Northern & Central Midwest

January, 2008
Regional Report

Grow Succulents

Take advantage of a cool, bright window to grow colorful, sturdy succulents. Jade, echeveria, lithops, and euphorbia make beautiful conversation pieces, and they all need a cool semidormant period in winter to keep them healthy. Don't water during this time or the plants may rot.

Make Your Own Cloches

Find a spot in the basement or garage to start storing plastic milk jugs and soda and juice bottles. By removing the bottoms and leaving the tops on, you can turn them into excellent cloches for protecting new transplants in frosty weather. Then you can use them as watering funnels for tomatoes and peppers in the growing season.

Give Something Different for Valentine's Day

Think ahead for Valentine's Day. Roses are traditional, but check out your garden center and greenhouse for some nontraditional winter-flowering plants for your true love. Consider potted hyacinths and iris, sweetolive, flowering jasmine, hibiscus, gardenia, and even begonias. Many of these are fragrant, and the flowers last much longer than cut flowers.

Prepare for Seed Sowing

It may seem early but it is time to think about getting ready for sowing seeds for the vegetable garden. Find a good guide for when to transplant your crops into the garden, then use the recommended number of weeks till transplanting time as you guide to the date you should sow seeds. Don't be in a hurry and sow too soon or your transplants will stretch.

Put Your Garden on Paper

While thinking about sowing seeds, put your garden plan on paper. Make a rough sketch that includes the location of each vegetable, the length of row or size of block for each vegetable, the spacing between plants and rows, planting dates, and what crop is to follow each vegetable after the first is harvested.

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