New England

February, 2005
Regional Report

Check Plants in Cold Storage

If you've moved container shrubs and perennials into a garage or garden shed for the winter, check the soil to see if it needs water. If the soil is frozen, wait until temperatures rise above freezing to check again. In early spring, check more frequently because the roots can begin growing when soil temperatures rise above 40 degreees.

Foil Powdery Mildew

If you have miniature roses or other houseplants susceptible to powdery mildew, safeguard them by spraying with a solution of 1 tablespoon baking soda and 3 tablespoons horticultural oil in 1 gallon of water. This works primarily as a preventative spray. If your plants show signs, pick off the infected leaves, increase air circulation around plants with a small fan, and lower the humidity around them.

Review Garden Notes

If you keep any kind of gardening journal, dig it out now and refresh your memory about what worked and what didn\'t work last year. Read notes you took at garden visits and gardening workshops to give you ideas of plants and techniques you may want to try this year. If you don\'t have a gardening journal, just designate a small notebook as a place to collect your thoughts and wish lists.

Sow Leeks and Onions

Long-season alliums, such as leeks and onions, should be started from seed now. Sprinkle the seed on top of seed-starting mix, keep it moist, and as soon as the seedlings emerge, place the flats under grow lights. Snip the ends periodically to keep them about 3 to 4 inches tall and help them grow strong.

Give Nontraditional Flowers for Valentine's Day

Give the gift of fragrance this Valentine's Day with freesias, tuberoses, Oriental lilies, hyacinths, or any other flowers that will perfume the air. Or make a fragrant spring gift basket with small pots of hyacinths and other bulbs set in a larger basket, topped with Spanish moss. Or splurge on a gift certificate for fresh flower bouquets every month (or less) from a local florist.

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