1. Clean, sharpen, oil and perform maintenance on gardening tools.
2. Whitewash trunks of fruit trees to protect them from “freeze/ thaw” damage and slow sap flow so the buds don’t get nipped by a late frost.
3. Check on hardy Witch Hazel and Cornus Kousa… they should be about ready to bloom; followed by just a week or so by Forsythia in February.
4. While you’re pruning, be sure to save a few scions for grafting when sap flow starts in March or April. Cut sections of “last season’s growth” to 6-8 inch sections, dip them in 1 part/10 parts Bleach water and store in a Ziploc bag in your frig with a “barely” damp paper towel to keep them from drying out. Too much moisture will make them mold.
5. It’s a good time to get control of vigorous vines. Prune dead hops down to ground-level, radically prune grapes (less vine=more fruit), lightly trim clematis vines and don’t forget honeysuckle. Since the latter roots easily, stick a few 6-10 inch sections in the ground where you’d like more and you should get about 50% success at them growing roots.
6. Seed Catalogs are arriving this month, so start planning your garden for spring. Draw a schematic and decide on selections you want. Remember, the best deals are usually early-bird specials, so order well before the end of February.
7. The closest BIG Flower & Garden Show is taking place February 23-27, so check out travel and hotel accommodations now to enjoy all it has to offer for Anchorage area gardeners and those throughout the Northwest. Surprisingly, Seattle’s climate doesn’t differ a whole lot from here in Anchorage… they are one zone warmer, and don’t get our snow, but many of the plants featured in the show will grow up North here due to the warmth of the Japanese Current.
8. From the end of this month through March is the best time to prune fruit trees and shrubs. That way the first energy of spring growth goes into healing cuts and then is redirected to the remaining branches and fruit production.
9. While you’re thinking about pruning, make an appointment with an arborist or tree surgeon to schedule any work you want accomplished in the next couple of months. Once pruning season starts, you can be sure their schedules will fill up fast.
10. Get ready to coppice your dogwoods and willows next month. The color-twig dogwoods (blood-twig, Mid-winter Fire, red-twig and yellow-twig)all respond best to chopping completely to the base, leaving only 4-8 inches of stub from which they grow new, bright-barked stems for next year’s show.
11. Be sure to keep branches and other debris cleaned off your lawn as storms and inclement weather deposit them there. Grass MUST have light in order to thrive even if it’s only the light that filters through a layer of snow. Keeping excess leaves and branches cleaned off, also assures less chance of snow mould while the lawn is covered.
12. Decorate your “live” Christmas tree from last month with strings of popcorn, dried fruits and pine cone decorations, smeared with peanut butter and rolled in bird seed. The new addition to your yard is sure to attract wildlife.
13. Purchase lime for your lawn so you can spread it during half-time of the super bowl. This task tips the odds in favor of your grass, but inhibits moss. It’s quick and easy to spread with a drop-spreader and since it takes about 3 months to begin altering the pH of your soil, doing it during the super bowl each year is a great way to remember the proper time and assure you get it done!
14. Don’t forget to turn you compost pile! Even in cold weather, it’s important to introduce oxygen into the middle of the pile to help it break down in time for use in the garden this spring.
Email your gardening questions to [email protected] for Master Gardener answers. Perhaps your question will appear in the next newsletter! Written, edited and distributed by Di Braun for free personal use by those who enjoy gardening. Please contact the writer for details on redistribution through commercial entities. Click on http://glowbass.com/x-22763-Anchorage-Gardening-Examiner for an archive of landscape newsletters and articles.