Editor’s note: Kelly R. Jackson takes questions called into his phone recently at the Christian County Extension Office and answers them in the Garden Corner column.
It seems that gardening is a year-round activity. There is always something to do. If you are tired of being stuck inside during these winter months and can’t think of any gardening tasks, here are a few tips to get you thinking.
Just because the weather is cold, doesn’t mean the ground has frozen. The ground takes longer to cool off than the air. As long as the ground is not frozen and can accept water, you should water at least your newly planted evergreens. Most of the other plants are fairly dormant and not using much water. Evergreens, on the other hand, keep their needles all winter and continue to photosynthesis food. This process results in a loss of water through their needles. Keeping water supplied to the roots on a weekly basis as long as possible into the winter season will help reduce stress on evergreens.
Snow and ice on trees, shrubs
As we move into winter, the threat of damage from snow and ice is always a possibility. When snow piles up on evergreens, try to gently brush it off. Don’t shake the branches as this may cause them to break. If the snow is frozen on the branch and will not brush off easily, it is best to let it melt naturally, to avoid damage to the tree or shrub. If a tree limb breaks due to the weight of ice or snow, remove the broken limb as soon as weather permits. Hanging branches are a danger to passing pedestrians. Also, the wound will heal better if the damaged limb has been pruned away rather than left as a ragged stub.
Warm days of winter
Sometimes in the middle of winter, we suddenly get a few warm days. For the most part, this is not a big problem, but you should check some things. If you covered your roses with rose cones, you may need to ventilate the cone to prevent heat from building up inside. The same should be done with coldframes. If it is a warm, sunny day, the temperatures may be rising in the cold frame more than you expect. Remember to close vents as the temperature drops again at night. If bulbs start to poke through the ground too early – do nothing. Daffodils and other bulbs will return to dormancy as the temperatures drop again.
Turning to the indoor environment, we need to keep our holiday plants fresh and blooming. Most of our blooming holiday plants prefer to be in a cool room. This keeps the plant in flower longer. Most holiday plants also need a bright room (some do well with direct sun, others do not). Keep plants out of drafts to keep them in good health. Rotate plants regularly to prevent one-sided growth.
If you order seeds from a catalog, place your order by the end of January. Early orders help insure that you get the seeds you want and that you have them in time to start them indoors. Try starting seeds of herbs (such as parsley or basil) for a windowsill garden.
Kelly R. Jackson is the Christian County Extension Agent for horticulture. He can be reached at 270-886-6328 or visit Christian County Horticulture online at www.christiancountyextension.com.