Western Mountains and High Plains

January, 2009
Regional Report

Gather Seed-Starting Supplies

Clean plastic pots and trays with a good disinfectant. I soak them in a ten percent liquid bleach solution. Leave them in a bucket or pan of bleach solution for ten minutes, then rinse with warm water. Air dry and then you're ready to get started.

Get Ready for Seed Starting

Take inventory of old seeds and check dates that they were purchased. Hopefully they've been stored in a dry and cool location. Seeds older than five years will have a poor germination rate, so you may want to toss them. Otherwise, do a germination test in moist paper towels or seed-starting mix.

Check for Soggy Perennials

As the snow melts away, check perennials for signs of crown rot. Many soil-borne fungi can cause damage if drainage is a problem. In some cases, it is helpful to scrap snow and ice away from the crown of plants that are sitting in a soggy area. This will allow the soil to dry out slightly and reduce rot problems.

What about Those Squirrels?

Feed the other wildlife in the yard to counteract problems. Squirrels will invade the bird feeder and frighten birds away. One way to reduce this problem is to feed the squirrels separately. Put up a squirrel feeder complete with sitting bench and corn cob holder. It will keep them occupied and away from the bird feeding station.

Start an Idea File

Add ideas to your garden journal while you're inside staying warm. It's OK to jot down some ideas to try this year. Use colored tabs to mark idea entries so you can find them easily. Then, when spring arrives you can remind yourself of new plants to try this year or gather supplies for a spring project.

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