Quotation of the Week:
"We may think that we are tending our garden, but of course, in many different ways, it is the garden and the plants that are nurturing us."
— Jenny Uglow
1. Purchase and plant bare-root roses, trees, vines, berries and vegetables.
2. Choose and plant camellias and azaleas.
3. Purchase cymbidiums.
4. Purchase and plant cool-season flowers to fill in bare spots.
5. Plant seeds of warm-season flowers for transplants to put out in spring.
6. Continue to plant winter vegetables from transplants and seeds.
7. Many succulents, including cacti, bloom in winter and spring; purchase new types now.
8. Prune deciduous fruit trees.
9. Prune roses.
10. Deadhead azaleas.
11. Mow cool-season lawns. Most warm-season lawns are dormant now and don't need mowing.
12. Begin to feed citrus trees in coastal zones.
13. Treat citrus trees for chlorosis.
14. Start feeding epiphyllums for bloom with
0-10-10 or 2-10-10.
15. Continue to fertilize cymbidiums that have not yet bloomed with a high-bloom formula.
16. Feed cool-season flowers.
17. Feed cineraria.
18. Fertilize cool-season lawns.
19. Water plants according to need (when the rains are not adequate).
20. Irrigate citrus trees.
21. Remember to water plants under eaves where the rains cannot reach.
22. Dormant spray roses and deciduous fruit trees.
23. Dormant spray sycamore trees.
24. Check citrus trees for pests.
25. Pick up dead camellia blossoms to prevent petal blight.
26. Protect cymbidiums from slugs and snails.
27. Control rust on cool-season lawns.
28. Check trees, shrubs, and ice plants in coastal zones for overwintering whiteflies. Control by spraying.
29. Pull weeds.
30. Spray peach and apricot trees for peach leaf curl.
31. Protect tender plants from frost.
32. Stake cymbidium bloom spikes.
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by Tamara Galbraith
So, it's the middle of winter and temperatures have risen to a reasonable level. As a gardener, you're itching to get out and work in the yard. But what's to do this time of year?
Turn to your trees and shrubs - they could probably use some attention while they rest comfortably in winter dormancy. Here are some winter pruning pointers:
Non-flowering hardwood trees and shrubs should be pruned at this time of year to improve the plant's structure. Making cuts in the dormant season also reduces the chance of transmitting disease, discourages excessive sap flow and avoids the problem of possible pest infestation. Conifers can be trimmed any time, but are best pruned during the dormant season, as sap and resin flow are minimized from the cut branches.
Flowering trees and shrubs, with a few exceptions, should also be pruned during the dormant season for the same reasons stated above. However, do NOT yet prune trees and shrubs that flower in early spring--you'll be cutting off the buds that will open in a few months. Spring-flowering trees and shrubs should instead be pruned immediately after flowering. A good rule of thumb is that you should prune in the season opposite of flowering, i.e. flower in spring = prune in fall, and flower in summer = prune in winter.
Ornamental grasses that die during the winter should be given a 'flat-top haircut' about 3"-4" above ground at the end of winter, before new growth starts to emerge. Evergreen grasses should be left alone.
Of course, dead branches and canes can be removed any time of the year, especially those obviously suffering from insect and/or disease damage. If you suspect disease, be sure to disinfect your pruning tools with a germ-killing spray like Lysol™ before and after cutting plants. Do not put diseased or insect-infested cuttings in your compost pile.
Keeping your houseplants healthy during winter months may seem difficult. Light from windows is reduced, days are shorter and humidity may be lower due to heating. But by making a few changes, you can help keep your houseplants healthy.
In winter, your plants receive sunlight for less time and in less intensity. Houseplants native to rainforests that are used to lower light will be fine with that, but most plants need more light. Try to move your plants near a brighter window (S/SW exposure) to get them more sunlight.
If you have no brighter windows (due to shade trees or apartment living), you might want to consider the purchase of plant lamps that are designed to provide the full spectrum light your plants need. They can be mounted under shelves, over plants or on specially-designed plant stands. Leave them on about eight hours a day, and they'll give your plants the light they need.
You can also use cool fluorescent bulbs as close as 6 inches from the top of plants.
Most plants do not do well when subjected to rapid fluctuations in temperature. Keep them away from hot air sources and cold drafts alike. Run ceiling fans on low if the house is closed up. Fans break up stagnant air; that's healthier for both you and your plants.
Some symptoms of low humidity are brown leaf tips and wilting. Low humidity makes your plants work harder to get moisture from the air and soil, as well as keep what they have inside.
One way to give your plants some extra humidity is to mist them two or three times a day. The water will evaporate off the leaves and provide a cloud of higher humidity around the plant. For a less labor-intensive method, put a layer of pebbles in the bottom of a tray and fill the tray with just enough water to cover the bottom of the tray (below the top of the pebbles). Place potted plants in the tray.
Fertilizing should be done less often for most plants in winter.
Give your plants a good washing. Dirt, dust, grease, and other particles can settle on leaves. Dirty leaves can't absorb as much sunlight as clean ones. Gently wipe clean the leaves with a soft sponge or cloth dipped in plain water. Sturdier plants can even be given a quick shower in the bathroom with tepid water. (Skip this with hairy-leaf plants like African voilets, as they tend to get water spots. Instead, use a clean paintbrush to gently brush them off, supporting each leaf with your hand.)
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Perhaps nothing is a greater challenge to home gardeners than creating a deer-resistant landscape. Deer will eat almost anything, especially in the spring when plants are producing lush and tender new growth, and in fall and winter when natural food sources dry up and disappear.
To make matters worse, what deer in one area won't touch, others will devour in a different area. How prolific and available local natural food sources are for deer also plays a role in how often they will venture into neighborhoods. That said, some plants are definitely less "desirable" than other plants.
The key is to "camouflage" your garden by using plants that contain natural chemicals or have characteristics that deter deer from wanting to eat them. You can create a scent barrier by using a variety of strongly aromatic plants, shrubs, and herbs throughout your garden. Deer rely on their sense of smell to determine what is safe or desirable to eat. By using plants with a wide variety of strong odors, you can confuse the deer and they will usually leave the area and go to a landscape where they can clearly identify what they are eating.
Deer are also lazy and will often pass on a garden if the first plants they encounter taste bitter, have tough, coarse, hairy, or prickly foliage--or if they exude a sticky, milky sap when broken. Deer rarely eat these types of plants unless they are desperate. Another natural solution is to use plants that grow fast and can recover quickly from nibble damage.
Young trees can be damaged by deer two different ways: They can eat the foliage up to the browse line (usually no higher than 6' from the ground), plus bucks will often try to polish their antlers on trunks under 3" in diameter. So, we suggest either planting more mature trees or protecting them with a wire cage or scent barrier until the trees mature.
Until you have a chance to get your deer-resistant garden in, there are also non-toxic chemical solutions to deterring deer from your landscape. Some deer repellents work by making plants smell bad. Others use deer predator scents to trick the deer into thinking your garden is unsafe. A third kind of repellent works by making the foliage of your plants taste bad. These repellents can be varied occasionally and should be used until deer associate your yard with bad tastes and smells. (Unfortunately, you may get new deer coming by after the old ones leave, so a better long-term solution is to plant things they don't like.)
Stop by and one of our nursery experts will help you plan the perfect deer-resistant garden, one with plants that you will love--and the deer will hate.
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What does soil pH measure?
Soil pH indicates how acid or alkaline a soil is. In technical terms, it is a logarithmic function of the hydrogen ion concentration [H+]: pH = -log [H+]. Got all that?
In simpler terms, a pH of 7.0 is neutral. Below that number is acidic, above that number is alkaline. The scale is progressive, too. A pH of 6.0 is ten times more acid than a pH of 7.0; a pH of 5.0 is 100 times more acid than a pH of 7.0, and so on.
You can test your soil pH with a simple pH test kit.
• To modify or correct acidic soils you need to apply lime.
• To modify or correct alkaline soils you need to apply soil sulfur or aluminum sulfate.
Most plants prefer soil slightly on the acidic side of 6. Use a lower pH for acid-loving plants like blueberries, azaleas, and ferns.
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What you need:
- 1 ham (The size of your crock pot will determine the size ham to use. Generally nothing larger than a 7 lb. ham for large crock pots, and around a 4 -5 lb. ham for the smaller ones.)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 stick butter or margarine
- Three medium sweet potatoes, chopped into small pieces
- 3 carrots, cut into 1 inch (or so) pieces
- 1 cup water
Step by Step:
- Over low heat, melt butter; slowly add brown sugar, stirring continuously, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
- Place 1 cup of water in the crock pot, followed by the ham.
- Pour enough glaze over the top of the ham to coat it completely.
- Add sweet potatoes and carrots around the sides and on top of the ham, pour remaining glaze over the top of everything.
- Cover with a lid, place the crock pot on low and cook for 4-5 hours.
- Then enjoy tender, moist ham with sweet potatoes and glazed carrots--all cooked in one pot!