Take winter care of you, the gardener. In this lull between the holidays and spring's gardening flurry, offset winter doldrums with enjoyable exercise. Gardening IS exercise for the body, mind, and soul. When weather precludes pursuing our passion, find a fun, physical substitute that stretches and strengthens. My favorites are gentle on the joints yet good for the heart and muscles: Pilates and swimming followed by a hot dip in the whirlpool. Staying flexible and strong now will mean fewer sore muscles and aches when the garden season resumes.
Sort, Pack, and Chat
Counter cabin fever by joining the like-minded in a project such as The Hardy Plant Society Mid-Atlantic Group's Seed Exchange. From January 31 to February 23, Hardy Plant Society members sort, package, and distribute seed orders at the Henry Foundation for Botanical Research, Gladwyne, PA. Members range from South Carolina and Florida to Colorado and New England. For more information, e-mail the Society at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't Worry About Peeping Bulbs
In periods of unseasonably warm weather, bulbs tend to show themselves, especially those planted on the south side. They send up their leaves first so there is usually nothing to worry about. A little damage to the foliage will not hurt them, and the flower bud is usually still deep in the ground.
Keep Pond Water Flowing
In winter a pond with running water needs occasional attention to keep the water moving. Debris build-up and ice dams can cause sluggish, slow, or still water that spills over the liner. So it's important to remove ice, branches, and leaves that impede flow. Also maintain the necessary water level so the pump works properly; water evaporates even in cold weather.
Let Fish Hibernate
Koi and other fish in a pond deeper than 2 feet will stay in a state of semi-hibernation in cold water below the freeze line. As temperatures drop, the fish metabolism slows. Best not to feed them after the water temperature drops below 50 degrees F.