Northern & Central Midwest

January, 2002
Regional Report

Be Kind to the Environment

Purchase calcium chloride (CaCl) salt instead of sodium chloride (NaCl) to melt the ice on walkways and driveways. It does less damage to plants and the environment in general. Mixing in ashes or sand can reduce the amount of salt needed and further protect your landscape (it's messy, though).

Time to Start Seeds

Believe it or not, this is the time to start seeds of slow-starters such as impatiens, begonias and geraniums, and cold crops such as onions, leeks, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, turnips, spring onions, and cabbages. Use sterile potting mix and put under lights when sprouted.

Prevent Iris Borer Damage

Pick a tolerable day, weather-wise, to remove all shreds of bearded and Siberian iris foliage. Borers lay eggs on the foliage in fall, so destroying the foliage gets rid of the eggs and prevents borer damage. You will have to do it every year since adult borers can fly in from neighbors' gardens.

Order Seeds

Don\'t put off ordering seeds. Order them now and you will assure delivery in time for spring planting. Many seed companies offer bonuses to gardeners who order seeds early, so check the catalogs. Also, most garden centers have their seeds on display already, so buy early to get the best selection.

Finish Your Pruning

For the next two months, whenever the weather cooperates, get out and do a little pruning. Prune summer-flowering trees and shrubs, but don't prune spring bloomers like forsythia and lilac or you will prune off the flower buds. Be sure to prune out any branches damaged by ice or snow.

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