Northern & Central Midwest

February, 2008
Regional Report

Gather Seed-Starting Supplies

Gather your supplies before you need them. Garden stores have their shelves filled already, so stock up on seed-starting mix, seeding pots and flats, plastic flat covers, fertilizer, heat mats, a squirt bottle for misting newly planted seeds, lighting fixtures (these will be much less expensive at the hardware store).

Replace Plant Light Bulbs

Replace fluorescent bulbs before starting your seeds. Even if your bulbs seem perfectly good, fluorescent bulbs lose a considerable amount of efficiency in a year's use. Replacing your bulbs at the beginning of each season is an inexpensive way to assure that your seedlings and transplants get off to the best start possible.

Plan Trellises

Plan your trellising or caging systems. Before we know it, it will be time to plant outdoors. If you have your trellising system in place before setting out your transplants, you will reduce the trouble of trying to get in between plants to construct it, as well as reduce damage to delicate new plants.

Watch for Pest Damage on Woodies

Keep an eye on woody plants for rodent and rabbit damage. This is prime season for gnawing, even below the snow line. Dig the snow away from the stems of young, succulent plants to check. If you see signs of damage, protect the trunk or stems with chicken wire or even plastic mesh to get them through the rest of winter.

Start Pruning

Take advantage of warm weather to do some pruning. Plants are still dormant but will soon be slowly escaping the grasp of winter. When you have a sunny day, get out and prune even one shrub at a time and the task won't seem so onerous as spring comes. Bring the pruned branches indoors to force.

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