|Photo courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/cjsmithphotography|
☼ Don’t toss your wood ash - use it sparingly in your compost pile, garden or lawn. It raises soil pH and supplies potassium.
☼ Consider using sand or sawdust for traction rather than salt. If salt is used, spread it carefully so garden beds, grass and shrubs aren’t damaged.
☼ Accumulated snow and ice can severely damage evergreens, so as soon as possible after a snowfall, brush snow from evergreen branches with a broom in an upward, sweeping fashion to avoid breakage.
☼ Avoid heavy traffic on dormant lawns which can damage or kill grass by breaking the crown of the plant.
☼ Consider a smaller, more efficient vegetable garden this season. With fewer weeds and insects, a smaller garden may produce more veggies.
☼ Check out 2015 garden catalogs for new varieties, improved pest and disease resistance as well as drought-tolerance. Don’t wait until late winter to order – many varieties sell out early.
☼ For houseplants: 1) turn and prune them for good shape, 2) pinch back new growth to promote bushiness, 3) check closely for insect infestation, e.g., spider mite, mealy bug & scale, 4) increase humidity levels by placing plants on trays lined with pebbles and filled with water, within a half inch of the base of the pot, 5) wash large-leaf plants, e.g., philodendron, dracaena, rubber plant, to remove dust and keep “pores” open, 6) wait until vigorous growth begins in spring to transplant pot-bound houseplants, 7) fertilize sparingly now, 8) water enough so it runs through the soil and out the drainage holes which helps reduce toxic salts and minerals.
☼ Maintain shovels, spades and hoes by soaking and scrubbing to remove dirt, then sharpening blades and coating with light oil to protect metal surfaces. Sand handles and paint them red or orange to preserve the wood and make the tools easier to find among the foliage.
☼ Start shallow trays of microgreens in a sunny windowsill. Leftover seeds for lettuce, spinach and arugula can be mixed and scattered over the surface. Or try a more exotic mix of beets, kale, radish, Chinese cabbages, mizuna, amaranth, pea, broccoli, mustard, sunflower and chard. Harvest by cutting close to the soil level when the seed leaves and the first true leaves have emerged.