~ January 6, 2010 ~
Back From The Tropics...
Thanks to all of you who graciously participated in talking about your New Year's resolutions
on our Community site. If you have not had time to make your gardening resolution do so now!
Just go to
to give us your thoughts. I really enjoyed reading them.
Lots of good resolutions to live by. Mine is to make sure that next winter I am living somewhere
Speaking of warmer weather, the Marsh family just returned from a seven-day cruise to the Eastern
Caribbean. It was unbelievably beautiful! Our first stop was Turks and Caicos. I have never seen
the color of water that I saw while visiting there. It was turquoise and the water was
pleasantly warm. I tell you, I could have sat on the beach all day taking in the smells, sounds and
the warmth of the sun. Our next stop was Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. We took a tour up into the mountains
and I was consumed with all of the tropical plants, flowers and fruits. How cool it must be to step
outside your own house to pick an orange, plantain or a handful of coffee beans. Next stop was St.
Thomas in the Virgin Islands. It is hard to describe in words what we saw, so hopefully some of
pictures will help. Another beautiful destination. It was fun to be with the kids and to visit all
of these wonderful places. Believe you me, when we stepped off the plane arriving back into Kansas
City it was a bit of a shock.
Enough talk about tropical weather. It doesn't look as if we'll see anything close to that for some
time... sadness. Just another nasty winter in Kansas. It's not as if I just moved here so I don't know
what I am complaining about. I guess we have to make the best of it. Stay warm but don't be afraid to
venture outside. As much as I hate the cold I always surprise myself when I have to take Sam Parker for
a walk how beautiful it really is. Of course the temperatures are not -25į yet so maybe I should get back
to you on how nice it is to be out walking in this winter wonderland.
A Heavy Load...
Certain evergreen shrubs, such as yew, juniper and arborvitae (northern white cedar) have a tendency
to accumulate snow during snowfalls. The weight of the snow bends the branches of the shrubs, and
can cause breakage or kinking. It is a good idea to remove most of the snow on these shrubs to reduce
such damage. Do not, however, beat the shrubs with a snow shovel or other implement. Doing so will
only cause additional damage. Use a broom or a brush and as gently as possible remove the snow from
the upper surfaces. Donít be alarmed if the shrub does not immediately rebound to its former shape.
It is likely that in the spring, when sap is flowing through the shrub, it will recover from any
bending that may have occurred.
When ice and snow pile up it's not unusual to
reach for a deicing agent to help melt the frozen stuff away. Deicers work by lowering the freezing point of
water, creating a brine (chemical-water solution) and allowing
water to evaporate. The oldest and most common deicing agent is
sodium chloride (rock salt), but calcium chloride, potassium
chloride and magnesium chloride are also used. The damaging
effects of these materials on plants come from their reducing the
ability of plants to take up water and the effects may not show up
until late spring or summer when water stresses begin to prevail
so donít expect damage to be immediate.
Limited use of deicers and spreading the ice
slush when scooping it away over a wide area will lessen
potential damage. Heavy applications of water in the spring
season can also flush salts downward through the soil.
Belated Bulb Burial...
If you're like me you were counting on warmer weather in December
to finish your bulb planting. Between unpredictable weather and the
crush of the holidays it just didn't get done. Here's a trick I've
gotten used to using each year: Plant your bulbs now in individual
peat pots and place the pots in flats. Set them outside where it is cold
and bury the bulbs under a thick blanket of leaves. With luck the ground
will thaw again this winter and we can use the opportunity to transplant
them into the garden.
These past few weeks of wintry weather have us dreaming about spring! It seems
like a long way off on the calendar but guess what? There are several flowers
whose seeds can be started this month! They include Begonia, Browallia,
Geranium, Larkspur, Pansy and Vinca. Check out
When to Start Seeds Indoors for more details.
If you have ever pruned trees in late winter to early spring, you may have
noticed that some weep sap from fresh pruning wounds. Different species of
trees vary in how easily and how much they "bleed." Those that are
most susceptible to bleeding include maples (silver, sugar, amur, Norway and
hedge), black walnut, pecan, birch, mulberry, Osage orange (hedge tree) and
grape. Though bleeding may look as if it would cause considerable damage to
the tree, that's not the case. Even if large amounts of sap are lost, there
is no apparent long-term damage. However, many people find the appearance of
this bleeding objectionable. Pruning during the winter when temperatures
remain below freezing will help minimize sap flow. So if you have any of the
"bleeders" that need pruned, you might want to do it while the weather
is really cold.
This month is a good time to remember your houseplants. If
any of them are getting too big for their pots simply divide them
and re-pot. While you are at it give them some TLC by doing the
judiciously. A light trim is usually sufficient.
- Check for bugs.
Aphids and other critters can usually be eradicated with some
- Make sure the low
winter sun isn't hurting your plants placed near windows. You
can relocate them or simply rotate them periodically if
- A different
window related problem may be the cold. Leaves don't like
touching cold glass.
- If your house is
really dry (like mine) make sure you mist your plants
Keep Off The Grass...
When temperatures plummet your grass will respond by moving water to areas outside
the cells. Ice accumulates in spaces between the cells and individual grass blades
become brittle. Walking on frozen turf will force the ice and cells together and
can cause permanent damage to your lawn. Do your best to avoid it.
"Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on
silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, were children once again."
~ Bill Morgan Jr.