>End of Winter/Early Spring Garden Chores

>For all you folks in the ‘wack March 26-28 is the 8th Annual Outdoor Decor Yard and Garden Show at the Chilliwack Heritage Park

Things to do in the garden. Seeing as the weathers been a bit wacky, I’m going to go with a late winter/ early spring combo of chores Wink

– Mulch those garden beds! A good decomposed bark mulch is a great thing- it gives the garden that lovely tidy and finished look that only a nice black mulch can. And the weed suppression is a great perk too Wink
The plants benefit too- mulch helps keep the soil warm when the temps are low and cool when the temps are high. The mulch also contributes the organic matter content of the soil- O.M is important in that it helps the soil retain moisture and nutrients, as well as encourages microbial activity (all them hardworking little critters that make a healthy soil).
So weed/ clean out any left over debris, and add mulch! A good rule of thumb is approximately 1-2″ of mulch (I find one inch is more than adequate, but it you only add mulch every few years, go with a bit more). And don’t forget to keep the mulch away from the trunks of trees and shrubs- another rule of thumb, for every inch of trunk diameter, is how many inches the mulch should be away from the trunk.

– And while I’m on the topic of not burying trees… now’s a great time to unbury the trees and shrubs in your yard! When you look at the bottom of your trees- the part that goes into the ground- you should see a gentle sloping outward of the trunk before it disappears into the ground. This is what we call the root flare. The trunk should not be going straight into the ground. We want a good root flare visible because this indicates where the roots should then start. It’s an area of high oxygen exchange, and when trees are buried, they will eventually decline in health. Buried root collars lead to root and trunk rots, trunk girdling and slow suffocation. Some trees are more sensitive then others- one can die in a summer, while another will slowly decline over years. Sooo, get out your little spade and get to digging! You’ll likely come across advantageous roots if the tree has been buried for a while- it’s attempt to get oxygen to what’s buried- cut these off with a pair of hand pruners as they will just become desiccated otherwise (and no, they don’t indicate the root collar!).
How does a tree get buried? Well, mostly through ignorance, but in general each time a tree is handled, it goes a bit deeper into the ground. So by the time you get that tree from the nursery that’s been transplanted five times already- well, it’s already well and buried! So it needs to be excavated upon planting.

OK, I have suppressed the need to rant… I rant about buried trees…

– Now’s the time to get your new trees and shrubs planted. Add any vines and/or herbaceous perennials you want to add to the garden as well.
– It’s also about time to start sowing your seeds (indoors). Remember that soil temperatures need to stay at or above 7*c to ensure germination. This isn’t usually a problem indoors, but if you’re starting in an unheated greenhouse, get yourself a seedling heating mat, available at most garden centers.
– If you have snowdrops and want to divide them, do so once they flowers have faded.

– If you haven’t gotten them yet, go get seeds!

-Get your summer flowering bulbs now! Most garden centers start having them available around now, and if you want a good selection, get hoppin’!

– If you keep labels on your plants, check then now while the garden is bare to see it they need replacing.

– Get some pruning done if necessary. Lots of folks will tell you lots of things about when to prune what plants. In truth- totally doesn’t matter when. The plant doesn’t care. The only thing you may want to consider is if the plant has flower buds, that you might want to wait until after flowering so you don’t lose the show! Also keep in mind the sap is starting to flow in the trees right now, and some tend to gush a fair bit (think maple syrup!). So if you don’t want a mess on your front walkway, don’t prune that overhanging maple branch just yet Wink
Roses- the rule of thumb is to prune them when the forsythia in your area is blooming. Prune them to a healthy outward facing bud.

– Cut back any ornamental grasses and perennials that still need it.

-Lawn…ugh (I am not a lawn lover, but I will still drop some info)
Almost time to whip out that mower! Check it over to make sure it’s in working order, give it an oil change and sharpen the blades (apparently this is important for healthy grass *rolls eyes*). Remember to cut the grass long to ensure deep healthy root development.
Also, do any edging along the lawn where it’s creeping into the garden beds or onto the driveway.

– This is also the time to make sure all your gardening tools are in good working order, sharpened and oiled. Clean out your greenhouse or garden shed or what not, toss out what you no longer need and organize!

– If you have a pond, fish out all those nasty rotting leaves…

– Get your mason bee and bird houses up!

– And most importantly, enjoy the emerging blooms and buds and all the little critters that accompany them!

[Image: eonlbue.jpg]

(if you’d like to join in a discussion about this article, the thread can be found on our forum Here)


>Winter in the Garden

>Well, make sure you’ve got your bulbs planted! Generally up to the end of December is dandy, but after that, it may be pushing it a bit Wink
Also, consider putting out some food for the birds. Most seed heads and fruit have disappeared now, and all those tough little feathered ones who stick around these parts through the winter need a hand!
If you haven’t done so yet, you’ll want to rake out any leaves from trees that are prone to fungal leaf problems and dispose of them in the city green waste. Alternatively, other remaining leaves are good to leave in the garden to be broken down naturally and then turned into the soil in spring.

Flowers! Even though we’re in the middle of winter, there are still plants making flowers. Often they are a bit inconspicuous, so you need to keep and eye out. Some of these include Hellebours (or winter rose) and the ‘Dawn’ viburnum (Viburnum x bodnatnese “Dawn”)- it blooms off and on from November through February. Most other winter flowering plants don’t really get underway until February- I shall post as I see them Wink
For other winter interest in the garden, one can always turn to plants that produce berries or have attractive bark. For berries, other than the traditional holly, consider the beauty berry (Callicarpa)- it produces beautiful purple berries in fall that persist through winter. Skimmia is another great little shrub- the males produce clusters of red berries in fall that last through winter and also provide lovely flowers and buds in spring and summer. The hawthorn is another classic, though the birds often eat most of the berries, and what is left by this time of the year look a little worn out. Mountain ash is another tree for berries, they come red, various shades of pink, and orange. The birds quite like this one also. Pyracantha, a very thorny shrub, puts on a great display also, red and orange berries. As well, it makes a great place for the little birds to hang out and be protected. Snow berry is a native shrub that produces clusters of white berries. It’s quite attractive, but the berries are poisonous.
As for bark, there are some great options also. The classic of course being the birch tree, either the Himalayan or European for that striking white exfoliating bark. Or the river birch, which has a brown exfoliating bark. The ‘Autumnalis’ cherry has a beautiful dark metallic red bark. The paperbark maple has a lovely cinnamon coloured exfoliating bark (this tree also has fantastic fall colour, and it doesn’t get very big, making it a great candidate for the small garden) Both the red and yellow twig dogwoods are a good shrub for winter colour also- bright red and yellow stems add a splash of colour to any winter garden.

That’s all I could think to ramble about right now… I’m sure I’ll come up with more later Wink

>Additional Mead Notes

>Nov 2/09

Reading on the hydrometer is 1.05 (10%)= must is currently at 8% alcohol content.
Continued skimming the gunk off the top. Then figured it too much of a pain in the ass with all that fruit floating on top and just took to giving it a quick swirl to allow some air access to the surface.

Nov 4/09

First racking
Used sulfite to sterilize carboy, siphon, hose, air stop and plug.
Hydrometer reading 1.062 (8%)= must with 10% alcohol content

Tasting- fizzy! the yeast is still active
a lovely fruit sweet taste
still very cloudy, a dark pinkish colour

Nov 5/09

Added 4 additional litres of bottled spring water

>Mead Making Notes

>Oct 29/09
*sorry for the mixed use of degree designations, it’s just now i had it written down…

started with 6kg (=2gal) of honey, with 2gal of water, heated until honey dissolved then brought to a boil for 20mins to sterilize.

removed from heat, let cool to 70-75F before adding yeast (temp approx 175F or 77C when removed) and added:
15tbsp of air dried bee pollen (yeast energizer, recommended 1-5tbsp/gal);
1/2 each blood orange and lemon, sliced (one whole citric fruit);
7tbsp very strong tea (steeped 6 Earl Grey teabags in average sized teapot)- recommended 2tbsp/gal.

at 50C, added 1 additional gallon of cold water

added 900g frozen mixed berries raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, blueberry (75.5C).
Oct. 30 added additional 500g frozen blue berries

started yeast (lalvin 1118) in 1 cup warm water, let stand for time indicated on package
added to must at 110F

initial hydrometer readings,
1.135 (18%)
1.1 (15%) after yeast added

fill sink with cold water and place pot of boiled must into this cold water to speed cooling 😉
3kg honey =4L= 1gal
1kg= 2 2/3 cups/ 650ml