The holidays may be over but January is a time to celebrate houseplants. Most houseplants are easy to care for and add so much life to a space. Having a plant in your office or home is a great way to bring some color indoors and cure your winter blues.
If you start vegetable plants indoors, it is often helpful to list seeding dates on a calendar so that plants are ready for transplanting at the proper time. To do this, choose your transplant date and count back the number of weeks necessary to grow your own transplants. For example, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are usually transplanted in late March to early April. It takes 8 weeks from seeding to transplant size. Plants should be seeded in early February.
Below are examples of some common vegetables grown for transplants and a recommended date for seeding. Dates are on weekends as this is when many homeowners have the most free time. The dates are not set in stone, and a week earlier or later will not ruin the plants. Keep notes on how well the transplants did so you can tweak the planting schedule. Your conditions may result in plants that need a bit more or a bit less time.
Do you have winter blues and miss your garden? If you have a passion for plants and the outdoors, consider joining the Extension Master Gardener Program. With this fun program you will receive a mini horticulture degree and be able to give back to your community. Contact Cassie Homan at your local Extension Office for more details.
Christmas plants such as poinsettias, holiday cactus, and amaryllis bulbs are a fun way to bring some color to the winter months. They like a bright, sunny location in your home and regular watering. With proper care these plants can be kept from year to year for lasting value. For help picking out the perfect poinsettia watch this YouTube Video:
There are five main materials that are used as chemical de-icers: calcium chloride, sodium chloride (table salt), potassium chloride, urea, and calcium magnesium acetate.
Calcium chloride is the traditional ice-melting product. Though it will melt ice to about -25 degrees F, it will form slippery, slimy surfaces on concrete and other hard surfaces. Plants are not likely to be harmed unless excessive amounts are used.
Rock salt is sodium chloride and is the least expensive material available. It is effective to approximately 12 degrees F, but can damage soils, plants and metals. Potassium chloride can also cause serious plant injury when washed or splashed on foliage. Both calcium chloride and potassium chloride can damage roots of plants.
Urea (carbonyl diamide) is a fertilizer that is sometimes used to melt ice. Though it is only about 10% as corrosive as sodium chloride, it can contaminate ground and surface water with nitrates. Urea is effective to about 21 degrees F.
Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), a newer product, is made from dolomitic limestone and acetic acid (the principal compound of vinegar). CMA works differently than the other materials in that it does not form a brine-like salt but rather helps prevent snow particles from sticking to each other or the road surface. It has little effect on plant growth or concrete surfaces.
Limited use of any of these products should cause little injury. Problems accumulate when they are used excessively and there is not adequate rainfall to wash or leach the material from the area. Since limited use is recommended it is best to remove the ice and snow by hand when possible. When they are applied, practice moderation. Resist the temptation to over apply just to make sure the ice and snow melts. Keep in mind this can damage concrete surfaces as well as the plants and grass growing along the walks and driveways. These problems are normally latent and do not show up until spring or summer.
Container gardening is so easy and fun! The containers we use are often large and can be quite pricy. Now that winter has arrived it’s important to bring them inside.
Most pots are made out of terra cotta or glazed ceramic. These pots are able to absorb moisture. They then shrink and swell with winter freezing and thawing. This unfortunately causes the pots to break.
Don’t forget to take a few moments this month to clean out your pots and bring them indoors so you can use them again next year!
If you have newly planted fruit trees they need a little extra maintenance this time of year. Rabbits may begin to nibble on newly planted trees and shrubs through the winter. Protect your investment with at least 2-foot-tall cylinders of 1-inch-mesh, chicken wire, or similar barrier. Other control methods include plastic tree wraps and liquid rabbit repellents sprayed on the plants. Repellents will need to be reapplied each time it rains. It’s also a good idea to pick up fallen fruit in the fall. This will prevent diseases from overwintering and fungal spores will be destroyed.
Fall is the best time to bring in your garden tools and clean them up after a busy season of work. A few extra minutes now may mean a longer life for your favorite tools. Watch this video for information on how to preserve your tools.