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Winter Gardening Tips

A garden in the winterAlthough the majority of perennials and trees are dormant this season, it doesn't mean the garden can be ignored. Dormancy actually helps with some of the opportunities for projects. Much can be done to enhance a garden during the growing season if preparations are made during the winter months.

Now is the time when the underlying structure of the garden is most apparent. Evaluate a garden for areas where architectural elements such as arbors or trellises are needed. Deciduous shrubs and trees should be inspected and pruned at this time. Dormant shrubs may also be removed or transplanted if the ground is not frozen. Look for winter color in the garden and ways to enhance it with different colors and textures of evergreens.

New vegetable and flower beds can be dug and compost or peat moss added to the soil in preparation for seeds and seedlings in spring. Areas for new lawn can also be prepared. Spring-flowering bulbs that didn't get planted in late fall, can be planted now.

Check the summer flowering bulbs lifted and stored in the fall for excess moisture and mold.

Heavy labor projects can be accomplished now while the weather is cooler. Large winter clean-up jobs requiring chain saws or chipper/shredders should be undertaken before spring green-up. Look for winter damage to trees caused by the weight of ice and snow. Broken branches with uneven wounds should be sawn off cleanly to protect the tree from disease and insect infestations later.

Don't neglect the compost pile! Keep adding kitchen scraps and fallen leaves.

If the ground is not frozen, hardier plants like trees, shrubs and vine fruits can be planted if container grown or burlapped.

Cut down ornamental grasses, before the wind strews the loose straw all over the yard.

Cut seed potatoes into pieces with at least two eyes each. Allow them to air dry for a bit to seal the cut surfaces, and let the eyes sprout before planting. Cold hardy vegetables can be planted now if covered with a plastic translucent row cover.

Winter is a great time to fertilize your fruit trees before their spring bloom.

Sharpen, clean and oil all hand tools so they'll be ready for the busy planting season.

Force endive, chickory and rhubarb. Scrape old bark from grape vines and tip prune summer fruiting black berries and raspberries.

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