Good News, Bad News...
The good news first. We got some rain. And now for the bad
news - for those of us who are tired of the cold and snow, we
received about four inches and the
temperatures aren't climbing out of
the teens for the next few days. UGH! I guess we should be glad
we don't live in upstate New York. They are bracing for another
20 inches on the already accumulated
10 feet or more. Now that is a lot of
snow! I will graciously accept our four
inches and try really hard not to complain too
loudly. On the bright side the
temperatures are suppose to soar into the 50's next week. I
noticed that quite a few boxwoods
around our area (some in my own front yard) are turning a
yellow-bronze like color. A couple of the most common types of
boxwoods planted in our area are Green Mountain and Winter Gem.
Don't despair. The plant is probably desiccated and dehydrated
from all of the cold weather we have been experiencing. Winter
began dry and unfortunately for a lot of evergreens they are
really starting to show the effects of this nasty Midwest
winter. Once it starts to warm up and we start receiving those
much needed spring showers most boxwoods should bounce back.
Keep and eye on your evergreens. If it starts to warm up get out
the hose and give them a good slow, soaking drink. It may take a
while for you to see some change but be patient. It has been a
tough winter on everyone, even our plants.
So, we have about 3-5 inches of snow on the
ground at the moment. Use the white stuff to your garden's
advantage by strategically shoveling it where moisture is needed
most. Because it releases moisture slowly, melting snow is
an efficient irrigator - allowing the moisture to be absorbed
deep into the soil. Simply pile snow around the base of trees,
shrubs, and garden beds that have bulbs or perennials sleeping
in them. Just be careful not to use snow that has salts or
other deicing chemicals mixed in.
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.
Next time you're dusting the furniture also consider dusting
the plants. With the short days of winter we need to make sure
as much light as possible reaches our houseplants. Simply wipe
dust from broad-leaf plants at regular intervals using a cloth
dampened with clean water.
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.
Valentine's Day be filled with love,
understanding, and contentment as you journey through life with
those you hold dear."