“TalkIn' Dirt” will appear monthly in our newsletter "The Garden Gate" and on our award winning webpage providing helpful garden tips each month. Many of our club's lifelong gardeners have agreed to contribute their substantial gardening knowledge and encourage you to do the same. Please get me your tips by the 5th of the month so I can incorporate them into the monthly article. This information is only as good as the folks providing it. Bobbie Schoss reminds us “Time spent in the garden is added on to the end of your life!”
FEED THE BIRDS!
Please! Feed the birds and other small creatures that may not be able to find food due to snow on the ground or other causes.
For only a few dollars you can feed an enormous number of birds.
From Rochester, Joyce Hawkins reports seeing Oregon Junco, Black-capped Chickadee, Spotted Towhee, Anna Hummingbirds, Fox & House Sparrows, Eurasian Banded & Mourning Doves in addition to Red Winged Blackbirds at her feeders.
IN THE GARDEN
Start off your garden year right by laying the foundation for a great garden. Clean up leaves and fix up tools before plants really get growing. Rake leaves, pull obvious weeds, spruce up and sharpen hand tools and power tools.
Take the lawn mower in for a tune-up and blade-sharpening, or do it yourself, being sure to change the oil and clean or change the filter. A great tip is to keep an extra mower blade. Blades need to be sharpened three or four times during the growing season, so you can always have one on hand while the other is at the shop -- or on your workbench.
As the sun warm our days some of my bulbs get the foolish idea that spring was near. Probably not a good idea since more icy weather is almost sure to come. Add a little compost and a thick layer of mulch to protect the tender new growth. This is an excellent use for the branches of your discarded Christmas tree.
In the event of snow, be sure to shake or brush off the white stuff from the branches of your evergreens and shrubs. The light fluffy snow poses no real threat, but if it should become wet and frozen, the weight dramatically increases.
Branches are more brittle when the plants are dormant, and the weight of the snow may snap them off.
It's a good time to prune most of your deciduous trees and shrubs. Forsythia, Jasmine, Pussy Willow and Quince sprays can be cut and brought into the house now for forcing. The warmth in the home will bring some early bloom to your room.
Fireplace ashes can be saved to use a fertilizer for your Iris and other alkaline soil plants.
If the ground is workable at all (not frozen and not too wet), now is a great time to turn the soil. Not only will this expose insect eggs to the effects of winter and hungry birds, the freezing will help to break apart heavy clods of dirt.
Now is an excellent time to start some of those garden hammer-and-nail projects you've been wanting to do: window boxes, planters, arbors, and more. If you haven't already, start a garden journal or file. Tuck into it names of plants you like, magazine pictures, plant labels and seeds, and anything else that suits your fancy. If you're feeling crafty, make your own journal.
Order seeds, especially heirloom seeds if you want to grow varieties that you won’t find at local nurseries. Even if you don’t end up planting all the seeds you buy, you’ll still be helping out a business that is trying to save our supply of heirloom seeds.
Until February, Happy Gardening!!