It's time to start sharpening your axe...
Many of us find fault with the winter months. The first snowfall is pretty but after that, we complain. Expensive heating bills, getting dark early, and potential cabin fever is common. We should look take example from our plants. We all need to have some down time to rest and rejuvenate. This is the time to dream, plan, and design what you want for next year's growing season. Repair and sharpen your tools. Look around your yards and gardens to see where you may be able to put the next plant that you just can't resist bringing home from the nursery. Look ahead and schedule some gardening field trips to arboretums and gardens. Attend some local garden clubs and organizations as a guest and consider joining. Try some new flower or vegetable varieties and share your successes (and failures) with your fellow gardeners. Start preparing now-spring will be here before we can say "Punxsutawney Phil"!
February 29 to March 8, 2020
Philadelphia Flower Show
March 6 to March 8, 2020
Please visit our website for more information
Lehigh Valley Flower and Garden Show
Agri-Plex, Allentown Fairgrounds
February 20 to April 16, 2020
Landscape Design Essentials
Northampton Community College
Cultivate beautiful natural environments by following a few simple rules of the trade. This course defines all the fundamentals of creating and installing a new style of garden design. From the Elements and Principles of Landscape Design to the particular choice of materials, you will gain appreciation of gardening from the roots to the ground and up. The final class brings everything together in an evening of inspiring designs and thought-provoking discussion. Taught by Lori Metz, horticulturist, landscape designer, and owner of Carriage House Landscape Design. Click this link for more info or to register.
Please contact Lori if you would like to submit any events for your organization to be listed here at no charge.
Once upon a time, a very strong woodcutter asked a timber merchant for a job and he got it. The pay was really good and so were the working conditions. For those reasons, the woodcutter was determined to do his best. His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was supposed to work. The first day, the woodcutter brought 18 trees. "Congratulations," the boss said. "Go on that way!" Very motivated by his words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he could only bring 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder, but he could only bring 10 trees. Day after day he was bringing less and less trees. "I must be losing my strength", the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on. "When was the last time you sharpened your axe?" the boss asked. "Sharpened? I've had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees..."
Our lives are like that. We sometimes get so busy that we don't take time to sharpen the "axe". In today's world, it seems that everyone is busier than ever, but less happy than ever.
Why is that? Could it be that we have forgotten how to stay "sharp"? There's nothing wrong with activity and hard work. But we should not get so busy that we neglect the truly important things in life, like our personal life, giving more time to our family, taking time to read etc.
We all need time to relax, think and meditate, time to learn and grow. If we don't take the time to sharpen the "axe", we will become dull and lose our effectiveness.
January In Your Garden
- To clean heavily encrusted clay pots, scrub them with a steel wool pad after they have soaked overnight in a solution consisting of one gallon water to which one cup of white vinegar has been added. After the deposits are removed rinse the pots in clear water. A brief soak in a solution of one gallon of water to which one cup household bleach has been added will help sanitize the pots.
- Some plants are sensitive to the fluorine and chlorine in tap water. Water containers should stand overnight to allow these gases to dissipate before using on plants.
- Wash the dust off of houseplant leaves on a regular basis. This allows the leaves to gather light more efficiently and will result in better growth.
- Set the pots of humidity-loving houseplants on trays filled with pebbles and water. Pots should sit on the pebbles, not in the water.
- Allow tap water to warm to room temperature before using on houseplants.
- Fluffy, white mealy bugs on houseplants are easily killed by touching them with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol.
- Insecticidal soap sprays can be safely applied to most houseplants for the control of many insect pests.
- Did you receive a plant as a gift? Quarantine them to be sure they do not harbor any insect pests.
- Amaryllis aftercare: Remove spent flower after blooming. Set the plant in a bright sunny window to allow the leaves to fully develop. Keep the soil evenly moist, not soggy. Fertilize occasionally with a general purpose houseplant formulation.
- Make a resolution to keep records of your garden this year.
- Avoid foot traffic on frozen lawns as this may injure turf grasses.
- Store wood ashes in sealed, fireproof containers. Apply a dusting around lilacs, baby's breath, asters, lilies and roses in spring. Do not apply to acid-loving plants. Excess ashes may be composted.
- Check all fruit trees for evidence of rodent injury to bark. Use baits or traps where necessary.
- Cakes of suet hung in trees will attract insect-hunting woodpeckers to your garden.
- Brightly colored paints applied to the handles of tools will make them easier to locate in the garden.
- Gently remove snow from plants. If left, it weighs them down, sometimes breaking branches.
- Order seeds early to avoid disappointment later.
- Arrange to have the cutting blades on your lawn mower sharpened.
- Christmas tree boughs can be used to mulch garden perennials.
- If you didn't get your bulbs planted before the ground froze, plant them immediately in individual peat pots and place the pots in flats. Set them outside where it is cold and bury the bulbs under thick blankets of leaves. Transplant them into the garden any time weather permits.
- Seed and nursery catalogs arrive. While reviewing garden catalogs, look for plants with improved insect, disease and drought-tolerance to reduce the need for pesticides and chemicals.
- Old Christmas trees can be recycled outdoors as a feeding station for birds. String garlands of peanuts, popcorn, cranberries, fruits and suet through their boughs.
- Try sprouting a test sample of left over seeds before ordering new seeds for spring. (Roll up 10 seeds in a damp paper towel. Keep moist and warm. Check for germination in a week. If fewer than half sprout, order fresh seed.)
- Gently brush off heavy snows from tree and shrub branches.
- Limbs damaged by ice or snow should be pruned off promptly to prevent bark from tearing.
- Check stored summer bulbs such as dahlias, cannas and gladioli to be sure they are not rotting or drying out.
- To reduce injury, allow ice to melt naturally from plants. Attempting to remove ice may damage plants further.
- Use sand, bird seed, sawdust or vermiculite to gain traction on icy paths. Avoid salt or ice melters as these may injure plants.
- Make an inventory of the plants in your home landscape. Note their location and past performance. Plan changes on paper now.
- Flowers grown as half-hardy annuals to sow this month in gentle warmth in a greenhouse: Lobelia, Petunia, and Salvia (patens/splendens).
- Flowers to sow this month in gentle warmth to produce plants for greenhouses and home decorations: African Violet, Cape Primrose, Common Gloxinia, Cyclamen, and Temple Bells.
||Spotted Lanternfly egg masses.
Pests and Problems
- 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.
- Continue to inspect indoor plants closely for insect pests such as aphids, spider mites, scale, and whitefly.
- Aphids (Hemiptera) are a common problem on indoor plants. Sticky honeydew on leaves is a common first sign that they are present.
- Also check for whitefly, mealybugs and thrips. Treat if necessary.
- Use salt with caution or not at all around plants or you risk causing salt damage. The damage may not be evident until late winter or early spring as temperatures warm.
- Examine herbaceous perennials for signs of plants being lifted out of the soil by frost heaving. Also make sure overwintering roses have ample protection for the coldest months of the year.
- Damping off can be a problem on young seedlings. Also, insufficient light can result in spindly growth on seedling. Keep an eye out for fungus gnats.
- Remove and dispose of the foliage of plants such as roses, peonies, iris, daylilies, apples, horsechestnut, which are subject to annual fungal leaf diseases.
- Scout for, remove, and dispose of bagworms and cedar-apple rust galls on junipers anytime now until spring. Also check arborvitae, spruce, crabapples, and oaks for bagworms.
- Help prevent creating dead area in your lawn by refraining from walking over frozen lawn.
- Stop fertilizing and reduce watering of indoor plants during winter. Uneven watering can result in oedema.
- Heavy snow on trees and shrubs, especially evergreens can lead to breakage. Brush off snow carefully before it melts and refreezes and becomes difficult to remove. Allow ice to melt off naturally. Ice causes branches to become brittle and easily broken.
- Diseased branches in apples, pears, pyracantha and other plants in the rose family that were killed by fireblight can be safely removed in mid-winter. If not removed in winter, wait until dry weather in summer. Avoid pruning plants susceptible to fireblight during spring when the bacteria can easily enter cuts resulting from pruning.
- If overwintering dormant tender perennials or tropicals in a garage or basement monitor the temperature and moisture levels closely to avoid freezing, drying out or rotting due to overly wet, cold soil. Check stored bulbs for signs of desiccation or rotting.
- Do not add wood ashes to your garden without first finding out area's pH. Wood ashes raise soil pH at an approximate rate equal to 1/2 of an equivalent amount of lime.