Thursday, January 14, 2016

Timely Tips for Winter 2016

Photo courtesy Kristy

  • Seed catalog time! Be sure to look for disease and pest resistance when purchasing vegetable and flower seeds.
  • Know your plant hardiness zone.  Planting dates depend on the first and last average frost dates of your hardiness zone.  Bucks County is split into two zones. Search by zip code:
  • Plan your vegetable garden, rotating crops to discourage pests.
  • Start seeds of slow growers, such as parsley, thyme and rosemary.
  • When sowing seeds indoors, be sure to use sterile soil mediums to prevent diseases. As soon as seeds sprout, provide ample light to encourage stocky growth.
  • Make an inventory of the plants in your home landscape. Note their location and past performance. Plan changes on paper now.
  • Observe your garden’s "skeleton" and decide where to put new paths and structures like arbors.
  • Check for frost heaving on perennials and cover with extra mulch as necessary.
  • Now is the time to learn to identify trees by their winter twigs and buds!
  • Monitor trees & shrubs for winter damage.  Limbs damaged by ice or snow should be pruned off promptly to prevent bark from tearing.
  • Clean the dust from large and smooth-leaved houseplants like dracaena, philodendron and ficus on a regular basis. This allows the leaves to gather more light and results in better growth.
  • Monitor indoor plants for winter pests.  Fluffy, white mealy bugs are easily killed by touching them with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol.  Insecticidal soap sprays can be safely applied to most houseplants for the control of many insect pests.
  • Check stored summer bulbs and remove moldy, rotten, dried or shriveled bulbs.
  • Swap seeds and plant information with your gardening friends.
  • In February, if soil conditions allow, take a chance sowing peas, spinach and radish. If the weather obliges you’ll be rewarded with extra early harvests.
  • Prune forsythia, pussy willow, quince, etc. for forcing indoors.
  • On mild days, remove winter weeds like wild garlic and chickweed.

Kathleen Connally

Master Gardener Coordinator, Bucks County


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