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Be thankful for what you have. Your life, no matter how bad you think it is, is someone else’s fairytale.” — Wade Ayeni

We have a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day. We may have trials in our life and despair, but when I think of what is happening in this world to people in other lands I am grateful to live here.

My Thanksgiving dinner is mostly from my garden. The beans, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes are all from the garden. I did not raise the turkey but some of my friends did. I could not raise a turkey, duck or chicken, and then eat it. My problem is that I make a pet out of all my animals. All of my baking is putting my duck eggs to good use.

If you received a gift of mums for Thanksgiving, take good care of them over the winter and they will probably bloom again in the spring. I usually cut mine back after it has finished blooming, put it in a sunny window and replant it outdoors in April. I always have a mum blooming in spring.

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The reason mums do this is that mums need the long nights and short days to bloom. Spring day and night length is the same as fall. The length of light and dark is important to many plants including poinsettia and Christmas cactus. The need for a specific number of hours of darkness is called photoperiodism.

Photoperiodism influences many activities in plants including seed growth, flowering and fruit development, and the onset of winter. Plants actually “measure” the duration of darkness rather than light. Plants that need 10 to 12 hours of darkness are called short day plants. The long day plants are many of our common vegetables such as beets, radishes, spinach and potatoes. Onions bulb starting about July 1 because the days are about 14 hours long. Other plants such as dill, aster, fuchsia, sweet pea and rudbeckia are more examples of long day plants. Some plants do not care about day length but will respond to temperature, humidity and how mature they are. These are called neutral.

When we buy plants from a nursery, the plants were probably grown in a greenhouse. The growers control the light and temperature to make plants bloom so we can see the flowers and purchase them. It is interesting to note that an accidental light shone on a poinsettia just for a few seconds will prevent it from blooming. If certain short day plants are planted under outdoor lights and they do not bloom, the light could be the problem. An example is hyacinth bean planted under a lamppost. Vegetables that we do not want to flower should be planted early or later in the season. These would include basil, radish, lettuce and spinach, which is why we call them cool season crops or a better name would be short season crops.

Contact Phyllis Both by email at or by telephone on Monday mornings at the Sauk County UW-Extension office, 608-355-3253.