January 9, 2008
More Wacky Weather...
How about this crazy weather? Kevin and I were eager to take
advantage of the warmer temperatures this past weekend. He took
down the Christmas lights and I did the typical clean-up work. I
picked up more acorns (go figure) and removed more fallen leaves
from several garden beds. It was nice to rid ourselves of the
sand that has been lying around in the driveway. What a menace
that stuff is! It would be one thing if we resided at the
beach but that stuff gets dragged inside and is everywhere.
One of the many problems to deal with when there is snow and ice
on the ground.
It was hard to
believe that there were over 32 tornadoes
spotted in the Midwest early Monday. I do remember being
awakened by a loud crash of thunder around 2 AM. Heard a few
rain drops and was fondly reminded of spring. Nothing like a
good old fashion thunderstorm. Luckily we were spared the
tornadic activity in the Kansas City-area. There were other
areas that were not so lucky. It is hard to figure out from one
day to the next what the weather will bring. This week it looks
as if the temperatures are going to hover in the high 40's to
the mid 30's. You will not find me complaining. I can still get
outside and be comfortable and for that I am grateful.
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
judiciously. A light trim is usually sufficient.
- Check for bugs.
Aphids and other critters can usually be eradicated with some
- Make sure the low
winter sun isn't hurting your plants placed near windows. You
can relocate them or simply rotate them periodically if
- 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
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
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 done. Here'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.
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
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.
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.
"Those new to
gardening should know, however, that most gardeners hate to part
with dirt, clay pots, pickle jars, really good labels, stakes,
tarred twine, and any kind of wooden box. They
do not mind giving
up a plant that sells for $40 if they have an extra one,
but the other stuff, (which may be
worth a dime) it tears the heart to part with."