~ February 11, 2009 ~
Just The Way I Like It...
So far the month of February has been quite pleasant. Saturday was unbelievable! We worked outside all
day. We raked, finally took down the Christmas lights, picked up sticks and filled many recyclable bags
with leaves. At the end of the day we were tired but it was great to know that we had accomplished so
much. What a difference a little clean-up makes. The lawn and gardens look just the way I like them.
Nice and tidy.
Wasn't it wonderful to see the lightning and listen to the thunder last night? We Marsh's love a good
thunderstorm and last night's storm excited us all. I know that sounds a little crazy but it is true. To
us, thunderstorms mean spring and we are always relieved to think that we have survived another Kansas winter.
Oh but wait, it is only February. We may be getting ahead of ourselves. We are a lot like plants. We are
ready to break out of our winter wear to bask in the warmth of the sun. Patience is the key and wearing
shorts around the house will not bring spring here any sooner. We are trying to enjoy every nice day knowing
that it can be easily snatched away... like today.
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
- 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. Note: Increase the likelihood of luring birds
by planting the trees far enough away from the house to keep them from being spooked by
foot traffic in and out of your home.
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.
"And a thousand recollections
Weave their bright hues into woof
As I listen to the patter
Of the soft rain on the roof."
~ Coates Kinney