Ice and Snow and cold
- So far, we have experienced one of the lowest winter snow accumulations, but we still have two months of possible snowfall. If we get enough snow to weigh down branches, remove it by using a broom underneath to repeatedly but gently lift the branches. If branches are weighted by ice, allow the sun and temperature to melt the ice to avoid snapping the branches. It may take a while for the branches to recover, but they will.
- Open coldframes when the temperature is over 45 degrees and close at night.
- Look for ‘February Gold’ daffodil to emerge by mid-month, along with other early blooming spring bulbs.
- When a freeze is predicted, cover with a loose layer of leaves or a light-weight sheet overnight.
- Pull back matted leaf mulch to check on spring bulbs. If its foliage is white to pale, remove the leaves to expose the new foliage to the sun.
- Cut back last year’s perennial stems.
- Remove ivy from brick structures as it damages the mortar. Repair trellises and other support structures.
- ROSES: Order bare-root roses to plant mid-March to mid-April. Add 3” woodchip mulch to roses to keep the soil warm.
- Take cutting of geraniums for planting in May. Continue to mist and check for insects.
- Cut back poinsettias to 4-6”.
- Order northern-grown deciduous and evergreen plants to guarantee hardiness. Plant when the ground is workable.
- Thomas Jefferson’s initial planting of English peas was February 1, with harvest mid-May. Successive seeding gave him peas to mid-July.
- To know when to seed, check the seed packet that notes the number of days from seeding to planting out. Count back from mid-April, our last average frost date, to determine when to plant indoors.
- Mid-February, plant spinach.
When using a potting soil that contains sphagnum moss, wear gloves or wash your hands often, as the moss carries a fungal disease that enters the skin through cuts and scratches.
Outside in the Garden
- Neaten up the garden and edge beds.
- Rake soil and scatter collected seeds.
- Make notes as to plants to replace and areas to fill in this spring.
- Place pines and other evergreens prunings (except holly that dries prickly) on beds to protect plants and give a cleaner look.
- If fully dormant and in the wrong place, roses may be transplanted through January, if the ground is not wet or frozen and temperature above 32 degrees. Cut canes to 3-4 feet, pre-dig the new site, plant and mound 8-12 inches around the base. Cut back rose canes to prevent whipping, then mulch.
Fiddle Leaf Fig is a great architectural addition to any style home. The tropical plant requires little attention, loves our warm homes, bright light, water when the top layer of soil is dry, and fed (10-4-6) during the growing season (March through October). It is vulnerable to the usual houseplant pests. At first sign, wipe the waxy leaves with1/2 teaspoon to 1-gallon water mix, and to clean the leaves occasionally. Fertilize miniature roses in bloom monthly with 20-20-20.
Trees and Shrubs
Location! Trees and shrubs grow. Take into consideration the maximum height and width when planting. Always read the planting label for dimensions as well as other environmental requirements. Do not plant anything wider than the strip between the sidewalk and street, nor plants under power lines that will reach 15 feet tall. Consider line-of-sight when planting either side of the drive and the corner. Plant 10-15 feet from the street depending on the maintained or mature size of the plants.
In winter, the soil is often workable enough to pull or dig seedlings and saplings under trees and shrubs. Repot or transplant useful ones, winter over by mulching with leaves and securing with bird netting. In the spring, share with friends.
“To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.” ~ Alfred Austin, English poet.
We are in that awkward transition time of year when it is often too early and too late to do chores. Take one day at a time and hope for the best. Generally, nature is forgiving.
- Garden – Dig summer bulbs before the ground freezes. The moon phase this weekend makes it a good time to sow bachelor buttons, calendula, nicotiana, and sweet alyssum.
- Take advantage of end-of-the-season sales. For a quick and easy compost bin, connect pallets to form a three-sided box.
- House plants – Check new houseplants and those recently returned from outdoors, for emerging insects. Draw water the night before using. Quart milk jugs make good watering cans. Start forcing poinsettia using nature light as it does not like artificial. Decorate a door by hanging a straw wreath to which has been added dried dill, valerian, rue(wear gloves when handling), and other materials from your yard. Do not hang wreaths that include berried branches on doors as they attract birds and a mess.
- Trees – Wrap young tree trunks with tree guard(paper or other protective material) to create a shield from winter winds, freeze/thaw, and male deer rubbing their antlers against the trunk and branches. Piled branches around small trees will discourage deer from getting close to the trees.
- Vegetables – When beds are leaned, place a thin layer of chopped leaves on top. Cover with black plastic or tarp that will block light and kill weeds over-winter. Fasten down with tent stakes, wood boards, or bricks to hold in place.
- Pets – Protect pets on Halloween. Keep them inside or in a safe kennel. Secure chocolate in containers as it is lethal to dogs.
Garden – Continue to deadhead flowers. Snap daylily spent blooms late afternoon or evening so that you will wake up to a neat garden. Recycle spent bloom into the compost. Herbicide sprays drift even on calm days. Apply weed killer by using a painter’s trim roller. Porous plant containers dry faster than plastic and may need watering more than once a day.
Hummingbirds – Change feeder sugar water every three days during the summer, using white cane sugar (Domino or C&H), only. Hummers do not like beet sugar. The Hummingbird Society states, “Do not use any other sugar – not turinado(golden-colored raw sugar), raw, powdered(it contains starch) brown, or organic – and never use honey or artificial sweeteners. Spring water is preferred, but most tap water is acceptable.” Honey produces a fungus that clogs their throats resulting in death.
Monarchs – Whether you raise Monarchs in container to release, or observe them in your garden inspect their caterpillars for the tachinid fly eggs. The yellowish mass on their backs will eventually kill them. To destroy the eggs, Monarch Butterfly Garden recommends rinsing the caterpillars and then gently rubbing off the eggs. It will not harm the caterpillars.
Trees – Inspect trees for breakage, splitting and cracks from high winds and rains. Cut damaged into the healthy, solid wood, or back to the tree collar. The collar is a series of rings found where limbs grow from the trunk. The collar cells will scab over the cut. Do not cut into it or flush with the trunk. Painting or other artificial treatment will seal in insects and disease.
Trees that have lost half of their limbs should be removed.
Check for tree borers that appear in spring and summer. Insecticide treatment timing is critical as larvae enter the tree, 10-14 days after hatching treatment is ineffectual. Indications are frass(sawdust), round holes in the bark, and tree limbs dying from the base upwards.