Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

New England

February, 2007
Regional Report

Treat Snow-Laden Branches With Care

When tree and shrub branches bend under the weight of a new snowfall, use a broom to gently brush off the snow. Don't try to remove ice or you might break the branch. It's possible to save a branch that partially splits from the main trunk if you tie it in place and use long screws (coming from each direction, if necessary) to secure it. If done right away, the tree may callous over the wound and heal itself.

Use a Heat Mat

For seeds that need warmth to germinate, a heat mat underneath the flat can make a big difference. Once the seedlings are up, move them off the mat and grow them on at a cooler temperature to encourage strong, stocky growth.

Sow Slow-Growing Annuals

It's not too soon to start annuals that get off to a very slow start, such as pansies, violas, petunias, snapdragons, and lobelia. While garden centers offer some favorites, the choices are seemingless endless when your grow your own, and the quantity will be too if you save all the little seedlings.

Prolong the Life of Cut Flowers

Arrange flowers in a vase of warm water, and add commercial floral preservative or, even better, make your own with 1 cup regular 7-Up, 1 cup water, and 1/2 teaspoon household bleach. Tests have found commercial floral preservatives to be less effective than this formula. The sugar in the 7-Up provides energy for the flowers, and the bleach controls bacteria. If you need more liquid, just increase the amounts proportionately.

Change the water in the vase every couple of days. In mixed bouquets, some of the flowers may give off sap that is toxic to other varieties in the vase and shortens their vase life. Daffodils are one such flower. You can reduce this effect by frequently refreshing the water or keeping daffodils in a vase by themselves.

Check Grow Lights

If you are preparing to start seeds under grow lights or fluorescent shop lights indoors, check the tubes for signs of age. Tubes that have been used for two to three seasons probably have lost much of their intensity even though they look fine. Dark rings on the ends of the tubes are a sign they need to be replaced.


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