This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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January 17, 2007

Ready For A Warm-Up...
As I type this editorial I am clothed in as many layers as possible. I have big wooly socks on my feet with slippers on over them. I have a sweater and a light weight jacket on as well. It is amazing I can move, let alone type. I hate this cold. Even when Sam Parker and I are outside walking I find myself hurrying him along so that we can get back to the warmth of the house. Of course warm is relative. The thermostat is set on 69
˚ and if feels as if it is 50˚. I am hoping that a warm-up is in our near future. I am ready for the thawing to begin.

Since the temperatures don't seem to be moving in the right direction (up), stay warm and be careful. Whether you are out walking the family pet or just out to pick up the paper. The ice is treacherous and falling is the last thing that any of us want to do. Instead sit by the fire and dream of days in the garden when the temperatures are in the 70's! Now that I can stand!

~ Shelly  

Pruning Primer...
If you take advantage of winter to get some pruning done remember that when pruning large limbs, always undercut first.  This means cut from the bottom up, one-third of the way through the limb, then finish by cutting from the top.  The undercut keeps the limb from splitting and breaking off, which could damage the trunk and become an entryway for insects and diseases.  Also, don't cut flush to the trunk.  The collar or enlarged base of a branch produces hormones that help heal wounds.

All America Selections...
Each year the All-America Selection organization selects the best new flowers and vegetables based on carefully controlled trials across North America.  This is a great resource for discovering new and interesting flowers and vegetables for your garden.  We have posted this year's AAS winners on our website.

Jade In The Shade?
Many Savvygardeners grow Jade plants because of their tolerance for low light conditions.  However, while jade will survive in low light, it needs as much direct sunlight as possible to look its best.  Insufficient light will cause your jade plant to lose most of its old, thick leaves and grow thin, new ones on spindly stems.  Not a good trade-off if you ask me.

 


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You're Getting Warmer...
Much of the United States has been warmer in recent years, and that affects which trees are right for planting. Based on the latest comprehensive weather station data, The National Arbor Day Foundation has just released a new 2006 Hardiness Zone Map which separates the country into ten different temperature zones to help people select the right trees to plant where they live. The new map reflects that many areas have become warmer since 1990 when the last USDA hardiness zone map was published. The greater Kansas City area has shifted from Zone 5 to a warmer Zone 6.

Hardiness zones are based on average annual low temperatures using 10 degree increments. For example, the average low temperature in our Zone 6 is 0 to -10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Be Savvy, Not Soggy...
Overwatering is a common problem with houseplants.  Remember, most indoor plants should not be watered until the soil feels dry.  Water thoroughly, let the water soak in, then water again until water drains into the saucer.  Empty the saucer within an hour.

Pelleted Perfection...
You may find yourself perusing a seed catalog and come across something called pelleted seed.  Some mail order seed companies offer pelleted seed of lettuce, carrot, and a few other small-seeded crops.  Pelleted seed is like any other seed except that it has a special coating that makes it larger.  While almost anyone will appreciate the convenience of larger seeds it is especially valuable for children and gardeners with arthritic hands, weak eyesight, or poor coordination.  When using pelleted seed, plant in moist soil and keep it moist as the coating has to dissolve before the seed can germinate.

Heave, Ho...
We've seen some interesting swings in temperatures lately.  While most of us appreciate the days above freezing, our plants may be less than thrilled.  The freezing and thawing of the ground can force shallow-rooted plants out of the soil.  This is called "heaving" and should not be a problem if you mulched well at the onset of winter.  If you see any signs of heaving among your plantings simply replant any that have heaved and mulch with 2 inches of organic material.  Those leaves that seem to linger all season are perfect!

Finally...
"The hiss was now becoming a roar - the whole world was a vast moving screen of snow - but even now it said peace, it said remoteness, it said cold, it said sleep."

~ Conrad Aiken

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