Out with the old, in with the new. Take a little time this month to go through your seed stash and make a list of new seeds and seed-starting supplies you will need. Test the seeds you saved from last year’s garden by putting 10 in a damp, rolled up paper towel. Keep it in a warm place and check it every couple of days. If 8 of the 10 seeds germinate, you can estimate that the remaining seeds have about an 80% germination rate; if 5 sprout, then about half the saved seeds can be expected to sprout in your garden, too. This will help you decide whether you need to plant extras, just in case, or purchase new seeds.
This is also a good time to relax indoors and sketch plans for hardscaping. Consider edging, raised beds, walkways and decks you’d like to add or change once the weather warms up.
- For some welcome indoor color, try African violets. They bloom reliably as long as they have sufficient light. GIve them a south-facing window this winter, or place them under fluorescent grow lights.
- Most houseplants need a period of rest. Stop feeding them now and cut back on watering.
- As the natural light levels decrease, you may need to move plants that are actively growing for better light exposure. Clean your windows to get as much light as possible, or set up a grow light stand.
- Sort through your stored tubers, roots and bulbs of cannas, gladiolas, and begonias. Dispose of any that have shriveled or decayed.
- If dahlia tubers are looking shriveled, lightly spray the material they are packed in with some tepid water.
- Before you spread the wood ashes from your wood burning stove or fireplace over garden beds, test your soil. You don’t want to go above a pH of 7.0. If your pH is lower, bring it up by removing any chunks from the ashes and then spreading them at a rate of 15 to 20 pounds (about a 5-gallon pail) per 1000 square feet. Test again to make sure the pH level is where you want it.
- Rosemary can be tricky to grow indoors but having this fragrant herb available for recipes is worth some effort. Give your plant the brightest, coolest spot in your home. Avoid overwatering, but don’t let the plant dry out either. Wait until spring to begin fertilizing; you can transplant it into the garden after the weather warms up.
- If you’re thinking of adding natives to your landscape this spring, consider red and yellow twig dogwoods, nannnyberry, highbush cranberry, or holly. Next winter, all will add color to the bare landscape, thanks to their interesting bark and berries.