The Darkest Days in the Garden
Winter in the garden means less light, less growth, and fewer flowers but it shouldn’t mean less care. Watch your plants closely, especially during these gorgeous, mild sunny days.
The ground can still dry out regardless of how little plants need at the moment. As the temperatures warm up, you still might find some hungry aphids who have refused to take a winter’s nap. Spray them with some dish detergent or a winter dormant oil. A weaker solution in both should do the trick
Although the need is far less than during those freaky hot spells we had a few months ago, plants need water throughout the winter. It usually falls from the sky but 2017 is ending up very dry.
If the top of the soil feels parched, by all means, give it some water. Use a hose and water. Walk away and do something else for a few minutes then return to the plants and water again. This way you’re certain the water has found its way down deep.
Plants in pots and those with roots near the surface are the most vulnerable. Pay attention as death can come quickly to them.
Trees are particularly vulnerable during long droughts and they are real trouble to replace. Water helps them keep their vigor and consequently fight off invading insects and diseases ready to push them on to death’s doorstep. So run a slow hose for at least 15 minutes at the base of each to make sure it gets to sink down to the main roots.
No point in giving plants anything powerful to eat at the moment. It would only spur growth that won’t be consequential and is likely to blow over as soon as the next wind storm arrives. If you do feel like fussing, however, a fistful of plain alfalfa pellets around the base is always a welcome tonic. Water it. Wait a day and water it again.
Now is a great time to look for dead branches and prune them all away.
Plants such as roses which bloom on new growth can be cut back at this time. Downsizing them will actually help them retain some water and sleep through these balmy days. You may also need to pull off last year’s leaves and discard them. That, too, will slow down growth and thusly conserve water.
Plants which bloom on last year’s wood such as flowering trees should not be pruned until after the petals have fallen in the spring. True, too, for one-time blooming roses.
If you can still find spring bulbs, take advantage of this easy-to-work-in weather and get them in the ground NOW. Always put bone meal beneath them and don’t stir it around. It decomposes too fast if you mix it in the soil.
I’m looking forward to planting a pomegranate tree in my front yard this weekend. I just need the time and energy to dig through the sod and get it done.
Winter is coming
Winter arrives on Thursday, Dec.21 and the coldest temperatures of the year are upon us. Let's pray to the Rain God and begin 2018 with long, gentle rain.