of the Week
Bring It On!
Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney Phil will crawl out
of his hole while we anxiously wait to see if there
are going to be six
more weeks of winter. I am going to make a prediction and say
that he is going to see his shadow. Due to the extremely mild
weather we had in January we will certainly be made to suffer
through some real Midwest winter weather before spring arrives.
Hopefully Phil will see his shadow. Six
more weeks of the weather we've had recently?
I say "Bring it on!"
I know that
many of you are champing at the bit to
get out and get some work done. Go for it.
I worked outside all day yesterday -
raking, cutting back dead foliage,
etc... It was great! Keep in mind that
it is still too early to remove any leaves or mulch you have
covering your beds. I always keep my beds covered until at least
mid-April. Better to be safe than
sorry. There is always plenty of clean-up to do,
so do it now. Take advantage of the weather and get a jump on
getting your gardens in order. Don't forget to water. We have not
had much moisture lately so a good soaking would be a good idea.
If January's mild (let's call it warm)
weather has some of your bulbs making a premature entrance into
the winter world, you're not alone
There's not much you can do about it - once they're up, they're
not going back in. Unfortunately we will very likely get whacked
with some really cold weather between now and April. You
can help your early risers by mulching them with leaves or other
loose organic material. Don't over worry either, as long as
the bulbs aren't flowering yet they will likely survive a freeze
and even flower this spring!
Groundhog Day, February 2nd, is a popular tradition in the United
States. It is also a legend that traverses centuries, its origins
clouded in the mists of time with ethnic cultures and animals
awakening on specific dates. It is on this day that the Groundhog
comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his
shadow. If he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks
of bad weather and returns to his hole. If the day is cloudy
(and, therefore, shadowless) he takes it as a sign of spring and
stays above ground. The groundhog tradition stems from similar
beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early
Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have
the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even
then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that
day was important. According to an old English song:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.
Seed Starting Savvy...
It's getting to be seed starting time
around here. Depending on how adventurous you are there are
seeds to start indoors now and many, many more to start in the
weeks to come. Need some help getting started? We've got two
very handy (and popular) articles that you might enjoy:
Valentine's Day Looks Rosy...
Valentine's Day is fast approaching. If
you are giving or getting potted miniature roses
we have some tips to keep them looking great.
Start by providing the plant with as
much sun as you possibly can.
Keep it cool. Avoid
temperatures above 75°F and never place your rose near a heat
- Keep the humidity
high by placing it on a tray of pebbles filled with water.
- Remove faded
blossoms and turn the plant frequently to counteract its
tendency to reach for sunlight.
- Monitor it
carefully for spider mites and discourage mite infestation by
giving your rose a shower in the bathtub every two weeks.
- When warmer
weather arrives in April, you can plant your
valentine gift in a sunny position in your garden or
move it to a larger container to add color to a corner of your
deck or patio.
Thank Heaven For
This time of year many Savvygardeners turn their attention to
houseplants. It's not the same as gardening outside during the
other three seasons but it's gardening nonetheless. Repeated
requests for information on houseplant care (cleaning,
fertilizing, containers, and light requirements) have prompted us
to post an informative article on
Houseplant Care. Find it in our
Appropriate Use Of Force...
One of the great winter pleasures is forcing the stems of
certain woody plants into bloom for indoor display. Three of the
easiest are forsythia, pussy willow and flowering quince. These
plants have now gone through enough cold weather to satisfy their
chilling requirement and should bloom if given the right
day that is above freezing for collecting branches for blooming.
Cut the stems, keeping the stem length to 3 feet or less and
place them in a bucket of water. Once you have all the branches
you want, bring them into the house and soak them in warm water
for several hours to ensure that the stems and buds are fully
hydrated (a bathtub works well for this). Next, place them in a
container that has a warm preservative solution and place them in
an environment with high humidity and plenty of light. Floral
preservatives accomplish two functions; they prevent bacterial
growth in your water and provide nutrients and energy for the
life processes of the plants.
forsythia will take about 9 days to flower, quince will require
between 12 to 20, and pussy willow needs from 5 to 15 days. The
time required will vary depending on your indoor conditions and
how late in the winter the branches were collected with less time
being required for later collections. Most woody plants will
remain in flower for about a week before the blooms start to
With the rise of deer populations, damage
to landscapes has increased because of browsing. However, deer
have preferences and will avoid some plant species if more
desirable food is available. K-State Extension has given us this
short list of plants deer normally do not bother. Remember
that feeding habits can shift due to changes in food supply.
Also, some deer may have different preferences than most of the
Trees: Blue Spruce and Russian Olive
Shrubs: Barberry, Boxwood, Redosier Dogwood, Yew, Russian
Olive, Rose of Sharon, European Privet
Annuals, Perennials and Bulbs: Yarrow, Ageratum, Columbine,
Snapdragon, Lily of the Valley, Purple Cornflower, Daylily,
Lavender, Sweet Alyssum, Daffodil, Russian Sage, Marigold,
Lamb's Ears, Thyme, and Yucca.
beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where
Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul
~ John Muir