January 2017 – Tips of the month

Hello friends,

I will be writing tips for gardening and outdoor enthusiasts as I go through the growing season with you.  I will make suggestions based on my experiences as a Landscape Architect, contractor and avid grower.  I like to grow plants of all types but now specialize in growing herbs, vegetables, fruits and woody ornamentals that produce an edible fruit, nut or berry.

My u pick farm allows you to sample these fresh and wonderful foods while my nursery allows you to choose which edible plants you want to grow in your landscape and enjoy ornamentally as well.

January is traditionally a slow gardening month here in central Ohio but for those of us wanting to be outside; here are the things I always try to accomplish in the winter months.

  • Plan for Spring – Daydream about the things you want to do with your landscape and set goals so that you can accomplish your projects once good weather arrives.  Educate yourself on how your gardening techniques affect your landscape and the creatures living within your own ecosystem.  We need to think about how our actions impact a needed biodiversity in our landscape.  Our own little world, estate, is a part of the bigger ecosystem in which we live.  Prepare for the weekly maintenance tasks as well.  90% of all insects are beneficial so allow them to do what they are meant to do.  Create habitats suitable for the life cycles of all our beneficial insects to flourish.  As our climate changes so do the number of pollinator species that are needed to pollinate our landscapes, especially food supplies.
  • Clean your tools and equipment – This is the perfect time to get your tools and equipment ready for the growing season.  Remove dirt and debris from all hand tools and dry completely.  Provide lubricating oils to the hand tools with moving parts such as hand pruners, lopping pruners, saws and pole pruners.  Service your power equipment by changing the oils, filters and greasing per the manufacturer’s recommendations.  Replace the line filament on your weed trimmers and replace any unused 2 cycle fuel mix.
  • Debris cleanup, Re-cycling and Composting – This winter has brought many storms with high winds and ice damage.  Remove broken branches from your trees and shrubs by following proper pruning methods. (Pruning techniques to be discussed later) Cut up the branches and limbs into manageable sizes.  Any size branches, twigs and leaves make excellent compost.  Compost is nature’s food for our plants.  Clean up of yard debris allows our grass lawns to grow unimpeded.  Debris left on lawns cause the grass to die, creates bare soil which is an open invitation for weed growth.
  • Pruning – While our trees and large shrubs are dormant now is a good time to raise the canopies of our trees by removing the lower limbs.  This will allow for ease in mowing, more light under the trees and the elimination of crossing branches and limbs.  The removal of crossing branches is essential when growing fruit trees, shrubs and vines.  Look for our pruning demonstrations throughout the growing season.
  • Education – Those of us who like to garden and landscape understand the importance of working with Mother Nature rather than against her.  Before tackling a landscape or garden project without any expertise, consult with a professional so that you will have an excellent chance at accomplishing your goals.  Drainage, above and below ground level, has to be addressed and solved for your projects to be successful.  Consider the maintenance of your projects both short and long term and the budgets needed for the maintenance.  Learn the latest design trends which use environmentally sound construction and installation techniques.  Learn how to create biodiverse landscapes which will in the long run provide us with improved living conditions.
  • Drainage – This time of year is a good time to assess your property’s drainage.  Inspect the gutters and downspouts of your home and make sure they are connected properly.  Look for any washouts or overflows and address.  Grade needs to flow positively away from your home on all sides or you will develop wetness inside the home.  Remove any brushy type plants that are growing near or within the gutters, downspouts and existing drains.  Any erosion that occurs can be controlled by lessening the grade or fall as water flows.  This can be as simple as winter seeding, mulching or construction of a wall.  More details to follow later in the year.
  • Winter seeding – Bare soil, hardpan areas and difficult sites can be successfully seeded this time of the year.  Remove any debris and expose the soil.  Scatter a good quality grass seed at the rate of 6 -7 pounds per 1000 square feet.  As freeze/thaw action occurs this winter the seed will be taken down into soil and will not germinate until the soil temperatures rise in the spring.  Cover the bare soil with straw, Penn mulch or one of the many types of seed cover products on the market.  Once germination occurs, apply a starter fertilizer, high in phosphorus for root development, at the rate of 6 pounds per 1000 square feet.
  • For detailed information or a personal consultation, please contact me.

 

January 19, 2017 – The garlic and rhubarb have begun to grow; temperatures have stimulated growth this week.

 

The cup of coffee rule – Prepare your favorite hot beverage and take a walk.  Observe your landscape in detail and pay attention to what you see, hear, smell and feel while you walk about your landscape.  Do this daily for a therapeutic moment in your busy life.