|Plan Ahead for a Beautiful Spring Garden|
Published: Friday, 02 February 2007 18:45
In the Garden
January is the best time to plan for your spring, summer and fall gardens. In January the weather is often foul, and the earth is so damp or cold that it is no time to plant. But it is a great time to plan ahead and decide what you can plant in your yard for this spring.
Have you ever planted a vegetable garden? In January the seed catalogs come out. Check out catalogs or Web sites for information on mail-order seeds; a quick Google search on “mail order seeds and plants” offers literally thousands of choices. Or just check out the old faithful gardening standby, Burpee Seeds, at www.burpee.com.
The Burpee company was founded in Philadelphia in 1876 by an 18-year-old with a passion for plants and animals and a mother willing to lend him $1,000 dollars of “seed money” to get started in business. Within 25 years he had developed the largest, most progressive seed company in America. By 1915 the company was mailing a million catalogues a year to America’s gardeners.
They will send a free catalog if you go to the Web site and fill out your name and address. Then you can peruse the catalog at your leisure while the storms blow outside.
Get out your notebook or sketch pad and roughly draw out your yard. Where is it shady? What areas get sun? Where do you have trees or shrubs? Are there bare posts? Can you add an item of interest, like a raised bed, a rock garden, a waterfall or a pond? Can you add a piece of statuary, a topiary or a bench? Can you add a fruit tree or a hedge, an herb garden or a meandering path? What about a sandbox or play area for the kids, or maybe an outdoor fire pit or grill area?
Consider if you would like to improve your yard with these elements, and then look at the plants you could use in these areas. Water lilies for your pond, Irish moss for the walkway, an espaliered pear tree for the back fence — make a list of what you’d like to plant or amend in your yard, and start the process. Let 2007 be the year that you finally clean out the gazebo or plant the kiwi tree, whatever it is you want for your garden.
On a simpler level, what about bare spots in the yard. Have you ever planted bulbs before? It may be too late to plant spring bulbs for 2007, but summer and fall bulbs for 2007 are still possible. And next fall you can plant for the following spring bloom.
n Is your lawn growing poorly or does it have bare spots? Damp winter months are a good time to sow seeds to fill in the bare spots. Don’t plant when it’s stormy, but try to hit a stretch of clear weather. Rake the soil to rough it up. Sprinkle grass seed liberally and cover them with topsoil. Step on the topsoil to press it firmly down. Water it and keep the area moist. If it rains heavily you may have to reseed, but these seeds should sprout and show their light green blades of grass within two weeks.
n January and February are recommended months for dormant spraying of trees and shrubs. Check with your nursery for specifics of which spray for which plant.
n It’s not too late to lay down a winter mulch in flower beds or other areas. Mulching will cut down on weeds and keep the plant warm in frosty weather. Use dead leaves, small branches from your Christmas tree or shredded newspaper. (A word about your old Christmas tree — never burn them in the fireplace; pine trees burn too hot and its sap can be explosive. Cut it up and put it into the green waste can instead.)
n Houseplants can be planted at any time of year, so why not in January, when it’s too wet outdoors to do much gardening. Fill a small pot with vermiculite and water till the vermiculite is damp, not soggy. Sprinkle the seeds on top. Try African violet, impatiens, coleus or kalanchoe from seeds. It is not necessary to cover the seeds, as they are very small. Place a small plastic bag over the pot and seal with a rubber band or twist-tie to make a small greenhouse. You won’t have to water again until the seeds have germinated.