Gray, Lazy Days...
There are days like today that I like to
go upstairs and lie down for awhile.
It is cold and gray outside and I can feel the chill in the air
sitting here at my desk. A year or two ago I might have felt
guilty about taking time out of the day to rest. When I talk
about rest it may not be physical sleep. It might be resting
quietly, snuggling up with a good book or catching up on taped
shows. You might call it a bit of nothingness that allows me to
catch up so that I can continue on with the rest of my day
feeling refreshed both physically and mentally. If you are not
giving yourself some much deserved quiet
time you should give it a try - it is great for the soul.
yesterday's rather warm Valentine's Day we are back to the
winter weather that is typical for this time of year. It looks
as if starting tomorrow we will experience low temperatures in
the teens. If you have flowering bulbs that have actually
started to bloom I suggest you cut them and bring them inside.
If you insist that they stay outside then you will want to make
sure to cover them. You may use old blankets, pots and plastic
(as long as it is not directly touching the plant). Just make
sure that you remove whatever you used
as a cover once the temperature starts
A Jump On Spring...
Savvygardeners know that getting a jump on spring growing
means tricking Mother Nature a little. Cold frames and hotbeds
are the best way to do it. These nifty devices allow you to get
your seedlings in the ground weeks earlier than normal. That
means earlier growth, earlier harvest, earlier eating! Learn
how they work (and how to build them) in our feature article,
Cold Frames & Hotbeds.
Get an even bigger jump on spring this
month. What you can and should be doing now:
- Sow the seeds of larkspur, sweet peas and snapdragons
where they are to grow outdoors. For best bloom, these
plants must sprout and begin growth well before warm weather
- Start seeds of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts
and cabbage indoors, late in the month, for transplanting
into the garden later this spring. Start onion seed indoors
- Daring gardeners can take a chance on sowing peas,
lettuce, spinach and radish. If the weather stays mild, you
will be rewarded with extra early harvests.
Check stored cannas, dahlias, and gladiolus for rot and
shriveling. Cannas, and dahlias can
be spritzed with water if they appear to be drying up, or you
can add a few drops of water to wood shavings, sawdust, or peat
moss and store them in this material to help them remain viable
until spring. Check gladiolus that
are stored in the open air for signs of mold or decay.
Discard all corms that have black
spots or gummy brown spots at the base.
Cracking The Code...
Savvygardeners buying seeds from a catalog can be forgiven if
they are confused by all the codes and abbreviations that
accompany a seed packet. These important notes differ with the
plant and should be explained in good seed catalogs. For
example, here is an explanation of the abbreviations used to
describe a tomato cultivar:
(F1) V FF N T A (I) 60 days
- 'Quick Pick' = the cultivar name
- (F1) = the
plant is a first generation hybrid
- V = resistant to Verticillium Wilt
- FF = resistant to both strains of Fusarium
- N = resistant to nematodes
- T = resistant to Tobacco
- A = resistant to Alternaria or Crown Wilt
- (I) =
an Indeterminate or vining growth pattern as opposed to a
Determinate or bush habit.
- 60 = this cultivar typically
requires 60 days after transplanting to produce a crop. This
is an approximate period that is influenced by local weather
these and other abbreviations will be listed and explained in
good seed catalogs. Take time to pay attention to them as they
can be very important to the success of your garden crop!
It's time to prune certain types of
clematis. These can be a confusing group of plants to prune,
since they are not all pruned the same way. Most large-flowered
varieties bloom in mid-June on short stems from the previous
season's growth and often again in late summer on new growth.
Prune them in February or March by removing dead and weak stems,
then cut back the remaining stems to the topmost pair of large,
plump green buds. This cut could be six inches to 18 inches
from the stem tips. Varieties in this group include:
Duchess of Edinburgh
Fungus gnats are small insects (1/8 to
1/10 inch long) that are common in moist high-organic matter
houseplant soils. Though the adults are mosquito-like in
appearance, they do not bother humans or pets. It is actually
the larvae or maggots that can injure plants by feeding on the
roots. Symptoms include sudden wilting, loss of vigor, poor
growth or yellowing of leaves. Use of sterile media and avoiding
overwatering can help prevent infestations. Existing
infestations can be controlled with pyrethrins such as
bifenthrin (Ortho Rose & Flower Insect Killer) or Bacillus
thuringiensis v. israelensis (Gnatrol).
Trees For Birds...
If bird feeding has been a favorite
activity this winter, order trees and shrubs that provide cover
and small fruits for your feathered friends. Consider species
such as crabapple, hawthorn, holly, dogwood, and pyracantha that
can help lure hungry birds from cultivated fruits, if planted on
the opposite side of the yard.
"Late February days;
and now at least,
Might you have thought that
Winter's Woe was past;
So fair the sky was and so soft the air."