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.
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 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
- 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
- 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.
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.
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:
Duchess of Edinburgh
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).
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.
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.
"There is always
music amongst the trees in the garden, but our hearts must be
very quiet to hear it."