Gardening Month by Month
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Tip 1: When shoveling or blowing snow, try to dump it atop perennials -- as long as it doesn't have any salt in it. Snow is often called "white mulch" and a good blanket of it will protect plants from temperature extremes.
 
Tip 2: Use calcium chloride instead of sodium chloride on your walks. It does less damage to plants. Or, better yet, use sand, which doesn't hurt your plants a bit.
 
Tip 3: If you're feeling ambitious and eco-friendly, instead of leaving your Christmas tree on the curb, cut off the branches and lay them around the bases of roses or over perennials as a winter mulch. Less to put in the landfill!

Prune Trees and Shrubs:  On those occasional nice days this month and next, take the opportunity to prune trees and prune shrubs. Be careful with flowering trees and shrubs -- you don't want to trim off developing buds. As a rule of thumb, prune flowering trees and shrubs within a month or so after they flower. And wait on oaks and walnuts. They should be pruned in July to avoid wilt diseases.

On those same nice days, go outside and check on your perennials. Temperature extremes of highs and lows tend to create frost heave and some shallow-rooted plants are slightly uprooted. Press them down firmly with your foot, something old-timers call "the February stomp."

Reduce your grocery bills this year by growing your own food. It's easier than you think to enjoy fresh-from-the-garden fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Plant cool-season varieties, such as radishes, peas, lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower as soon as you can work the ground this month -- these plants survive frosty weather. While you're out, add some pansies to your spring vegetable garden. They'll add color, and you can use the cheery blooms in salads.

If you want to get a jump start on the season, plant seeds of warm-loving varieties such as tomatoes, eggplants, & peppers indoor under fluorescent lights.

JANUARY
FEBRUARY
MARCH

Divide: most perennials once they've sent up significant foliage at least a couple of inches tall. Divide if they are getting crowded or you simply want more plants.

Deadhead spent flowerheads. Plant container-grown trees, shrubs, perennial herbs, and perennial flowers, pots, windowboxes, and containers with cool-season flowers that can withstand frost and even snow. Pansies are a favorite. 

Pruning, if you haven't already, roses once signs of growth are well underway -- the red leaf buds have started to swell and just barely started to unfurl. Prune evergreens any time from now until late summer. (Don't prune later than that or you'll prompt new, tender growth that will get zapped by winter's cold.)
APRIL

Once the danger of frost has passed you can go ahead and plant warm-season annuals (tomatoes, peppers, basil, marigolds, petunias and the like).

Time to move your houseplants outdoors to a shady spot after repotting and fertilizing to ready them for a summer growth spurt. Plant tender summer bulbs outdoors, including glads, cannas, and tuberous begonias.  Planting of container-grown trees, shrubs, perennial herbs, and perennial flowers can be done safely now.

Mulch Matters -- By the end of the month or early next month, the soil will have warmed up enough that you can apply a layer of mulch on flower beds and around trees and shrubs. As a rule of thumb, apply this mulch once the tulips have faded. Mulch reduces weeds, conserves moisture, and prevents disease. Call Kevin to arrange for your mulch delivery and installation.

You may be able to get another crop of quick-maturing, cool-season vegetables ( radish, lettuce, or spinach) if you sow the seeds early this month. Here's a hint: If the summer get hot early, plant lettuce, spinach, and other greens in the shade. They'll stay cooler -- and that can keep them going longer.

It should now be safe to plant your warm-weather vegetables (tomatoes, peppers,eggplants, corn, squash, and pumpkins). During dry spells, water your vegetable garden deeply, but infrequently.
Reduce your watering bill and help protect your vegetables from fungal diseases by using a soaker hose. Stop harvesting your rhubarb and asparagus; they need to produce a healthy crop of leaves for the rest of the summer to gather energy and give you abundant harvests next year.
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