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.
- Patron of Gardeners – October 2nd is is St Francis of Assisi Day, known for his love of animals and nature.
- 15 Minute Gardening – Label garden hoses “Not Potable”, since the PVC stabilizer can leach into the water. Potable are available from garden stores and on-line.
- Water Early and Deep – Always water early morning to let foliage dry off before the sun reaches the plant. Water beads will act as a magnifying glass, burning the foliage. Soil should be watered one inch a week or when the soil is dry more than the top inch. To check the depth, use a spade to take a narrow plug. Slow water to allow for absorption and not run-off.
- Wedding- Pull or dig weeds making sure all of the root system is removed.
- Saving Seeds – Save seed from your favorite annuals except hybrid varieties that will not come true or are sterile. Seed packets marked F1, are hybrids.
- Spacing Bulbs – For a naturalized planting of bulbs, determine the area to be planted, throw bulbs them over your back, and plant where they landed.
- Caring for dried flowers – Use spray lacquer or hair spray on dried flower to prevent shattering and as a primer before spray painting. Revive cut hydrangeas by plunging them head-first into water, also stems if possible, for about an hour.
- Trees and shrubs – Rake walnuts, sweet gum, buckeye and Kentucky Coffee(our Heritage Tree) seeds before mowing as they can dull mower blades and can be a dangerous projective. The Whitehaven Welcome Center will gladly receive your buckeye seeds and Coffee tree pods to share with visitors who enjoy receiving both.
- Separate grocery-purchased garlic cloves that have sprouted, pot up, and snip new growth for cooking.
- For fried green tomatoes, use only hard green ones without any blush. Those that show color tend to get too soft.
- Fish Tank Fertilizer – Save water from cleaning the fish tank to fertilize the garden.
- Deep water plants in preparation for winter. Despite what it seems, plants continue to grow their roots even during the coldest winter.
- 15 Minute gardening – Write out a weekly plan of what needs to be done and divide into daily chores. Make a list of tools and supplies, adding what is needed to the shopping list. Having all supplies at hand, saves time and frustration.
- Garden – While the soil is soft, pull weeds before they go to seed. Grab them at soil level and roll you hand away from the weed. It is easier and more root comes out than pulling straight up.
- Pull dried daylily stems.
- Pot up spring bulbs in soil to force for holiday bloom.
- Layer daffodil, tulip and top with crocus and muscari.
- Sow hardy annuals and transplant tender biennials.
- Lawn – Remove thatch. Seed areas that need repair before mid- to late month. Check lawnmower blades for sharpness. The more turgid the leaf blades, the duller they will make the mower blades.
- Trees – Select locations for fall tree planting in October. Consider power lines location.
- Plant shrubs (mature size up to 10 feet) 10 feet from the power line. Magnolia soulangeana “Ann” is a small shrub that has bloomed all summer.
- Small trees(mature size under 30 feet) plant at least 15 feet from power lines.
- Medium trees (30-50 feet) plant 35 feet away
- tall trees, at least 45 feet.
- Prune crape myrtle whose flowers have gone to seed and cut suckers from the base of the tree. Wait to trim trees that have sent out new growth thinking it is mid-summer, until they go dormant. Pick of fallen fruit to avoiding tripping or creating projectiles when mowing.
- Vegetable – Work organic matter into vacant spaces: compost, aged manure, rotted straw or chopped leaves. Work 10-10-10 granular fertilizer into the soil and plant leaf lettuce, radish, spinach and turnip greens until mid-month. Reduce growth of perennial herbs by not fertilizing, so that fertilizer forced new-growth is not killed by frost.