Editor’s note: Kelly R. Jackson’s Garden Corner column features questions called into his phone recently at the Christian County Extension Office. He answers them in the column.
Question. My spring bulbs are coming up because of warm temperatures. Should I be concerned?
Answer. During this season it’s not uncommon for temperatures to fluctuate a great deal. Plants are affected by the extremes in temperatures. For example, forsythia and spirea may begin blooming and trees may begin to leaf-out.
Although some of the flower and leaf buds may be damaged when the temperature drops back to the norm, mature plants will survive. What about bulbs? Bulbs seem more tender than woody plants and cause even experienced gardeners concern when their green foliage begins peeking through the ground during a winter warm spell.
Luckily, there is no need for worry. Spring-blooming bulbs are tough and usually not damaged by conflicting temperatures. In fact, bulbs like snowdrops and crocuses are supposed to come up early, often when there is still snow on the ground. Applying a 3-inch layer of mulch to bulb beds in the fall or before the ground freezes, will help regulate soil temperatures and may help avoid premature growth in late winter.
Q. I’m done with my cut Christmas tree. What do I do with it now?
A. City residents can place old trees by the curb for pickup on their regular day of tree limbs and trash. People from outside the city limits can bring their trees to the landfill during normal business hours.
But there are some other options people don’t always consider when putting away Christmas. While the kids are at home, consider making a temporary bird habitat. Pine cones smeared with peanut butter and rolled in birdseed can be tied to the branches to provide bird’s an easy snack, and the evergreen braches provide shelter to smaller birds on cold nights. If you have an outdoor fire pit, you could cut up your tree and have a winter-time wiener roast complete with hot chocolate and warm blankets. The branches, especially after drying out indoors during the holidays, will make a quick flame starter.
Because your tree has not been seasoned, it’s not recommend to burn in an indoor fireplace as it may contribute to creosote build-up.
Finally, since pine, spruce and other evergreens do not significantly impact the soil pH, running the tree through a chipper and using it in your compost pile or directly as mulch is another good idea.
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.