Thursday, February 5, 2009

More winter gardening tips

Some more gardening tips for the winter:

* Prune off limbs that have been damaged by heavy snow or ice.
* It is OK to remove heavy snow deposits from trees and shrubs to avoid breaking limbs, but do not remove layers of ice from plants. Allow ice to melt naturally to avoid injuring the plants.
* Check on bulbs you are forcing and plants you are storing in the basement for the winter. Do not allow them to completely dry out.
* Fertilize houseplants with ¼ or ½ strength fertilizer and give proper amounts of water.
* Give special attention to houseplants - provide necessary humidity indoors by setting pots on trays filled with pebbles and water, check to insects and apply insecticidal soap if necessary, and wash dust off of leaves to allow the plant to receive and process light more efficiently.
* Save wood ashes from the fireplace or wood stove to add to compost or use sparingly around lilacs, lilies, roses and asters in the spring. Wood ash helps to fertilize the garden, but it is alkaline in effect. Do not use them on acid-loving plants.
* Recycle used Christmas trees as wildlife refuge and bird feeding station. String peanuts, popcorn, cranberries and other fruits and hang them from the limbs of the trees.
* Provide a non-frozen source of water for the birds.
* Read gardening magazines and seed catalogs and make notes or sketches of new plants you want to try in the spring or new garden bed designs.
* Gather evergreens and dried seed heads and berries to make indoor arrangements or wreaths. Pine, fir, rosehips, grass seed heads, bittersweet berries and many vine branches make excellent floral materials.
* Walk the garden to look for plants that have heaved out of the ground during the freeze and thaw cycles. Push plants back down with your heel and protect them with a good layer of mulch.
* Salt from sidewalks and roadways can harm plants. Use sand instead whenever possible.
* Trees, shrubs and bulbs can be planted as long as the ground remains unfrozen.
* Turn compost pile.
* Place snow that is salt-free on top of perennials to act as an insulating mulch. Do not use snow that has been contaminated by salt!
* Practice “internet gardening” when cold weather prohibits outdoor activities. Bookmark garden plans, seed sources and plant lists so they will be handy in the spring when you need them.

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