Participate in America in Bloom
Are you proud of your community's beautification efforts? America in Bloom is an opportunity to gain national recognition. The participation process involves forming a local committee, engaging your municipality, registering your community, and working together to meet the judging criteria. Registration deadline is Feb. 28, 2008. For details, go to: http://www.americainbloom.org.
Buy Greens to Support Local Nature Efforts
Holiday greens and bird seed sales help fill the coffers of our favorite nonprofit gardens, nurseries, arboreta, conservation projects, libraries, nature preserves, horticultural societies, wildlife and plant refuges, and bird sanctuaries. Keep an eye out for their ads. Put your holiday dollars to good use.
Remove Leaves and Mulch From Crowns of Plants
To prevent winter rot, remove leaves and move mulch away from lowest shrub branches, perennial crowns, and tree bases. The best way is by hand. Pull out leaves intertwined with stems and branches where plant meets soil. Those leaves are winter homes for insects such as scale. Push mulch 2 to 3 inches away from trees, shrubs, and perennials.
Fluff Your Mulch
If your mulch is frozen solid, skip this. If not, read on. By now, there's likely a hard crust on bark, licorice root, and wood mulch applied in spring or summer. Rain and melting snow can't easily penetrate that crust. Shrubs, perennials, and trees still need water through the winter. Use a triangular hoe to break through the crust. Break hunks of mulch into smaller pieces -- a process I call "fluffing." Respread fluffed mulch more evenly throughout the garden bed.
Store Seeds Properly
I just found batches of seed packets from spring and summer plus recently gathered asclepias and Verbena bonariensis seeds. To save them for next year, I'm sealing the open packets with tape, then storing them in airtight plastic baggies that zip closed. Unopened packs also get zipped into plastic baggies. I put loose seeds in thoroughly washed 35-mm film canisters. Then I arrange all the baggies and canisters in a box to store in the cool, dry utility room. Don't freeze or allow seeds to get moist.