Northern & Central Midwest

February, 2002
Regional Report

Prune Grapes

Prune grapes now before the buds begin to swell. Pruning early prevents them from bleeding. Bleeding doesn't hurt the plants, but it does worry many gardeners. Grapes only bear from new canes that have grown from one-year-old canes, so annual pruning is essential. Choose your training system according to the type of grape.

Force Rhubarb

As soon as the ground begins to thaw, clean weeds from rhubarb bed. Place a sturdy wooden box or barrel over a rhubarb plant to force it into early growth. Make sure the plant receives water and check it frequently. You will be eating rhubarb pie weeks before your neighbors!

Force Lily-of-the-valley Pips

Lily-of-the-valley pips make a beautiful early spring centerpiece. Dig pips when soil thaws. Plant in potting soil with the buds just below the soil line, water well and place in the warmest spot you can find. In a couple of weeks you should be enjoying the delicious scent of muguet de bois.

Prune Fruit Trees

Prune apple, pear, apricot, cherry and plum trees while they are still dormant. This will allow you to see the form and do the most efficient job of pruning. Remember to keep in mind the framework you want to achieve while pruning, and make clean cuts with sharp pruners.

Last Chance for Dormant Oil

Make sure to get in a spray of dormant oil early in the month. This is a relatively non-toxic wonder drug that takes care of so many pest problems. Spray only when the temperature will stay above 40 degrees for 24 hours, before buds begin to expand. Spray on a wind-free day to avoid drift.

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