The sleepy days of winter have come upon us. As the landscape quietly regresses into these cold foggy days we take a little break from our garden. Daily watering and tending is an unnecessary task. Weeding and raking take a back seat and now it is time to prepare for the upcoming spring. There are simple tasks that you can take month by month to get your landscape spring ready. My belief is gardening does not have to be difficult. Do the prep work, pick the right plants, and have an adequate irrigation system and you can enjoy your landscape without cursing it.
Start your gardening journal. It’s difficult to remember all of the nuances of your garden. And a key to easy gardening is being ahead of the game. Plant when the soil is the right temperature, apply pre-emergent before your weeds take over, fertilize when the plants need it, and take note of where your vegetables got the best sunlight. If you need a jumping off point pick up a gardening journal by Moleskine at our nursery.
It has everything you will need to take note of in our garden. Many gardeners, novice to advance, have created their own reference guide with it.
Frost protection. Create a system to quickly cover your plants on nights with freeze warnings. It can be as easy putting stakes around the perimeter of the plants to support a drop a cloth. Use a breathable fabric, like burlap, and avoid letting the fabric touch the plant. When the frost warning is over the next day pull the fabric off and let your plants get some fresh air and sunlight.
Sharpen your tools. It’s time to prune your trees and roses. Make your job easier by
having the right tools in tip top shape. We have small hand held blade sharpeners and an assortment of loppers if you need a new pair. Each model will have the diameter of limb the tools are capable of cutting. Choose something that will get large stems with ease, and good quality hand held pruners for small, manageable tasks.
Time to prune. Toward the end of January prune your fruit trees and roses on a dramatic scale. They need to be cut back every winter to create a healthy structure, maintain a manageable size and to produce an abundant yield of fruit and flowers. Be sure to come to our pruning demonstration with L.E. Cooke on January 25. Every year their experts show us how to correctly train and prune your trees.
Clean out the flower beds. After you are done pruning take the time to clean out all the clippings and remaining foliage in your flower beds. Layers of old leaves create a perfect environment for pests to overwinter. Rake out and dispose of old leaves and branches. Reapply a fresh top dressing of mulch around your trees and shrubs to keep the ground temperature steady. I recommend at least 2” of mulch on the soil surface.
Apply dormant oil. Use Horticulture Oil to apply to your dormant trees over the winter. Spray them down to smother any pests that are hibernating through the cold months. Horticulture oil is a type of mineral oil, making it safe for organic gardening.
Plant bare root trees. We typically get our bare root fruit trees mid to late January. Come by and pick out the perfect fruit tree and get a head start and a small but might variety.
Prune back you deciduous ornamental grasses. Species of Pennisetum, Calamagrostis, Bouteloua, among others will die back in the winter. Cut these within six inches of the ground while they are dormant to maintain healthy foliage in the coming year.
February is typically the time we see our last day of freezing temperatures. Take note in your journal to prepare you for the following year.
Start sketching your garden. Whether you are revamping your landscape or planning a vegetable garden take the time now to plan it out now.
Apply pre-emergent to your lawn and flower beds. It is a gardener’s best friend. Pre-emergent can be applied in granular or liquid form four times a year to prevent seeds from emerging. In other words, it keeps weeds from even becoming a problem. Avoid locations of your yard where you encourage flowers to reseed.