Using Ash in the Garden
When cleaning the fireplace or outdoor firepit, limit your enthusiasm to recycle the wood ashes for the garden. An inch-thick layer of fireplace ash can benefit lawns and garden beds when spread evenly and worked in lightly, but use the rest as a weed inhibitor along paths or to fill deep holes. Never use charcoal or coal ash in the garden.
Sharpen your pruning shears and give evergreen shrubs such as ligustrum, cleyera, and pittosporum a light haircut to neaten them or even up their heights in a hedge. If shrubs such as flowering quince are twiggy and have leaves only on the outside, be careful not to cut all the leaves off. This may damage the plant.
Turn the Compost
Go out on a dry, sunny day and turn the compost pile with a pitchfork or turning fork. If the compost is cooking properly, the first turn should be quite steamy at the pile\'s center. If the pile is cold, add dry brown and fresh green matter, dust with any organic nitrogen fertilizer, and mix well. This should help it heat up and decompose faster.
Apply horticultural oil sprays to control many garden insect pests on favorite shrubs and trees. Choose a cloudy day with temperatures no higher than 50F but above freezing to spray dormant or refined oil sprays. Cover the plants completely, spraying trunks, limbs, and underneath the leaves of evergreens to smother insect eggs.
Start a Garden Journal
Start a garden journal to record all the events in your garden, from what blooms to what never did anything but die. Start by simply recording observations weekly. Write down what you plant or prune, admire or worry about, and soon you\'ll have a great tool, custom made for your garden to help you with future plantings and designs.