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January 18, 2006

Signs Of Life?
So, how's your garden looking? Have you noticed any signs of life? If you have been out looking then I am sure that you have noticed some plants have already started their awakening. The unusually warm weather we've been experiencing is playing havoc with our plants. Warm, cold, warm again. Mother Nature is trying to trick us. We will not fall prey to her old song and dance - getting us to believe that spring is closer than we think. In fact, this warmer weather leads me to believe that March and April will be cooler than usual. But what do I know? I try to guess every year and am constantly outsmarted by the 'ole gal. For now I will revel in the days I can be outside and will continuously look at the date on the calendar to help guide me.

To keep your plants from heaving (keeping the crowns of the plant at soil level) keep your gardens covered with mulch or leaves. Both of these materials will provide an extra layer of warmth to help stabilize the grounds temperature. It is far too early to start removing any type of mulch you placed on the garden to protect it during the winter. The additional layers will need to be removed once the last frost date has finally passed which is typically mid April.

~ Shelly  

Pruning Primer...
If you take advantage of winter to get some pruning done remember that when pruning large limbs, always undercut first.  This means cut from the bottom up, one-third of the way through the limb, then finish by cutting from the top.  The undercut keeps the limb from splitting and breaking off, which could damage the trunk and become an entryway for insects and diseases.  Also, don't cut flush to the trunk.  The collar or enlarged base of a branch produces hormones that help heal wounds.

All America Selections...
Each year the All-America Selection organization selects the best new flowers and vegetables based on carefully controlled trials across North America.  This is a great resource for discovering new and interesting flowers and vegetables for your garden.  We have posted this year's AAS winners on our website.

Jade In The Shade?
Many Savvygardeners grow Jade plants because of their tolerance for low light conditions.  However, while jade will survive in low light, it needs as much direct sunlight as possible to look its best.  Insufficient light will cause your jade plant to lose most of its old, thick leaves and grow thin, new ones on spindly stems.  Not a good trade-off if you ask me.


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Savvy Citrus Crop?
Here's a mid-winter project that is sure to be fun for Savvygardeners of all ages - grow plants from citrus fruit seeds.  Store-bought oranges, grapefruits, lemons and tangerines, may have viable seeds.  Try germinating them in a light, potting-soil mixture containing half peat moss.  Keep the seeds well watered and in a warm location.  If seedlings fail to appear in six weeks, try again with new seeds.  Citrus plants grown from seeds generally will not produce flowers or fruit, but they do have attractive shiny-leaved foliage.

Be Savvy, Not Soggy...
Overwatering is a common problem with houseplants.  Remember, most indoor plants should not be watered until the soil feels dry.  Water thoroughly, let the water soak in, then water again until water drains into the saucer.  Empty the saucer within an hour.

Pelleted Perfection...
You may find yourself perusing a seed catalog and come across something called pelleted seed.  Some mail order seed companies offer pelleted seed of lettuce, carrot, and a few other small-seeded crops.  Pelleted seed is like any other seed except that it has a special coating that makes it larger.  While almost anyone will appreciate the convenience of larger seeds it is especially valuable for children and gardeners with arthritic hands, weak eyesight, or poor coordination.  When using pelleted seed, plant in moist soil and keep it moist as the coating has to dissolve before the seed can germinate.

Heave, Ho...
We've seen some interesting swings in temperatures lately.  While most of us appreciate the days above freezing, our plants may be less than thrilled.  The freezing and thawing of the ground can force shallow-rooted plants out of the soil.  This is called "heaving" and should not be a problem if you mulched well at the onset of winter.  If you see any signs of heaving among your plantings simply replant any that have heaved and mulch with 2 inches of organic material.  Those leaves that seem to linger all season are perfect!

"My good hoe as it bites the ground revenges my wrongs, and I have less lust to bite my enemies. In smoothing the rough hillocks, I smooth my temper."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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