Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association


February, 2001
Regional Report

Wait to Uncover Roses

Don't be tempted to remove that protective heavy winter mulch too early, especially when winter temperature swings trick us into thinking spring is almost here. Wait until the forsythia blooms before gradually removing the insulating layer of soil and/or heavy mulch you mounded over the base of your roses late last fall.

Routine Cold Frame Maintenance

It\'s time to pull out and dust off the cold frame. Check for any needed repairs to hinges or joints; inspect the plastic cover for tears, cracks, or degradation; and if the frame is made of wood, consider applying any needed paint touch-ups or a new coat of water-resistant finish. Consider adding a temperature activated automatic vent if you don\'t have one.

Force Flowering Branches

When the buds begin to swell on shrubs such as pussy willow, forsythia, and flowering quince, it\'s time to cut branches for forcing. Plunge the whole cut branches under warm water for several hours to hydrate them. Then place them in a vase of clean water and keep it in a cool spot until the buds open in a week or two.

Apply Bottom Heat

Tomato and pepper seeds need warm soil to germinate. A way to jump-start their germination is to apply bottom heat to their pots. Recommended heating sources include special flat-sized heating mats and soil-heating cables. Old standbys such as placing the planted seeds near the household hot water heater or atop a heated aquarium also work.

Enjoy Snowdrops

If you planted snowdrops (or other early minor bulbs such as snow crocus or reticulated iris) in your garden, check whether they're blooming yet. These unassuming little bulbs, snug in a warm protected spot with some reflected heat from a building, can bloom as early as late winter, peeping out from between piles of snow.


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