January 30, 2008
Savvygardener turns 8 this month! It his hard to believe that
eight years ago Kevin and I started this fledgling newsletter
and website. Our first readers were members of our families and
now there are over 6,000 people who receive Savvygardener every
week. I can't thank you all enough. Without you we would not
exist. Hats off to you our subscribers for spreading the word
and here is hoping that we will be around for many more years to
It was nice to see
the snow melt on Monday just in time to receive more on Tuesday.
UGH! I love that word. It is so befitting of my feelings. It is
a tough time of the year for me and February gets even tougher.
I want to be outside. I want to kneel down in the dirt and soil
my hands. Perhaps I need a tropical vacation? You know,
something to remind me that there is still a sun and that there
really are places where there is vegetation growing right now.
Call it sort of a Band-Aid to help me get through these last
months of winter. I am hanging on by a thread...
is there anyone else feeling my pain?
Groundhog Day, February 2nd, is a popular tradition in the United
States. It is also a legend that traverses centuries, its origins
clouded in the mists of time with ethnic cultures and animals
awakening on specific dates. It is on this day that the Groundhog
comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his
shadow. If he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks
of bad weather and returns to his hole. If the day is cloudy
(and, therefore, shadowless) he takes it as a sign of spring and
stays above ground. The groundhog tradition stems from similar
beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early
Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have
the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even
then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that
day was important. According to an old English song:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.
Seed Starting Savvy...
It's getting to be seed starting time
around here. Depending on how adventurous you are there are
seeds to start indoors now and many, many more to start in the
weeks to come. Need some help getting started? We've got two
very handy (and popular) articles that you might enjoy:
Valentine's Day Looks Rosy...
Valentine's Day is fast approaching. If
you are giving or getting potted miniature roses
we have some tips to keep them looking great.
Start by providing the plant with
much sun as you possibly can.
Keep it cool. Avoid
temperatures above 75°F and never place your rose near a heat
- Keep the humidity
high by placing it on a tray of pebbles filled with water.
- Remove faded
blossoms and turn the plant frequently to counteract its
tendency to reach for sunlight.
- Monitor it
carefully for spider mites and discourage mite infestation by
giving your rose a shower in the bathtub every two weeks.
- When warmer
weather arrives in April, you can plant your
valentine gift in a sunny position in your garden or
move it to a larger container to add color to a corner of your
deck or patio.
Thank Heaven For
This time of year many Savvygardeners turn their attention to
houseplants. It's not the same as gardening outside during the
other three seasons but it's gardening nonetheless. Repeated
requests for information on houseplant care (cleaning,
fertilizing, containers, and light requirements) have prompted us
to post an informative article on
Houseplant Care. Find it in our
Appropriate Use Of Force...
One of the great winter pleasures is forcing the stems of
certain woody plants into bloom for indoor display. Three of the
easiest are forsythia, pussy willow and flowering quince. These
plants have now gone through enough cold weather to satisfy their
chilling requirement and should bloom if given the right
day that is above freezing for collecting branches for blooming.
Cut the stems, keeping the stem length to 3 feet or less and
place them in a bucket of water. Once you have all the branches
you want, bring them into the house and soak them in warm water
for several hours to ensure that the stems and buds are fully
hydrated (a bathtub works well for this). Next, place them in a
container that has a warm preservative solution and place them in
an environment with high humidity and plenty of light. Floral
preservatives accomplish two functions; they prevent bacterial
growth in your water and provide nutrients and energy for the
life processes of the plants.
forsythia will take about 9 days to flower, quince will require
between 12 to 20, and pussy willow needs from 5 to 15 days. The
time required will vary depending on your indoor conditions and
how late in the winter the branches were collected with less time
being required for later collections. Most woody plants will
remain in flower for about a week before the blooms start to
With the rise of deer populations, damage
to landscapes has increased because of browsing. However, deer
have preferences and will avoid some plant species if more
desirable food is available. K-State Extension has given us this
short list of plants deer normally do not bother. Remember
that feeding habits can shift due to changes in food supply.
Also, some deer may have different preferences than most of the
Trees: Blue Spruce and Russian Olive
Shrubs: Barberry, Boxwood, Redosier Dogwood, Yew, Russian
Olive, Rose of Sharon, European Privet
Annuals, Perennials and Bulbs: Yarrow, Ageratum, Columbine,
Snapdragon, Lily of the Valley, Purple Cornflower, Daylily,
Lavender, Sweet Alyssum, Daffodil, Russian Sage, Marigold,
Lamb's Ears, Thyme, and Yucca.
"I'm tired of
hearing so much about maintenance-free gardens. If you aren't
going to get out there and live with it - including taking care
of it - then what's the point of gardening anyway? This year I'm
going to order fewer new things and concentrate on taking care
of what I have."