Saturday, December 30, 2006


It's snowing again...which is nice to say this year. The ground, up until this week, has been brown, green, muddy and not very winter-like. But it has started snowing and our world is white as it should be in December. It appears that perhaps all is well here after all!
Christmas has come and gone. I've been spending some time working on that book I'm revising. I'm preparing for our New Year's morning "gathering", which is always fun. But I haven't posted anything to this blog for awhile. I apologize for that.
I have gotten the occasional question, to which I've responded. I've read all sorts of gardening articles talking about what gardeners talk about this time of year. Mostly catalogues!
Actually a few of them have talked about gardening resolutions for the new year and tips for what can be done right now in the garden. They've been interesting. Most of them are good common sense, but perhaps if you're a new gardener, you don't relate to them...YET!
Let me share a few of these wonderful articles with you. Here the first one:

"By resolving to stick to the following tips from the Plant Doctors at The American Phytopathological Society, you can enjoy healthy and beautiful plants all year long.

In the New Year, I resolve to:

  • Mulch my perennials after the ground freezes to help them overwinter comfortably even though temperatures may fluctuate.

  • When studying plant catalogs, look for pest- and disease-resistant plants, such as mildew-resistant phlox, Fusarium-resistant tomatoes and disease-resistant crabapples that will make my gardening job easier and keep my plants healthier.

  • Send a soil sample to a laboratory to learn what my lime and fertilizer needs are, rather than guessing.

  • Set plants in the ground only at the proper depth-deep planting harms roots and kills plants!

  • Use only the well-drained areas of my garden for plants-unless I purchase some swamp-loving species!

  • Inspect plants carefully before purchasing to find evidence of invaders such as spider mites, scale insects or mealybugs, or root swellings that might mean crown gall disease on plants such as flowering cherries or roses.

  • Spread a circle of mulch around young trees to keep lawn mowers from damaging the bark, leading to canker diseases later on.

  • Use only a few inches depth of mulch and keep it a few inches away from trunks and stems of plants to discourage crown rot.

  • Scout regularly for symptoms in the garden, so that I can pick off the occasional spotted leaf before problems escalate.

  • Irrigate new trees and shrubs the first two years especially during dry weather to help them establish good root systems.

  • Use a soaker hose or some type of irrigation system for the flower beds and vegetable garden that won't wet the foliage and encourage leaf spots.

  • Obtain a diagnosis when the cause of a problem is unclear or needs identification.

  • Prune only in dry weather, especially when pruning plants prone to fire blight, such as pears, crabapples and hawthorns.

  • Encourage beneficial insects and mites by minimizing use of broad- spectrum insecticides.

  • Join a Master Gardener class to learn more about the fun of growing and maintaining plants.

Happy New Year and happy gardening from the Plant Doctors at The American Phytopathological Society!

The American Phytopathological Society (APS) is a non-profit, professional scientific organization."

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Did you get a nice heavy coating of snow this week? We did!
When you are out shoveling, or sweeping, blowing or whatever you do with new snow, remember to give your broadleaf evergreen shrubs a bit of attention. That snow looks very pretty, but it is very hard on the shrubs. If it's a light dusting, there's no problem, but when we get a heavy snow that piles up on those leaves, it's a disaster waiting to happen. You'll notice that the branches are weighed down, drooping almost to the ground. Imagine if that were your arms having to hold onto that heavy stuff!
The next thing that happens is a thaw (usually). The snow begins to melt. Then evening comes and the temperature drops causing that wet snow to freeze. The problem is exacerbated. Now it's heavier, impossible to remove and branches begin to break at the slightest disturbance!
So, when you first go out to deal with the new snow, turn that shovel around and with it's handle, gently push the snow off the leaves. By using the handle, you avoid damaging the branches with the large blade of the shovel. Do this with all your broad leaved evergreens, or at least as many as you are concerned about. Sometimes, I realize they are too big, or not easily accessed. Use your judgement.
If you have gotten to the frozen snow stage, leave them alone until they have cleared themselves. If you attempt to remove ice from the branches, they will probably break, which would be terrible!

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Every few days I get an email from Marie Ianotti from "About:Gardening". It's an Internet branch of the NY Times. Sometimes she has incredibly interesting facts there. Today is one of those days!
Go to her site about Paperwhites - Using Alcohol to Keep Paperwhites from Falling Over. You'll be amazed, as I was, I'm sure!
Paperwhites do get top heavy as suggested here and if there is something you can use that will help you avert that "happening"...hey! Try it!!!

Saturday, December 02, 2006


There are still a few things that you can do outside. Grab one of our unseasonably warm, December days to do them. Here are some ideas!


If you can, dig a hole to put your live holiday tree in. Store the soil you dig out in the garage, or other non-frozen place so you can just dump it into the hole after the tree is planted!

Have you made "tee-pee's" to cover your smaller shrubs, protecting them from snow loads? Be sure they are out in the garden, doing their job! You can also wrap the plants, or shrubs in burlap.

Plant your pre-cooled bulbs in pots for some wonderful indoor color. Put them first in a cool and dark spot to begin growing roots. Water them, so they don't dry out.

If you haven't done it yet, put stakes around your gardens bordering driveways and roads where plowed snow might harm them. The stakes will guide the plow elsewhere!

Think about gardening tools, equipment and books as Christmas gifts.

Take a gardening break!

Any questions about December?