This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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February 13, 2008

 

Love and Gardening...
Well, ole Mother Nature teased us a little with the weather today. If you found a good sunny spot the temperature might have reached 40 degrees. Much better than the single digits we had over the weekend! Most of the snow and ice on our property has actually melted and the grass and soil have thawed out for the moment.  I know Spring is getting closer, give me strength!

Valentine's Day is special in the Marsh household.  We always make a big deal about exchanging cards and small gifts.  A box from Maryland arrived today and we can only hope it's full of our favorite chocolates from The Candy Kitchen in Frederick. Tonight the boys (still in grade school) will be busy filling out those crazy Valentine's for all their classmates.  Our daughter (high school junior) seems to need only one Valentine card this year. They do grow up fast.

I hope your Valentine's Day is as filled with love as mine.

~ Shelly  

Getting 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 Jumping Some More...
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 arrives.
  • 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 now.
  • 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.

Source

Housekeeping, Houseplants...
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.

Cutting Clematis...
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:

Nelly Moser Duchess of Edinburgh Henryi
Miss Bateman Mrs. Cholmondeley Elsa Spaeth
Lasurstern Dr. Ruppel General Sikorski

Fungus Gnats...
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).

Source

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.

Source

Checking In...
Check stored cannas, dahlias, and gladiolus for rot and shriveling.  Cannas, and dahlias can be spritzed with water if they appear to be drying up, or you can add a few drops of water to wood shavings, sawdust, or peat moss and store them in this material to help them remain viable until spring.  Check gladiolus that are stored in the open air for signs of mold or decay.  Discard all corms that have black spots or gummy brown spots at the base.

Finally...
"There is always music amongst the trees in the garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it."

~ Minnie Aumonier

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