By Brent Gray
Most of the state is now very wet after last week’s steady rain. A full soil profile is a good thing, a flooded one is not. Avoid walking on soil that will not bear your weight without leaving depressions.
Some daffodils and hyacinths have already responded to the very warm temperatures and are sprouting. Don’t be fooled into thinking the cold weather is over. Plant only hardy vegetables like onions, kale, collards, spinach or be ready to supply protection to half-hardy crops like lettuce, mustard and cauliflower. Mid January to mid February normally has large swings in temperatures and half-hardy crops need to be protected when temperatures drop into the twenties.
Seed racks are appearing in all sorts of stores now. Have a plan as to your needs before succumbing to impulse buying and winding up with more seed than you have room for. Old varieties can often be found in racks where you wouldn’t expect to find any seed.. I found Homestead tomato seed in a bargain rack for fifty cents a pack in a discount store. Next time you drop in to buy your necessities, ask if they have a seed rack and go browse. It gives you something garden to do while it is too wet to work.
The next dry, windless day is the time to apply dormant oil to fruit trees. Dormant oil helps manage scale insects and some mites. Winter applications of dormant oil will diminish the number of adults who overwinter and start the increase in numbers in Spring. Always follow label directions when using any pesticide.
The garden catalogs continue to arrive in the mail. Most of us set those that arrived during the holidays aside. Now is the time to gather these catalogs together, sit down and start looking, dreaming and planning this year’s garden. Be adventuresome and order some different plants and seeds this year.
You may want to try some of the new introductions or some of the All American Selection winners. Place your order early, as supplies are limited from some companies, to get the selections you want, when you want them. Make a copy of your order for future reference.
It is easy to get “bug-eyed” with all the colorful, glossy pictures in these catalogs, and order more than you really need or have time to take care of. You might want to put your wish list together, set it aside for a day or two, and then review the list again and ask yourself a couple of hard questions before making your final decision. “Do I really have room for all these plants in my yard?” “Will the color, shape, size, texture, etc. fit into my existing landscape design?” “Do I have time to plant, seed, maintain, etc. this selection?” Now, that you have given this decision considerable thought, you are ready to order those plants or seeds.
With the excessive rainfall encountered the past few weeks most home lawns are overly saturated with water and in some areas lawns have been completely under water for several days. While these conditions bring lawn damage concerns to homeowners the situation is not and will not be as bad as it may appear with a few precautions taken. Since this flooding is occurring now when our warm season lawns are mostly dormant and the air and soil are cold little is happening within the turf plants as to respiration or transpiration so the turf is not that greatly affected directly from the excess water like it would be if it was mid-summer.
However, this excess water can indirectly have an impact on the health of the turf later if precautions are not taken to prevent soil compaction and pest pressures. Avoid as much traffic on the lawn as possible particularly on heavy soil types until the soil has had time to drain. Lawn disease patho-gens tend to proliferate under high moisture and with surface water movement these pathogens will most likely have been spread throughout the lawn so carefully scout for diseases and be prepared to apply appropriate fungicides if necessary. Weed seed are also carried across the lawn from surface water so applying pre-emergent herbicides prior to germination will help prevent weed infestations.
David Nagel, Lelia Kelly, Wayne Wells