~ January 12, 2011 ~
As I sit at my desk contemplating what to write I can feel the cold air seeping through the windows. It is a bitter 6° degrees outside
and if you factor in the wind chill it feels like -7°. It is cold and the bright, shining sun is deceiving. The snow that arrived
on Monday was welcomed by everyone in our house. It was such a beautiful snow
(photos). It fell heavy at times, the flakes as big as quarters.
It was not too heavy to shovel but the boys tired of that sooner than I had hoped. Sunday night our house resonated with the same old questions
and wishes. "Do you think we'll have school tomorrow?" "I sure hope we don't have school tomorrow!" Well, they got their wish for Monday and Tuesday and I'm
going to assume I wasn't the only parent eager to see their kids off to school today.
By the looks of the seven-day forecast the 6-7 inches of snow we received will be around for awhile. We will get some thawing in the afternoons but
the lows will stay bitterly cold. Good news for our plants! The slow melt will be able to seep into the ground giving all plants a much needed drink.
Snow in the forecast again for Sunday. Hopefully we won't get as much as we did this past week. I'm hoping for none. Could be a long winter.
Much Needed Moisture...
Last weekend's snowfall brought us some much needed precipitation. After all, it's been months since it's rained.
Unfortunately there's just not that much actual moisture in all that white stuff. You can however maximize its irrigating effects
by piling any shoveled snow around the base of trees and shrubs. As the snow slowly melts there will be that much more available
for these nearby plants. Caution - do your best to limit the use of chemical de-icers on snow that will find its way near your
Minimize Lawn Damage...
Snow has been scarce this winter but now that it has arrived it's a good time to
remember that lawns and shrubs can be damaged by the various chemicals and salts we use
to melt ice and snow. Savvygardeners can minimize the risk of damage by following a few
simple steps when de-icing walks and driveways:
Use an ice melting substitute or calcium
chloride that is gentler on the landscape than salt.
Before applying such a product, shovel
off as much snow as possible.
Apply the de-icing product down the
middle of your sidewalk or driveway.
Shovel any treated snow or ice into the
street or driveway. Any place but your lawn.
Blowin' In The Wind...
When those north winds blow we humans find ourselves feeling colder than the actual ambient
temperature would suggest. We know that as the wind chill factor. For warm-blooded
animals, wind chills can have a profound effect on their ability to keep warm. However,
plants do not respond to wind chills because they do not need to maintain a temperature
above that of the outside temperature. It's not all good news for the plants however.
Wind is desiccating and can dry plant tissues. Plant tissues require moisture to
survive and high wind speeds can cause excess moisture loss from those tissues. This desiccation
may be great enough to injure or even kill tissue, particularly the smaller size wood as
in peach twigs, apple spurs or blackberry canes.
Boughs For Beds...
Many of our readers are disposing of a Christmas tree in the very near future. Why not put that
tree to some beneficial use?
- Evergreen boughs are great insulators and can be effectively used as a mulching
material on flower beds.
- The whole tree itself makes a nice temporary protective habitat for birds.
Place it in the garden near your bird feeders.
If you take advantage of winter to get some pruning done
remember that when pruning large limbs, always undercut
first. This means cut from the bottom up, one-third of the way
through the limb, then finish by cutting from the top. The
undercut keeps the limb from splitting and breaking off, which
could damage the trunk and become an entryway for insects and
diseases. Also, don't cut flush to the trunk. The collar or
enlarged base of a branch produces hormones that help heal
Feed Our Feathered Friends...
It's hard for our feathered friends to find food in the winter months. Keep your feeders
full and you will be rewarded with beautiful garden visitors year round. If you're interested
in attracting specific birds here are some popular birds and their favorite menu items:
thistle seeds, broken sunflower hearts, oil-type sunflower
Sunflower seeds of all types, safflower, cracked corn,
millet, other seeds, unsalted nutmeats, raisins.
sunflower seeds, cracked unsalted nutmeats, safflower,
white proso millet, finely cracked corn, oil-type sunflower
seed, unsalted nutmeats.
Sunflower seeds of all types, safflower, cracked corn.
sunflower seeds, white and red proso millet, safflower,
cracked corn, wheat, milo, other seeds.
white proso millet, oil-type sunflower seeds, cracked corn,
unsalted nutmeats, sunflower seeds, cracked corn.
Be Savvy, Not Soggy...
Has this weather got you gardening indoors for a while? Be aware that overwatering is a common problem with houseplants. Remember, most
indoor plants should not be watered until the soil feels dry.
Water thoroughly, let the water soak in, then water again until
water drains into the saucer. Empty the saucer within an hour.
"The hiss was now becoming a roar - the whole world was
a vast moving screen of snow-but even now it said peace,
it said remoteness, it said cold, it said sleep."
~ Conrad Aiken