Whether you are hoping for a big harvest, a beautiful landscape, or a little stress relief, knowing the when and how of gardening will help you be a success. Use these timely garden tips to eliminate some of the guesswork. For more gardening tips, check out Melinda's gardening books.
Recycle and decorate glass or other containers to use as cut flower vases for your favorite valentine. A pretty ribbon around the neck of a pasta sauce jar can make the perfect container for a mixed bouquet. Paint a pot and fill it with a houseplant and a few red accents for your favorite gardener.
Gardening Tips for Flowers
The catalogs are piling up and the multitude of choices can be overwhelming. Start reducing the options by limiting your choices to plants hardy to your area. Perennials, trees, shrubs, and bulbs are listed as hardy in certain areas based on their ability to survive the average minimal temperature of the area.
Once you narrow down your choice to the hardiest of the group, see if the growing conditions in your yard match those the plants prefer. Matching the plant to your growing conditions will save you lots of work and increase your success. Then look for award winners. Plants like the All-America Selection Winners have been trialed across the country for their garden performance. And then look for colors, form and sizes that fit your garden design.
Fluctuating temperatures are a common occurrence in winter. Unseasonably warm temperatures in colder regions cause bulbs and other perennials to peek through the soil a bit too soon. Many plants can survive this changeable weather with minimal permanent damage. Concerned gardeners can cover tender plants with evergreen boughs or straw once cold temperatures return and the ground freezes.
Gardening Tips for Edibles
Start planning your vegetable garden for the coming growing season. Get the whole family involved. Include family favorites, try something new and don't forget to design in some fun. If everyone helps plan the garden, they may be more likely to eat the vegetables and even help with the weeding.
Then plan in a few extra rows for this year's garden. An extra row of beans or another tomato or pepper plant means fresh produce for your local food pantry. Your surplus vegetables can provide hungry seniors and children in your community with nutritious food. Plus, it is a great excuse to expand the garden and buy a few more vegetables. For more information contact the Garden Writers Association Plant-a-Row for the Hungry website.
Trees, Shrubs and Roses
February and Valentine's Day means lots of roses. After giving and receiving a few this month you may want to try adding a few to your garden. Don't let past failures or the fear of high maintenance prevent you from giving roses a try. Many of the new shrub roses are attractive, hardy and pest resistant. Contact your local botanical garden or Extension Service to find out which roses perform the best for your area. Then check out the All-America Rose Selections. These award-winning roses have been tested at over 25 locations in the United States. They were selected as winners based upon their flower form, pest resistance, fragrance, growth habit, or other feature. Visit www.rose.org for more information.
Beat the winter blues by bringing a little spring indoors. Prune a few branches from spring flowering trees and shrubs to force for indoor bloom. Forsythia, quince, pussy willow, crabapples and magnolias make nice additions to flower arrangements or in a vase on their own.
Lawns and Groundcovers
This is a great time to take your lawn mower and other lawn care equipment to the repair shop for any maintenance they may need. Remember to have your mower blade sharpened and consider buying a spare. This allows you to always have a sharp blade without missing a cutting. Do it now to beat that spring rush!
Never apply fertilizer to frozen soil. Melting snow and winter rains wash fertilizer off the soil surface and into nearby storm sewers, rivers, and lakes. This is a waste of time and money and bad for the environment.
Tips for Indoor Plants
Roses are a traditional Valentine's Day favorite. Most of us have had the unfortunate experience of giving or receiving cut roses that developed nodding necks. The stem below the flower bud bends before the flowers even open. Good news! You can revive the roses and extend their vase life. Cut the stem and lay the roses in warm water - stems, flowers and all. Wait half an hour. Recut the stem and place in a vase of fresh water. Now you can truly enjoy this valentine treat!
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