New England

January, 2009
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.

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.

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.

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.

Add Trellises

Consider "growing up" this season -- buy or build some trellises. Frame your front door with a flower-laden arbor to greet visitors. Create an arch of climbing roses; use annual vines, such as morning glory, to provide abundant flowers from midsummer until frost. While you're at it, add a trellis to the vegetable garden for pole beans and cucumbers.

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