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Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” —Marcel Proust
Let your soul blossom.
I inherited my love of plants from my Grandmother. I have many fond memories of helping her pull our little wagon loaded with houseplants around the yard in spring to plant outside for the summer. I still have a large Boston fern and shrimp plants that were hers. She would patiently explain things or answer my many childish questions about plants. At the time I would have never imagined that I would become a horticulturist! She would also search the lawn for dandelion greens around Eastertime and we would have dandelions and hot bacon dressing. Yum! (That is one of many reasons my interest in foraging and wild edibles has been growing.)

When I think back to all the other people that have taught me, even the smallest thing, about plants, insects, soils, fertilizers, pruning - anything related to growing, it is no surprise that it is a long list. Good thing about gardeners is that they are willing to share both their harvests and their knowledge. I hope I am able to pass my enthusiasm for growing things to others and they can share it with even more people. Share your garden knowledge with someone - you never know what it could lead to!
Wranglers and Stranglers
From A Touch of Wonder by Arthur Gordon
Many years ago, there was a group of brilliant young men at the University of Wisconsin. The group of men seemed to have an amazing creative literary talent and were extraordinary in their ability to put their literary skills to their best use. These promising young men met regularly to read and critique each other’s literary works.

These men were merciless while they criticized one another. They dissected the most minute of the expressions and offered tough and even mean criticism to each other’s work. Their meeting sessions became arenas of literary criticism, and the members of this exclusive club called themselves the “Stranglers.”

Not to be excluded for the opportunity to level up their literary skills, women of literary interest in the university started a club of their own, one comparable to the “Stranglers.” The members call themselves the “Wranglers.” The members of the club too presented their literary pieces in front of each other. But the feedback from members was much softer, more positive, and more encouraging. Every effort from a member, even the most feeble one, was encouraged by all.

After twenty years, a university alumnus was doing a study of his classmates’ careers when he noticed a huge difference in the literary accomplishments of the Stranglers and the Wranglers.

Among all the brilliant young men in the Stranglers, none had made any significant literary achievement. But the Wranglers had several successful writers and some renowned literary talents.

The talent and education between the two groups were almost the same. There was not much difference. The Stranglers strangled each other while the Wranglers gave each other a lift. The Stranglers created an atmosphere of contention and self-doubt, while the Wranglers brought out the best in each other.
February In Your Garden
Edibles
ALL WEEKS   
  • Do you have all the seeds that you would like? Start getting them together, along with your containers and growing medium, and plan your garden. It will be time to start the some of the seeds in the next few weeks.
  • If you will be growing tomatoes and cucumbers, you may want to start saving your egg shells to add to the soil when you transplant your seedlings to the garden.
  • Season extending devices such as cold frames, hot beds, cloches, and floating row covers will allow for an early start to the growing season.
  • Run a germination test on seeds stored from previous years to see if they will still sprout.
  • Inspect fruit trees for tent caterpillar egg masses. Eggs appear as dark brown or gray collars that encircle small twigs. Destroy by pruning or scratching off with your thumbnail.
  • Collect scion wood now for grafting of fruit trees later in spring. Wrap bundled scions with plastic and store them in the refrigerator.

Miscellaneous
ALL WEEKS                                    
  • On warm, sunny winter days, scout for Spotted Lanternfly egg masses and scrape as many as you can reach to help control populations. Bottom line with SLF: Kill them if you can. Use recommended practices. Don't move them around. 
  • To avoid injury to lawns, keep foot traffic to a minimum when soils are wet or frozen. When sowing seeds indoors, be sure to use sterile soil mediums to prevent diseases. As soon as seeds sprout, provide ample light to encourage stocky growth.
  • Re-pot any root-bound house plants now before vigorous growth occurs. Choose a new container that is only 1 or 2 inches larger in diameter than the old pot. Interested in learning more about houseplants? Penn State is running a Houseplant Master Class. Click this link for more info: Houseplant Master Class
  • To extend the vase life of cut flowers you should: 1. - Re-cut stems underwater with a sharp knife. 2. - Remove any stem foliage that would be underwater. 3. - Use a commercial flower preservative. 4. - Display flowers in a cool spot, away from direct sunlight Now is a good time to learn to identify trees by their winter twigs and buds.
  • Branches of pussy willow, quince, crabapple, forsythia, pear, and flowering cherry may be forced indoors. Place cut stems in a vase of water and change the water every 4 days. (Photo showing Quince 'Orange Storm')
  • Watch for squirrels feeding on the tender, swollen buds of Elms, Hickories, Oaks and other trees as spring approaches.
  • Maple sugaring time is here! Freezing nights and mild days make the sap flow.
  • Begin to fertilize house plants as they show signs of new growth. Plants that are still resting should receive no fertilizers yet.

Ornamentals
ALL WEEKS               
  • Mild temperatures may cause Hellebores to bloom earlier than usual. Be sure to enjoy the early flowers.
  • Winter aconite (Eranthis sp.) and snowdrops (Galanthus sp.) are hardy bulbs for shady gardens that frequently push up through snow to bloom now.
  • Water evergreens if the soil is dry and unfrozen.
  • Inspect summer bulbs in storage to be sure none are drying out. Discard any that show signs of rot.
  • Enjoy the fragrant blooms of the Witch Hazel flowering in shrub borders or wooded areas on warm sunny days. (Photo showing Hamamelis vernalis 'Amethyst')
  • Take geranium cuttings now. Keep the foliage dry to avoid leaf and stem diseases.
  • Re-firm plants loosened by the action of frost.
  • Consider adding a rock garden which creates a home for alpines, bulbs, dwarf conifers and small herbaceous plants. Do not position rock gardens under trees.

Be on the Lookout - Pests and Problems
  • Prune out black knot in plums and cherries.
  • Scout for and remove bagworms and cedar-apple rust galls on evergreens. (Photo showing rust gall on Juniper)
  • Continue to look for Spotted Lantern Fly egg masses and destroy any you find.
  • Inspect indoor plants for insects.
  • Inspect for and remove tent caterpillar egg masses on apples and other trees. Easy to remove now without needing chemicals by pruning.
  • Don’t destroy praying mantid egg casings! Praying mantid egg cases will hatch into beneficial, insect-eating "machines." They even eat Spotted Lanternfly!
  • Apply dormant oil sprays for controlling scale on pines, magnolias and other plants.            
  • Water needled and broadleaf evergreens as well as any plants newly planted last fall during dry periods when the soil is not frozen.            
  • Examine perennials for frost heaving. Do not work wet soils.     
  • If you decide to apply fertilizer on cool-season grasses in spring, hold off until May.     
  • Try to complete winter pruning of fruit trees by the end of February or early March to limit the spread of diseases, such as fireblight. Pruning wounds made in early spring as opposed to those made in late winter may also attract insects.

Need help diagnosing plant problems, deciding treatments, or identifying plants?
Call me - I'll be happy to help! Lori (484) 483-3495
PO Box 541
Nazareth, PA 18064-0541
484-483-3495