This is the perfect time for these gardening tasks

Recordkeeping
Who has time during the gardening season to carefully record everything for posterity?  But now you probably DO have time, and boy, will you be glad you spent some of it updating your garden records for the 2011 season, in time for 2012.

In my plant notebook, the page for Tiarella

Let’s assume you at least kept the tags from all your new plants last season.  So all it takes now is to file them – on the computer or in an old-fashioned notebook of some kind – by plant type.  So years from now when you want to replace one of the plants in a hedge, you can look under Shrubs and see exactly what to buy.  It’s helpful to have a page for each plant, and here’s the information you might include for each – information that will come in handy in unimaginable ways down the road:

  • When you bought and planted it – the year will do.
  • If a shrub or tree, how tall it was when you planted it.
  • What you paid for it is sometimes helpful information.
  • And to reiterate, the exact Latin and common names, including the variety.
  • If you’re keeping paper records, tape or staple the tag to the page for that plant.

Homestead’s gardening education guy Gene Sumi also recommends noting what any problems you experienced in the garden last season, and noting when you bought certain products.  Here’s Gene:

“Sometimes I do not recall if I had powdery mildew in the past on a certain plant and a quick look at my records could have given me a hint as to that plant’s on-going susceptibility to that fungus.

“Another kind of recordkeeping that is helpful is to label your pesticides with the date that you purchased it.  Most pesticide makers say that their products should be used within three years – (without knowing if the customer has opened the product, or kept it at the wrong temperature.  Just like the herbs and spices jars in your kitchen cabinet, dispose in the appropriate manner all garden pesticides three years after the date you wrote on the product label.”

Planning

And how about starting to dream and scheme about changes you want to make this year? While there may not be a lot to look at IN the garden right now, the magazines, books, websites and blogs are filled with inspiring photos and – hopefully – text that will tell you whether the beauties depicted will do well in your garden.  Most libraries have several years’ worth of back issues of gardening magazines that you can take out en masse for limitless eye candy and instruction.  Start a list of the plants you’d like to incorporate in your own garden this year.

Ugly garden siding is hidden by a magnolia, two hollies and a row of acubas.

And winter’s the perfect time to assess the living bones of your garden – the woody plants, especially the evergreen ones.  Note if there spots you see from your windows or as you’re walking up to the front door where a magnolia, holly or your favorite conifer would look enhance the winter garden.  And if you have an ugly view you need to hide or simply want more privacy, those same plants will do the job.  Make a note of the size and shape plant you need for each spot and come spring, when the garden center is filled with flowering, make a stop in the evergreen department.

Late but still do-able

Not to be a nag, but have you detached your garden hoses from the faucets and turned off the water yet?  Well, better late than never.   Also, if you have any bulbs that you still haven’t planted, go ahead and do it now.  As long as the ground’s not frozen, of course.  And speaking of bulbs, you’ve probably noticed daffodil foliage already popping up?  Not to worry; that’s normal and the bulbs will still flower exactly when they’re supposed to.

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