Across southeast Pennsylvania it has been a different winter. It has been a winter of little snow and scarce cold weather. Some will recall it as a great winter. Others might wonder what it means, especially to our spring flowers.
As February came to a close there were sure signs of spring. Spring garden flowers, crocus, daffodils, grape hyacinth, were pushing up. The careful observer also noted some tree buds swelling early.
Flower buds on trees have only one chance each spring. Unlike leaf buds, there are no “reserve flower buds” available to replace them.
It is that time of year when you should begin planning the gardens you want to plant this spring. A rain garden is the perfect garden to beautify your property and help the environment.
A rain garden is a planted depression in an area of lawn or soil that soaks up rainwater runoff from roofs, driveways, walkways and compacted lawn areas. It’s water that would otherwise carry pollutants directly to our streams. Rain gardens soak up 30 percent more water than an equivalent patch of lawn.
Preparing the soil is the most important step in flower or vegetable gardening. Test your soil this spring and use the test results and recommendations as a guide.
The soil in gardens changes, although it may look the same year after year. Growing and harvesting crops, leaching and erosion affect the availability of soil nutrients. A soil test is a valuable tool that guides gardeners.
A soil test measures nutrient amounts and pH, or level of acidity. Soil pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acid, 14 the most alkaline and 7 neutral.
Here is a list of gardening items that you can think about doing, even in winter.
Choose seeds, bulbs and woody plants from catalogs and order early. Some varieties sell out quickly. Be sure to look for disease and pest resistance when purchasing vegetable and flower seeds.
Check trees and shrubs for animal damage. Pull any mulch away from trunks where bark can be gnawed or stripped off.
Water recently-planted trees and shrubs if there is little or no rain or snow and if the ground is not frozen.
Is there a mouse in your house?
Eliminate mice with IPM.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) uses information about the pest to choose methods of control that are safest and most effective.
IPM methods include pest prevention, exclusion and nonchemical tools first. If chemical pesticides are needed, products are chosen that pose the least risk to human health.
Winter brings frigid temperatures, icy winds and snow. Just as people battle Mother Nature at this time of year, so do trees, with one major exception: trees can’t avoid exposure to the elements.
While your trees seem to be in a state of hibernation in the winter, exposure to tough conditions can cause them major stress. Minimize that stress by helping your trees through the cold months, a little at a time. If you take care of your trees in the winter, you’ll be rewarded in the spring. Here are a few tips:
Even though it is not quite Jan. 1, it’s not too early to make your gardening resolutions for the New Year. Gardening is supposed to be a fun and leisure activity, yet many times there are a lot of frustrated gardeners out there. While it’s great to be challenged, there are a number of things you can do to make your gardening life easier. Here are some resolutions for you to make:
When shopping for holiday gifts, given that gardening is one of the most popular hobbies nationwide, there is sure to be a gardener or two on your list.
This column isn’t for gardeners, however. It’s for those considerate and well-intentioned friends and loved ones who try their best each year to get their gardening friends the perfect gardening gift. So leave this copy of Focus lying around conspicuously, perhaps with a few items highlighted, and make things easier for those generous souls seeking the ideal present for the gardening enthusiast.
Most varieties of the so-called Christmas cactus are really examples of the Thanksgiving cactus.
While there is a type of cactus named the Christmas cactus, the Thanksgiving species has by far the most hybrids and is more prominent during the Yuletide season.
The kind you see most often at Christmas has three to four pairs of saw-toothed projections resembling crab claws on the leaves, and that’s the Thanksgiving or crab cactus. The leaves of the true Christmas cactus, in contrast, are rounded with no saw-toothed edges.
The days are growing shorter and the beautiful autumn leaves are beginning to pile up on your lawn. What can you do with all those fallen leaves?
Think of them as a valuable horticultural resource that can help condition your lawn and garden soil, while reducing the volume of your yard waste by 75 percent.