Whiling away the winter

Carla Allen
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If you find yourself bored in between flipping through the seed catalogues, here are a few things to keep you occupied this winter.

Now is the time to revitalize geraniums. Bring dormant ones out of cool storage or prune those you’ve overwintered on the windowsill.

Deep snowfall can reduce the availability of food for wildlife. One deer can consume one bushel (36 litres) of live twigs daily.  

Persuade them to leave your ornamentals alone by erecting a scarecrow dressed in recently worn clothing. Motion activated lighting will also frighten them.

Spruce up your sleepy houseplants by grooming them of dead leaves and cultivating any crusted soil surfaces. Many tropicals rest during the winter so reduce watering and fertilizing unless plants are beginning to bloom. Examine foliage with a hand held lens to catch developing insect or disease problems before they become serious. 

Add warmth to a long, cold winter by delivering floral messages. Floral notes take on a whole new meaning when you use the language of flowers: Baby’s Breath means gentleness and everlasting love; white chrysanthemum (fidelity); daisy (innocence); ivy (friendship) and primrose (have confidence in me). Visit your local florist for other flowers (and words) you may require.

Wintertime is dreamtime for most gardeners but it’s also a time to be realistic.  You can spend hours browsing those colourful garden catalogues but before ordering, plot your new plants to scale. Make sure you have room for all and don’t end up plugging them in indiscriminately.  

In mid-February spend some time examining and taking stock of your garden tools. If it hasn’t already been done, sharpen shovels and shears. This gardening season may be the one for you to make the switch to more ergonomic tools. These have been specially designed to maximize strength and minimize strain. 

One of the greatest resources to a gardener can be the local garden club. Attendance blossoms as late winter turns into early spring and valuable friendships can take root. Meetings provide a chance to discuss experiences, exchange plants, and develop projects that benefit the community as a whole.  

Check the condition of your overwintering tubers and corms. These should be stored in boxes of peat moss, shredded newspapers, sawdust or sand, between 2 – 10 degrees Celsius. Discard rotted ones to prevent spreading the problem. Lightly sprinkle water on overly dried ones.

Now is the time to revitalize geraniums. Bring dormant ones out of cool storage or prune those you’ve overwintered on the windowsill. Start feeding twice weekly with a water-soluble fertilizer at half strength to have them in fine shape by spring.                                                     

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