Out And About...
Last week when I was typing my editorial it was sleeting
outside and as they predicted, the
snow began to fall. We ended up with about 6 inches. The kids
loved it! They were happy to be out of school and happier to be
outside despite the bitter cold. Today it is sunny and the ice
and snow are slowly melting away. The brief warm up we are
experiencing sure feels great. It is nice to see the green grass
again. It sounds as if we will be having mild temperatures for
the weekend. A good thing - we still need to put up our
I was the
guest speaker Tuesday for the Central Exchange women's group and
I had such a lovely time. I have spoken for them before so it
was nice to see some familiar faces and to meet some new ones as
well. What a delightful group. I talked about how Kevin and I
started our little business and then we shared stories and
information about our own gardens. I can't think of anything
more fun considering it was way too cold to be outside. If you
can't be in your garden you might as well be talking and sharing
your thoughts with other gardeners. That is what keeps people
like myself from going crazy in the winter. So if you are
feeling a bit cooped up, take in a lecture, get a good gardening
magazine and dream about your gardening space. It will make you
feel better about the gray, cold sky and the snow on the ground.
Nature's Drip Irrigation?
A great benefit of that white stuff
on the ground is its slow release of moisture into the soil. It may not be a
lot of water but because it melts slowly into the soil it can be
a more effective irrigator than a hard rain. You can even
increase the benefit by shoveling sidewalk and driveway snow to
areas of the garden that will eventually benefit from the added
moisture. Just make sure the shoveled snow doesn't contain any
salty or chemical de-icers.
Preventing Snow Mold...
last week's snow probably caught some Savvygardeners off guard. Many still had a fair amount of
unraked leaves on the ground and they are now covered with 4-6
inches of white stuff. First on your "to do" list once the
snow melts - rake up those leaves. It's just not healthy
for the turf to have wet leaves smothering it all winter.
Snow mold is the most likely possibility and it is best avoided.
What Snowmelt Reveals...
In Kansas City a November/December snowfall doesn't usually stick
around long. Keep an eye on
the melting progress.
Those areas of your garden and lawn that melt first reveal warmer
microclimates that could serve as places to grow marginal
perennials that otherwise might not be hardy enough for our Zone
Put Your Mower
If you are
done mowing for the year, be sure to service your mower before
putting it away.
the gas tank of gasoline powered engines or use a gasoline
stabilizer. Untreated gasoline can become thick and gummy.
A few drops of oil
squirted inside the spark plug hole (after you remove the spark
plug) will help lubricate the cylinder.
While you have the
spark plug removed, replace it with a new one.
If your equipment has a
battery, clean the battery terminals of any
corrosion that may have occurred during the season. A
wire-bristle brush is a good tool for doing this.
The battery can then be
removed or connected to a battery monitor that will keep it
charged over winter.
If you remove the
battery, be sure to store it in a protected location for the
winter season (a cool basement works best).
Wind Damage To Evergreens...
Cold winter winds can cause injury to
evergreens. Needles and leaves of evergreens may become
discolored or develop a bleached out appearance, especially on
windy sites. "Winter burn" is caused by the wind blowing over
leaf surfaces and drawing water out of the plant, desiccating the
plant tissue. Locations in full sun tend to fare worse. To
protect plants, be sure soil is evenly moist up until freeze.
During a dry fall, you may need to water up until the ground
freezes. You may also want to consider protecting plants by
wrapping them in burlap or putting up some sort of barrier to
break the wind. Another option is the anti desiccant spray. These
are available from your local nursery or garden center. Anti
desiccant sprays create an invisible film on the leaf surface
that reduces the amount of water lost to the wind and sun. If you
choose to try an anti desiccant, be sure to read and follow the
Getting A Handle On
If you're thinking about buying garden tools as gifts for
that special gardener make sure you choose them carefully.
Getting the basics right can be the difference between a tool
that helps the gardener versus one that frustrates.
- The right tool starts with a good grip. For starters, it
should be pliable and non-slip. A pliable, soft grip will
protect your joints and help keep your hand from cramping. A
non-slip handle means you don't have to waste energy hanging
onto the tool.
Handles - Tools with longer handles will make it easier to
garden by saving you from bending over or overextending your
reach in the garden. A long handle will also give you some
leverage and help you in using the tool.
Weight - Check the weight of any tool you're going to buy.
It should be heavy enough to be durable but not so heavy it is
fatiguing to use. A lightweight tool means more energy to
Quality - Good tools, well taken care of will last
forever. Those tools that get daily use (trowels come to mind)
should be made of materials that are both durable and
effective. Stainless steel and carbon steel blades are best.
If your empty window boxes are begging for some winter
substance try filling them creatively with evergreen branches
inserted into the soil. If the soil is already frozen soften it
with warm water first. You will find that balsam fir branches
will hold their blue-green needles until spring. For added color
try bittersweet, holly berries, and strawflowers.
"An important part
in the winter landscape is played by the dead grasses and other
herbaceous plants, especially by various members of the
composite family, such as the asters, golden- rods, and
sunflowers. Wreathed in snow or encased in ice they present a
singularly graceful and fantastic appearance. Or, perhaps, the
slender stalks and branches armed with naked seed-pods trace
intricate and delicate shadows on the smooth snow."
Mrs. William Starr Dana