January 16, 2008
It's a wet, rainy day. Snow is on its way and I think we are
supposed to receive anywhere from 1-4
inches. We are lucky to be receiving the moisture. How green
everything will be once spring arrives. Speaking of which, it is
hard to believe that it is already the middle of January. I
won't ask where time goes because I am not sure there is an
answer. I always think that once February has come and gone it
is pretty much smooth sailing. We have had those occasional snow
storms in March but for the most part March is when
our plantings begin to stir. Bulbs
start popping up through the ground giving us a much needed
change to the dreary winter landscape. Buds start forming on
trees as warmer temperatures do their part. I can see it now. It
won't be long and once again we will be in our gardens.
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
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.
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.
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!
Savvy Citrus Crop?
Here's a mid-winter project that is sure to be fun for
Savvygardeners of all ages - grow plants from citrus fruit
seeds. Store-bought oranges, grapefruits, lemons and
tangerines, may have viable seeds. Try germinating them in a
light, potting-soil mixture containing half peat moss. Keep the
seeds well watered and in a warm location. If seedlings fail to
appear in six weeks, try again with new seeds. Citrus plants
grown from seeds generally will not produce flowers or fruit,
but they do have attractive shiny-leaved foliage.
A Better Handle On Things...
Ever finish weeding and can't find that tool you just set
down? A bright color on the handle might have helped. Take time
now to paint wooden handles or wrap some colored grip tape around
plastic or metal ones. Your tools will be easy to find even in
the thickest of foliage!
Blowin' In The Wind...
When those north winds blow we humans find ourselves feeling
colder than the actual ambient temperature would suggest. We
know that as the "wind chill factor". For warm-blooded animals,
wind chills can have a profound effect on their ability to keep
warm. However, plants do not respond to wind chills because they
do not need to maintain a temperature above that of the outside
temperature. It's not all good news for the plants however.
Wind is desiccating and can dry plant tissues. Plant
tissues require moisture to survive and high wind speeds can
cause excess moisture loss from those tissues. This desiccation
may be great enough to injure or even kill tissue, particularly
the smaller size wood as in peach twigs, apple spurs or
"For as the rain
cometh down and the snow from the heaven, and returneth not
thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and
bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread
to the eater."