Northern & Central Midwest
Get Your Orders in Early!
In addition to the seed and nursery catalogs we all receive in the mail, check out seed company Web sites to help you begin garden planning. Many sites give Web specials, as well as breaks on shipping if you order early. Don't forget to share orders with friends to reduce shipping costs.
Use Christmas Tree Branches For Mulch
Use Christmas tree branches as well as greens from swags and wreaths to mulch perennial beds. The lightweight branches are open enough to let some light and air through, yet they insulate well enough to keep the ground frozen to protect precious plants from the freeze-thaw cycles that can push them out of the ground.
Ease the Snow Load on Trees and Shrubs
To remove heavy snow from tree and shrub branches, use a leaf rake and gently lift the branch from below, knocking off the snow. If the snow has an ice coating, let it melt on its own to avoid possibly breaking branches. Never forcibly knock off snow or ice.
Watch Out for Animal Damage to Plants
Take a tour of the yard every week or so to keep an eye on animal damage. If you see damage being done, put up physical barriers, such as bird netting, chicken wire, or even snow fencing, to keep rabbits and deer away from tender bark.
Cut Branches for Forcing Indoors
Bring some spring cheer into the house by forcing branches from flowering trees and shrubs. Toward the end of the month, selectively prune branches and lay them overnight in a bathtub of tepid water. Recut the ends in the morning and arrange in fresh water in a vase.