This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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January 3, 2007

Get Creative...
The calendar says it is winter and we experienced a taste of it on New Year's Eve with some isolated rain/snow showers. Today is a different story. Sam Parker, the family dog and I just returned from our afternoon walk and it is actually quite nice outside. I believe the temperature is in the 50's. There is a breeze making it seem a bit cooler but what a wonderful day. I am headed back out in a few minutes to rake up some leaves. A full time job which I never seem to tire of. As long as it is January and I can be outside doing something then I am just fine with raking leaves.

Since the temperatures seem to be higher than normal (whatever that means) don't forget to water. Haven't heard that from me before? I will continue to remind you throughout winter, spring, summer and fall how important watering is. Especially if we are not getting adequate rainfall or snowfall. It looks as if the temperatures are going to remain steady for the next week or so and we might even see the low 60's early next week. Oh, how that makes me smile!

It is not too early to plan for those new gardens you are going to create this spring. I suggest jotting some ideas down on paper. Making notes about moving plants, where you want to plant new ones etc... Once you have a plan in place planting becomes the easy part. So, let your creative side take control and jot down 1, 2 or maybe 3 new ideas of something you would like to do different with your gardens. This is the time to let your imagination run wild. Go with it!

~ Shelly  

Houseplant Help...
This month is a good time to remember your houseplants. If any of them are getting too big for their pots simply divide them and re-pot. While you are at it give them some TLC by doing the following:

  • Prune judiciously. A light trim is usually sufficient.
  • Check for bugs. Aphids and other critters can usually be eradicated with some insecticidal soap.
  • Make sure the low winter sun isn't hurting your plants placed near windows. You can relocate them or simply rotate them periodically if necessary.
  • A different window related problem may be the cold. Leaves don't like touching cold glass.
  • If your house is really dry (like mine) make sure you mist your plants occasionally.

Boughs For Beds...
Many of our readers are disposing of a Christmas tree in the very near future.  Why not put that tree to some beneficial use? 

  • Evergreen boughs are great insulators and can be effectively used as a mulching material on flower beds. 
  • The whole tree itself makes a nice temporary protective habitat for birds.  Place it in the garden near your bird feeders.

Belated Bulb Burial...
If you're like me you were counting on warmer weather in December to finish your bulb planting.  Between unpredictable weather and the crush of the holidays it just didn't get doneHere's a trick I've gotten used to using each year: Plant your bulbs now in individual peat pots and place the pots in flats.  Set them outside where it is cold and bury the bulbs under a thick blanket of leaves.  With luck the ground will thaw again this winter and we can use the opportunity to transplant them into the garden.

 


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Spring Dreams...
These recent days of mild weather have us dreaming about spring! It seems like a long way off on the calendar but guess what?  There are several flowers whose seeds can be started this month!  They include Begonia, Browallia, Geranium, Larkspur, Pansy and Vinca.  Check out When to Start Seeds Indoors for more details.

Savvygardeners, Sappy Trees...
If you have ever pruned trees in late winter to early spring, you may have noticed that some weep sap from fresh pruning wounds.  Different species of trees vary in how easily and how much they "bleed."  Those that are most susceptible to bleeding include maples (silver, sugar, amur, Norway and hedge), black walnut, pecan, birch, mulberry, Osage orange (hedge tree) and grape.  Though bleeding may look as if it would cause considerable damage to the tree, that's not the case.  Even if large amounts of sap are lost, there is no apparent long-term damage.  However, many people find the appearance of this bleeding objectionable.  Pruning during the winter when temperatures remain below freezing will help minimize sap flow.  So if you have any of the "bleeders" that need pruned, you might want to do it while the weather is really cold.

Source

Asking About Ashes...
A common question this time of year concerns the spreading of wood ashes from the fireplace into the garden.  Many gardeners have heard that wood ashes increase soil pH.  While this is technically true it would take very considerable quantities to have any significant effect on pH.  Just spread them as evenly as possible and try not to overdo it.

Keep Off The Grass...
When temperatures plummet your grass will respond by moving water to areas outside the cells.  Ice accumulates in spaces between the cells and individual grass blades become brittle.  Walking on frozen turf will force the ice and cells together and can cause permanent damage to your lawn.  Do your best to avoid it.

Finally...
"Green is the fresh emblem of well- founded hopes. In blue the spirit can wander, but in green it can rest."

~ Mary Webb

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