This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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Seeds Indoors
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~ Seed Starting Tomatoes


Shrub Pruning Calendar
~ Pruning Clematis 
~ Gardening in the Shade
~ Summer-Flowering Bulb Care
~ Drought-Tolerant Flowers for KC
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~ When to Divide Perennials
~ Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials
~ Forcing Bulbs Indoors
~ Overseeding A Lawn
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~ Pruning Shrubs
~ Planting Trees
~ Deer Resistant Plants
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~ Stump Removal Options for the Homeowner
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February 15, 2006

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.

Well after 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 to rise.

~ Shelly  

Getting 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 Jumping Some More...
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 arrives.
  • 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 now.
  • 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.


Checking In...
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.


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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:

'Quick Pick' (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 Wilt
  • N = resistant to nematodes
  • T = resistant to Tobacco Mosaic Virus
  • 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 conditions.

Remember, 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!


Cutting Clematis...
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:

Nelly Moser Duchess of Edinburgh Henryi
Miss Bateman Mrs. Cholmondeley Elsa Spaeth
Lasurstern Dr. Ruppel General Sikorski

Fungus Gnats...
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."

~ William Morris

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