February 8, 2014
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Deep into winter, garden plans and houseplants
We conducted a vegetable gardening workshop this week where 50
hardy souls discussed seeds, planting, row length and squash bug
remedies. All were apparently unaffected by huge piles of snow
covering every vegetable bed everywhere in this phenomenally snowy
winter. "Gardening requires a leap of faith," someone said, and
everyone laughed, "Indeed!"
As usual after a class, we left with riches: Questions to
research. What's the sweetest pea? Must we turn under a vegetable
garden's mulch? Did I kill my rubber plant by transplanting it? The
list reflects two common strategies for getting through winter
--planning new beds and tending pot-lined windowsills.
We are so happy to research or look for information that you
need. For over 30 years you've told us what to write here, via
questions, Sponsorship requests that name a favorite or desired
topic, and comments such as a recent "Spot on! More of that!"
So we focused this week on houseplant topics and assembled these
most timely answers:
Cabin fevered people kill houseplants with kindness
Frustrated by winter, we sometimes over-do our houseplant care.
Strange to say, "Oh, I've neglected you! Here, have some water,"
can be a killer's statement.
Plants use so much less water when days are short; less still in
a cloudy winter. We've watered our jade trees just twice in the
past 10 weeks, the dracaena only three times. If this sounds
extreme to you, think again. They're all hale and hearty.
how to know when too much water is the problem, including a simple
watering guide suitable for every potted plant everywhere, with
links to specific plants' water problems and fertilizer notes.
When leaf tips go brown
Here's the cutting edge info on
brown tips, plus news about grow
lights that can make that indoor garden expansion more
We love to visit and learn but, "Hey, close that door!"
A Green Thumbs warning
to keep indoor plants out of cold drafts. Part of a winter planning
bonus: Short reports from ten
top-notch instructors about best lessons learned.
Cold facts: Defining hurtful degrees of water and air
It pays to know about the damage cold
water and cold
air can do to our indoor plants, starting with what temperature
"cold" really is. Lots of answers about cold water poured on
houseplants -- and all plants -- and how much cold air various
indoor plants can handle.
Winter can't shut us in! We still go out, and invite you
You asked Come prune with us in a thaw, meet us for a winter
conference, or reserve a date for hands-on learning at a Garden by
Janet & Steven. Check our website calendar and
please notice the three Secrets
workshops beginning May 2.
Please check out new Ensemble issues, too:
In the Weekly Ensemble department
Thanks to new Sponsors, we've posted or illustrated 12
What's Coming Up and Growing Concerns issues from
our library during the last two weeks as their topics became
relevant to our new articles. Here's a list of those issues,
highlighting a relevant topic from each:
Minimizing wintry hazards: Snow, salt and wind
It's one of ten topics in What's
Coming Up #10
Fireplace is nice, ashes not so much
This warning to vary where you throw those ashes, in
What's Coming Up #42, along with vines for fence
covering, fluffy white scale on beech and pine, weedy lawns,
lightning facts, butterfly gardens, and native plants.
Pick-me-ups for pooped out potted plants
These answers for reviving potted plants in summer applies to
indoor plants year 'round. Also in this issue, the low down on
trees' girdling roots, crabapple problems and a plug for eating the
fruit from your serviceberry. That's all in
What's Coming Up #49.
Artful burlap to zapped jade cut back, in What's Up
issue that runs the gamut, including what to do about trees
bent by ice and snow, burlap protection that's not an eyesore,
gnatty poinsettia and nifty Scrabbling words for gardeners.
Quick, fun "best of" in What's Coming Up #74
We were looking for past references to snow cover when we came
across this issue and a Sponsor helped it jump the queue to be
best-of topics from the best blue flowers to the best prank
More short reports, clematis wilt to weevil wars
What's Coming Up #103 we tackled squash in a big way,
assembled a gallery of stunning daisy family native flowers, then
held our nose and took the plunge with short reports on Magnolia
scale, alpine strawberries, hydrangea wilt, mildew, high-phosphorus
fertilizers, Clematis wilt, weevil damage, gardener's injuries and
more. Formatted so a quick look into the future may help you better
your garden and beat its problems.
Plan now to renew that perennial bed
Perennials are wonderful in the garden but they are not the
forever plants deceptive marketers sometimes make them out to be.
Early spring is a good time to refresh that
perennial bed and also take steps so it can do more of its own
renewal. In Growing Concerns #87.
Redtwig dogwood? Ready, set, prune.
In late winter as our need for their color lessens we can start
cutting back shrubs that look best when full of young wood. Redtwig
dogwoods are chief on the list, and Growing
Concerns #350 is the cut-back how-to. Includes help for
no-bloom peonies and clematis pruning, too.
When must soil pass the acid test?
Growing Concerns #403 takes on the whole range of
problems that can keep a new bed from performing up to snuff. Why
acidity is just one aspect of fertility, and why water and light
are so much more important to address first.
Gear up for hard cuts on shrubs, dream of shady water
Cutting back hard takes nerve, we know. Start building grit now
advice for Viburnum cut back. This issue includes an
article every shade gardener will love, with plants for shady
Thank you to the Sponsors
who made this increase possible. Every one helped us stay at our
posts to post this information!
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