of garden soil should be avoided, because of clay content and the risk of insect infestations and soil borne diseases and fungi.ix. A good container mix can be created which consists of one part of rich loam, one part course sand or perlite, and one part peat moss, compost, or other organic matter. If you are growing acid loving plants such as Rhododendrons, Azaleas or Heathers the mix should contain two parts peat moss instead of one.

Repotting

The roots of a plant growing in a container will fill all of the available space and become rootbound eventually. When this occurs the growth of the plant slows and eventually stops altogether. The solution is to repot your plant into a larger container. It is best to transplant into one size larger than previously grown, rather than a jump to a very large pot to accommodate a small plant. Slow-growing plants may require repotting every two to three years, while faster growing plants should be repotted annually.

Water the plant thoroughly several hours before removing it from the container. This will help to remove the roots from the planter more easily, and reduce transplant shock. Invert the plant and tap the rim of the pot on the edge of a table until the root ball slides out of the container. Never pull on the stem of the plant to remove it, rather continue tapping or rolling the pot until until the roots slide out on their own. In extreme cases it may be necessary to cut or break the pot to release the roots.

When the roots grew out and reached the pot, they turned and began growing back into the ball. Once they are part of the mass it is hard for them to reverse direction again. It is necessary to give them a little help to get going on the right track again. Use your finger tips to carefully loosen the roots at the base and along the side of the root ball to allow them to grow into the new soil. If the root ball is extremely knotted and tight, it may be advisable to use a sharp knife and cut some of the entangled roots to separate them by making a 1/8 to 1/4 slice down the side of the root ball or gently, but forcibly separate the base of the ball. Use care not to damage any main 'tap' roots. Before repotting, prune off any dead or damaged roots.

Place a small piece of broken clay pot over any drainage holes in the new planter to keep soil from draining through the hole. If there are no drainage holes, add an inch or two of clean gravel to the bottom of the planter. Add potting mix into the container to a point that when the root ball is set in, it will come to within an inch of the top of the pot. Gently set the plant into the container, center it and face it in the direction which shows off it's beauty. Be certain it is standing straight and begin adding potting mix around the root ball, tamping it lightly until you have filled the gaps and slightly covered the top. Be sure to leave at least 3/4 of an inch at the top of the pot for watering. Water the plant well to get good soil contact with the roots. Air pockets can lead to serious problems. Do not water again until the soil is almost dry.

Help your plant to avoid transplant shock, by gradually bringing it back into full light rather than immediately putting it into full sun. Keep it in a warm area for a few days. Adding a soluble transplant fertilizer or rooting hormone to the water will help the roots recover and begin growing again sooner.

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THE BENEFITS OF BEING A SENIOR CITIZEN.

* Kidnappers are not very interested in you.
* In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.
* No one expects you to run into a burning building.
* People call at 9 p.m. and ask, "Did I wake you?"
* People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.
* There's nothing left to learn the hard way.
* Things you buy now won't wear out.
* You can eat dinner at 4:00 p.m.
* You enjoy hearing about other people's operations.
* You get into a heated argument about pension claims.
* You have a party and the neighbors don't even realize it.
* You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.
* You quit trying to hold your stomach in, no matter who walks into the room.
* You sing along with the elevator music.
* Your eyes won't get much worse.
* Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.
* Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the National Weather Service.
* Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.
* Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manageable size.
* You can't remember where you read this list!
* Greenscape Gardens has senior gardening discounts on Wednesday.