Recognizing Winter Burn
"Winter burn" causes evergreen foliage to look bleached or white. It occurs in windy locations, when the soil is dry in winter, or when the air temperature is warm but the ground is frozen, which makes water unavailable. To prevent, water during warm periods in winter, plant in locations with minimal wind, or protect shrubs with burlap shields.
Small-leaved, ground-hugging chickweed flourishes during winter. Before it takes over beds and borders, check the garden regularly and handpull it. Keeping this done throughout the winter makes spring chores much easier. Spreading an organic pre-emergent such as corn gluten over garden areas will continue to keep weeds at bay.
Get Soil Tested
Don't wait until the last minute to determine fertilizer needs. Take soil samples and have them tested now, as it can often take as long as a month to get results. Contact your County Cooperative Extension Office for suggestions of where to send soil sample for analysis. Take small samples from the top 4 inches of soil, every 15 feet, then combine them.
Indulge your midwinter need for flowers and fragrance by potting up some freesias. Corms can be purchased online or at garden centers. Plant corms in a pot filled with moistened potting soil, keep them in a cool, sunny location, and in 10 weeks you'll have flowers in shades of white, pink, purple, lavender, or yellow.
Clean and Organize
Whether in garage, shed, or basement, wherever you store garden tools and supplies, now's the time to get things organized. Properly dispose of old chemicals. Arrange items by category, making notes of what you need to replenish. Sharpen edges of shovels, spade, towels, and pruning tools, then coat with oil. Check and replace broken handles.