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Down the Garden Path


Right now the gardening word for the week is "patience" Gardeners are anxious to get the 2015 gardening season going, yet winter does not look like it is going away any time soon. So while we are impatiently waiting to get out in the yard to tend to our landscape plants and the garden, what can we do?

While it remains snowing and cold, get those things done inside to prepare for later activities. Very likely we put some tools away for the winter without cleaning them or made that mental note that those pruners needed to be sharpened or replaced. If you are thinking about replacing an older or worn out pruner, the adage "you get what you pay for" really applies when it comes to gardening tools. A good pair of hand pruners will be in the $40 to $50 dollar range. Long handled pruners will be more. Kind of an outdoor/indoor project is to get the lawn mower blades off and sharpened in the garage or basement. Along with getting the mower blade sharpened is to consider a second blade. That will take the pressure off of having to immediately get the blade sharpened and right back on the mower.

If starting seeds indoors is part of the vegetable and flower gardening activities, then locating and cleaning and sanitizing the seedling flats to avoid disease concerns is a good thing to do. If you have used the same seedling flats for several years and are concerned you cannot get them clean or they have become brittle, consider buying new. Another arm chair project is rereading the seed packets to be sure your transplants will be ready when the garden soils are. A common mistake made by gardeners is just starting those seeds too early!

There are some outdoor activities that can at least be planned for while we wait. Dormant pruning of fruit trees is one of the earliest activities outdoors as is any dormant pruning needing to be done on our ornamental flowering plants. Fruit tree scaffolds are easy to see and adjust or modify. Renewal pruning of flowering shrubs can also be done. If the rabbits have pretty much eaten those finer textured plants down to the ground, finish the job with rejuvenation pruning. The key is to mark the calendar now for a couple of reasons. First, to remind yourself that the pruning still needs to be done and to which plants and the second is use the calendar as your guide and adjust your time in the yard according to the current weather conditions. If you're really anxious to get out there, take a walk around the yard and look for rodent and rabbit damage. With the snow as high as it is, damage this winter will be above the snow line from the rabbits and at the ground line for mice. While field mice and other small rodents do not have a preference, rabbits really like shrubs and ornamental trees that have thin, smooth bark.