Sunday, March 14, 2010

Late Winter Chores

 This title has a double meaning. Chores that can be done during the down time gardeners have during winter and the fact that I am late getting some of those chores done.
 Winter is the perfect time for pruning. Take a walk around the property and look for shrubs and trees that have gotten out of hand. Are they shading too much of your growing area? Are they hanging over property lines, too close to power lines?
 Look at each individual tree, whether fruiting or ornamental. Prune out any branches growing towards the inside of the tree. Remove any branches that are rubbing together or crossing each other. Open up the inside for good air circulation. When cutting at the trunk get as close to the trunk as possible; don't leave any stubs for disease or bugs to find a home. I don't apply anything to the cuts. I feel they heal on their own just fine.
Think of your tree as a big balloon. Prune out any branches that protrude outside that imaginary balloon.
Remember, safety first. Consult or hire a professional for anything that you feel is beyond your scope.
 Dig out all your tools and get them ready. ( I guess I should have mentioned this before talking about the pruning. ) Sharpen blades and clean  off any rust. Give them a good lube. ( I like that!) Disinfect pruners trowels etc. Get your lawn mower out and make sure fluids are fresh and the blades are straight and sharpened. Find all your hoses and sprinklers and nozzles. Replace any washers.
Dig out your garden journal and plan for this years garden. Make sure to rotate crops and make the most of your space by plotting out beds. Take a trip to the library or your own bookshelf and check out some books on square foot gardening, organic gardening, composting. If you don't already, think about starting a compost or worm bin.Home Depot even has composters for sale this year!
 Think outside of the box. Make the most of the space you have.  There are alot of veggies adapted for pots. Potatoes love growing in old tires. Cucumbers, tomatoes,  zucchinis, have bush varieties that do well in pots. Think vertical. Hang baskets of tomatoes, herbs.
Look thru garden catalogs. Try something different. And plant extra. Local food banks appreciate fresh food to help feed people who might otherwise not get the opportunity for a vine-ripened tomato or a head of lettuce. And get your kids involved. They might like to eat those beans and squash if they had a hand in growing them. Granddaughter Cheyenne already has broccoli,  swiss chard, beans and cucumbers coming up in her flat in the greenhouse.

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