Spring Garden Tips

Melinda's Gardening Tips for Late December

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.


The perfect last minute gift may be hiding in the shed or garage. Those extra pruners, spare shovel or rake may be just what your gardening friend needs. A little cleanup and a pretty bow is a great way to take that tool out of storage and put it to work in someone else's garden. The same goes with extra pots, tomato towers and other items that are cluttering the garage.

Growing Green

Deicing salts can damage and even kill trees, shrubs and lawns. Shovel first to minimize the need for deicing compounds. Then use some of the more plant friendly products like calcium magnesium acetate. Sand and some of the new corn by products provide traction, but can plug sewers. 

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Gardening Tips for Flowers

Work off some of those holiday goodies with a walk around the yard. Check out the winter interest in your flower beds. Enjoy those plants that are providing interest or attracting birds. Make notes on areas that need a bit of improvement. Perhaps you need some more perennials with attractive form or persistent seed heads. Or consider adding some small ornamental shrubs or dwarf conifers. These can provide an attractive framework for the perennial garden. And for those with deep snow consider tall ornamental grasses and perennials that will peak through the snow drifts. Make a few notes, take some pictures and refer to these when you start planning next year's garden.

A Fabulous Garden in 5 Easy Steps

Fall Landscape Care in 5 Easy Steps


Gardening Tips for Edibles

There is still time to start a windowsill garden. Use leftover seeds or scour the garden centers for their leftover inventory. Leafy crops such as lettuce do well in low light. Mix in radishes and miniature carrots for some zing. Onions, parsley, basil, chives, and other herbs are always a good suggestion for indoor gardens.

Apply winter mulch to help perennial herbs, vegetables and fruit through harsh winter conditions. Winter mulching helps insulate the plants from the cycles of freezing and thawing that can heave the crowns out of the ground. Wait until the ground freezes to apply marsh hay, clean wheat straw, or evergreen boughs over smaller plants. Mulching the soil around the plants with shredded leaves, evergreen needles or woodchips also helps insulate the roots. If nature has blanketed your garden with snow, the job is complete. You just may want to keep some mulching materials handy if your area experiences a winter thaw.

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Trees, Shrubs and Roses

Quality tools are worth the investment. A good pruning tool will make a clean cut with minimal effort on your part. Hand pruners work great on smaller materials, 1/2 inch or less. Loppers' long handles add reach and extra power to cut slightly larger branches. A good saw will slice through larger shrub stems and tree branches. Many tool manufacturers are making ergonomic tools that reduce strain and increase cutting power. Add these to your holiday gift list or consider buying a good pruning tool for your favorite gardener. They will thank you with each cut they make.

Wildlife can be a wonderful addition to the landscape. Their movements and antics can be entertaining. Make a list of the visitors to your winter garden. Note what plants helped to bring them in. Unfortunately, some wildlife visitors do more damage than we want to tolerate. Protect plants from unwanted damage. Fencing, scare tactics and repellents may help reduce wildlife damage.

Upright arborvitae, junipers and yews can flop over or break from the weight of ice and snow. Avoid the temptation to brush or wash snow and ice off the plants. Instead prevent damage by loosely tying the stems with twine, clear netting or cloth strips. This holds the branches together, strengthening them from the weight of snow.

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Lawns and Groundcovers

Don't fertilize lawns, groundcovers or other landscape plantings when the ground is frozen. It is a waste of time, money and bad for the environment. Fertilizer spread on frozen soil simply washes away with the first rain or snow melt. The fertilizer rich runoff enters our waterways, adding to water pollution.

So sit back and enjoy the break. Spring will soon be here and you will have plenty of time to enjoy the beauty and exercise that your lawn provides.

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Tips for Indoor Plants

Dress up your houseplants for the holidays. A few colorful branches added to a planter can create a festive mood. Or try adding a few cut flowers. Purchase a few water picks from your florist or craft store. Fill with water and add a few cut flowers. Sink the pick in the soil of your favorite houseplant. You will be amazed what a little floral boost can do for your houseplants appearance and your holiday spirits.

This also makes a great holiday or hostess gift. Share a few extra houseplants or purchase some new ones. Add a decorative basket or foil wrap. Mix in a few cut flowers and fancy bow and you have a living centerpiece and gift in one.

Yellowing leaves on poinsettias is a common problem this time of the season. Start by checking the foil, basket or saucer for standing water. Dump any excess water that has collected. Then place a layer of pebbles on the bottom, set the pot on top and you have solved the problem. Water will collect in the pebbles below the plant roots.

Next make sure the plants are receiving enough light. They have moved from the brightly lit greenhouse to the dimmer confines of your home. Move to a cool but sunny location to keep the leaves green. Fold down the decorative foil that may be blocking the sunlight. A little corrective care now can improve their health and beauty for the season.

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