Mid-Atlantic

January, 2004
Regional Report

Gather Seed-Starting Tools

Plan now for what you will need: lots of clean pots, sterile potting mix, lighting, table space for the growing seedlings, a cold frame for conditioning the transplants. Optional: a horticultural heating mat or heating cable to help germinate those seeds that require a warmer soil temperature.

Purchase Seeds

Use your garden journal, last summer's photos, and your research notes to plan your early-season planting needs. Many nurseries offer a wide selection of seeds that do well locally, or you may order from the many different seed catalogs as needed. A seed swap among gardening friends is another fun way to widen your selection.

Rescue Frost-Heaved Plants

Oscillating temperatures such as we experience during the proverbial January thaw can literally pop smaller plants up out of the ground. Check your perennial beds and rescue any plants that may have heaved; reset them in the ground if possible, then add mulch over their roots.

Remove Fallen Bird Seed

Spilled or fallen seeds can sprout and cause a weedy situation next summer, and sunflower hulls seem to have an allelopathic (toxic) effect on plantings. To avoid these problems, sweep often under the feeder or place it over a tarp to act as a catchall, making frequent clean-up easier.

Dust Houseplants

Over time houseplants collect dust, which blocks light and thus limits photosynthesis. Foliage can be cleaned by dusting with a soft paintbrush, gently wiping with a damp cloth, rinsing in tepid water under the kitchen sink, or spraying with a plant mister. Bigger plants can be set in the household shower (use a gentle, tepid flow) for a rain-like rinse.

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