This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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Seeds Indoors
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January 16, 2008


Time Flies...
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.

~ 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.

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!

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 blackberry canes.


"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."

~ Isaiah

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