Middle South

January, 2008
Regional Report

Clean Pruning Tools

Bring pruning tools inside and clean them in preparation for the upcoming season. Disassemble hand pruners, loppers, and shears, sharpen the blades, oil the levers, and remove any rust. Pruning trees will go much faster and be easier on your hands if you use sharp, well-maintained equipment.

Remove Snow from Evergreens

Brush snow from evergreens as soon as possible after a storm. Use a broom in an upward, sweeping motion. Serious damage may be caused by heavy snow or ice accumulating on the branches. Prop up ice-covered branches and let the ice melt rather than trying to remove ice from brittle branches.

Be Realistic When Starting Seeds

It's easy to get carried away starting seeds, but try to be realistic. It's wise to start a few extra plants, but do you really need -- or have room for -- 50 tomato plants in your garden? Remember, too, that tiny seedlings will need to be transplanted into larger containers, and you'll need to have a warm and well-lit spot for these until spring arrives.

Check Old Seeds for Germination Rate

Do a germination test on stored seeds to see how viable they are. To do this, place 20 seeds between two sheets of moist paper towel and tuck into a loosely tied plastic bag. Place in a warm area, and check every few days. If germination is less than 80 percent, consider purchasing new seed of that crop.

Order Fruit Trees

Now is the time to order bare-root fruit trees. Bare-root trees are shipped in late winter or early spring before they start to grow. Trees will be shipped for planting time in your area, and they should be planted immediately upon arrival.

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