JANUARY HORTICULTURAL HINTS
Start your year off clean, Use these days to clean your tools and prepare them for spring gardening. Clean tools to remove dirt and any lingering chemicals. Sharpen your pruners, loppers, shovels, spades and mower blades. Don’t know how to sharpen? Go to your favorite nursery where the staff can show you how, or check online for detailed videos that show you how to sharpen any blade. When finished sharpening, use a clean rag to put a thin coating of oil on each blade. If your tools live in an unheated garage or tool shed, this will prevent moisture from rusting the metal.
Start your year off green. Do you have leftover chemicals – pesticides, herbicides or fungicides hanging around your garage, garden shed or basement? These are serious poisons that must be disposed of properly. Contact your local Department of Sanitation or Public Works for the next chemical disposal day. And this year, use lawn and garden chemicals only when, and where, absolutely necessary to control specific pests and diseases.
Pray for snow! This has been a largely snow-free winter for southern New England. Of course, you have added leaves around new plantings to protect them from sub-freezing temperatures and frost heaves, but now it’s time to look for more help from Mother Nature. Snow is a natural insulator and a very efficient one—ten inches of snow provide the same insulation as six inches of fiberglass. Snow keeps roots happily buried, not subject to freeze and thaw cycles.
Skip the salt. Once the snow arrives, avoid using salt on sidewalks and driveways. Sand or kitty litter will provide traction and even assist in melting as it warms on sunny days. Best of all, there will be no damage to your plants now, or when the ground thaws in the spring. The sand or litter will disappear into the garden soil without damaging to roots or poisoning the soil.