NELSON: A few winter gardening tips

Published 8:31 pm Friday, January 26, 2018

In our part of the country, January and February are likely cold, gray and blustery days and gardening is the last thing on most people’s minds. However, according to our state Extension Specialist there are some winter gardening chores, that if done now will yield great rewards later.

So, layer on some warm clothing and get busy. Here are some chores that are recommended:

Mulch

This inexpensive method of moderating soil temperature and protecting the plants roots is a must. Also, with the leaves that have dropped from our deciduous trees, rake them around the root of your plants (shrubbery) to protect the roots or put them in your compost beds for later use. Two to four inches is sufficient for most plants.

Watering

Most plants may need watering if conditions are dry. Pay special attention to newly planted trees or shrubs.

Treat Fruit Trees

If you’re growing fruit trees in your home orchard, this is a good time to treat for insect problems before they develop later in the spring. There are general purpose and dormant oil sprays for fruit trees, but be sure to read instructions carefully and apply materials correctly to prevent burn.

Pruning Roses

Some will prune roses by mid-February, but it is okay to wait until March even if a few buds have developed.

Pruning Free Trees

February is perfect for pruning apple and pear trees. Peaches, nectarines and plums, are more susceptible to cold damage after pruning and should not be trimmed until March or early April. Annual pruning is vital to fruit production, this includes grape vines, blueberries, and blackberries.

Lawn

Our warm season turf grasses like Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine and Centipede are still dormant. It is not advisable to fertilize this early as a late cold spell could wreak havoc on new growth.

Soil Sample

Now is the time to take a sample of the soil and have it tested. Having the soil sampled is a priority, because the test will tell you the health of the soil and what nutrient/fertilizers are needed based on what you will plant. Soil sample kits are available at our office.

Order Seeds

If it’s too cold to get outside and all else fails, grab the seed catalog and make plans for what you will plant in the spring.

Do be careful about a couple of issues. Some seed companies offer plant material that is better adapted to other regions of the country, so be sure to check and see if what your order is suited for the southeastern United States.

Be sure to reputable dealers – check with our local retailers for advice.

Also, you may want to register for the upcoming Fruit and/or Vegetable classes that will be taught as part of our Farming 101 course.

For more information on the Farming 101 Course and other gardening topics contact us at the Dallas County Extension Office at 334-875-3200 or visit us on the web at www.aces.edu for publications and materials.