Anything Over Four Not So Lucky
I never gave much thought to four-leaf clovers, except as a youngster when I tried to find them growing wild in weedy fields.
As an adult, I realize that clover has a history and can be grown as a farm crop as well for feeding livestock. When used as a ground cover, white and red clover is a great alternative during crop rotation. The nutritious plant is pollinated by bees. The plant provides calcium, phosphorus and protein and is used as food by the larvae of butterflies and moths. Clover automatically feeds nitrogen into the soil and is a forage crop.
Clover is a genus of 300 species. They are small annual, biennial or short-lived perennial herbaceous plants with densely colored spikes of yellow, purple or white flowers. We equate the shamrock during this time of year with the traditional Irish symbol of the clover, associated with St. Patrick's Day. The shamrock is a three-leaf white clover.
Clover is known to have five or more leaves. And it is said that the more leaves of the clover, the more unlucky for the owner. The most leaves ever recorded is an amazing number of 56, which was found in 2009 and recorded in the "Guinness Book of Records."
Four-leaf clovers are a variation of the three-leaf clover. It is said that there are approximately 10,000 three-leaf clovers for every one four-leaf clover. Scientists agree that clovers can be genetically or environmentally altered. Amazingly, there are farms in the U.S. that specialize in four-leaf clovers, producing as many as 10,000 per day. These are sold as lucky charms. A five-leaf clover may even be luckier than a four-leaf one, some think, but they too, have been cultivated.
Perhaps the best way to enjoy clover is to visit the local nursery and find a clover plant that has been grown from scratch. Or take a walk and discover your own patch of clover in a field. If you're lucky enough to find a four-leaf clover, just cherish it and know that you are one of the luckiest founders of a rare and natural plant.
There is a lot of gardening preparation this time of year. Here are some tips.
n Clean up the garden and the tools before beginning any further action.
n Add mulch around shrubs and trees to about 6 inches.
n Fertilize fescue lawns at one pound nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
n Clean old pots via sterilization. Scrub bird feeders for new nesting families.
n Prune woody ornamentals such as butterfly bush and hydrangea.
n Start a seasonal journal and begin reading garden books.
n Plan and design a new garden bed on paper.
n Exchange seeds with garden club members and neighbors.
n Plant vegetables from seed.
n Use additives and amendments once you have the soil analyzed.
n Divide and replant clumps.
n Cut, trim and saw any shrub or tree that has outgrown the garden space and has become scraggly in the landscape.
n Begin a compost bin.
n Feed the birds and clean the pond areas.
n Get rid of all dead, diseased or damaged shrubs, plants, trees and vines.
n Read about and begin water conservation practices.
n Begin a sustainable garden, which can grow in the future.
n Keep in touch with the county extension agent for your questions and needs. Use the free services of Master Gardeners and visit facilities for horticultural information as symposiums, clubs and educational activities.
Contact freelance writer Anita Stone at email@example.com.
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