~ February 10, 2010 ~
I recently received my Breck's catalog and have been using it as a form of therapy.
When it arrived I drooled on the cover. All of those amazing cone flowers in a wide
array of colors. I actually touched the cover, closed my eyes and hoped they would
come to life. I know it sounds crazy but hey, these words come from someone who likes
to play in the dirt and pull weeds. Crazy hardly covers it. February is one tough month.
March is right around the corner and the gardening itch has become too much to handle.
It's catalogs like Breck's, White Flower Farm and Country Gardens that keep me semi-sane.
Good thing for catalogs or I may have jumped off that big snow pile that's been sitting
around since December :-)
If you are ready to get out of the house the Metropolitan Lawn & Garden Show is this weekend
at the American Royal, February 12-14. This too is a good way to keep those gardening blues
at bay. Take your pad and pen with you so that you can make notes of things you see. In years
past I have seen some good ideas and have written them down so as not to forget about them come
planting time. I'm not fond of the venue but they never seem to ask me my opinion. It is a
little too barn-like at the American Royal. Good for a rodeo, not so good for a garden show.
Warmer temperatures may be headed our way. Too early to get excited... waiting patiently, ok
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.
"Winter is cold-hearted,
Spring is yea and nay,
Autumn is a weather cock
Blown every way.
Summer days for me
When every leaf is on its tree."
~ Christina Rossetti