Cranking The Sleeping Lawmower and Tiller

Ray Baird

THE LONGEST MONTH OF WINTER IS HALF OVER The middle of January has arrived even though there is plenty of winter remaining, the half way point of the month makes spring seem much closer with days getting a minute longer each day and a robin or two on the lawn plus a few spring hyacinths spiking out of the soil, plus a few frogs croaking down by the creek are a few messengers of the future spring.

REMOVING SNOW AND ICE FROM LIMBS AND BUSHES The weight of snow and ice can bend and break limbs and branches and get them out of shape. Keep a rake and a broom handy to remove snow and ice from shrubs, bushes and low hanging tree limbs. Keep blown-in snow off carports and driveways to prevent falling.

PANDA AND ASPARAGUS FERNS THRIVING IN LIVING ROOM There is plenty of green in mid-winter in the sunny living room with Christmas cactus, panda fern and the asparagus fern wintering over, as well as a huge snake plant. The ferns need to be trimmed back once a month to keep them shaped up. A drink of water each week and liquid fertilizer every month and they a re good for the whole winter.

THE FROZEN SOD OF A JANUARY MORNING The sod in a garden plot if crunchy on a cold morning in January but a blessing in the fact that the frozen soil will trim down the insect population and control the weed population at the same time. It will keep the sap down deep in the roots of trees and grapevines so they wont bud too early, and it will give us plenty of time to get them pruned before spring. This is the month for freezes so that when it snows it can stick to the ground.

CRANKING UP THE SLEEPING LAWNMOWER AND TILLER A cold winter is rough on equipment that is out in cold outbuildings. Start the engine and let it run for a minute or two every week to let it warm up and circulate the fluids through the engine. Make sure there is fuel in the equipment and add some gas stabilizer to the tank for winter protection. We don’t think it is a good idea to run the tank dry and leave the mower setting idle all winter which will only make it harder to start next spring.

KEEPING FEEDERS FILLED AND EMPTYING ICE FROM BIRDBATHS The birds are active during winter and colorful when they gather around the feeders on a winter morning. We hope we’ll gab a cup of coffee and go out on the porch of the deck and watch them several times each week. Keep feeders full and empty ice from birdbaths and refill as the sun warms the temperatures.

THE PERENNIALS ON THE DECK IN WINTER Plenty of green and color is on the deck during the cold of winter and they are a pleasure to watch when their surroundings are drab and dormant. The American Bee Balm is green and tough as well as the periwinkle, coral bells, dianthus, hens and chickens, creeping phlox, pink thrift and bugle weed. They don’t even need much water in the winter because the sun doesn’t dry out their containers and the snow, rain and ice gives them the moisture they need. They are a great investment for carefree, yearlong beauty.

READY FOR THE WINTER SNOW We are ready for snow, the kids and grand kids are ready for snow and the garden plot is ready for a snow. The kids need a break form school and we need some snow fun with the kids. The lawn needs the snow to make the grass greener and nitrogen-rich for spring. The garden plot needs a snow to kill harboring insects and weed seeds. We need a snow just because it is mid- January!

THE MOTHER OF A WINTER SNOWSTORM In the reference to snow, we have the recipe for snow in January and here it is: first of all, we need a fair day in January that is filled with Carolina blue sky, which in the afternoon turns from pretty blue to dark gray. The wind switches to northwest and quickly dumps six or more inches of snowman-type snow on us as we watch it fall during the winter twilight.

A SPECIAL HINT OF GREEN IN MID-JANUARY There is still some green during mid-January as the American violet makes its appearance with it’s heart-shaped dark green leaves as a harbinger of Valentine’s Day. If you have one or two clumps of violets on the edge of your lawn, you can shovel the clump and move it closer to the house to observe and enjoy. We have one in a container on the desk that thrives all year long.

CHECK OUT GARDEN HOSES IN WINTER MONTHS When you use the hoses in the winter to rinse the salt from vehicles or water something outside, always disconnect the hose from the outlet and cover the outlet. Most hardware and home-improvement warehouses carry insulated outside faucet covers that cost less than ten dollars and they are a good investment to prevent freezes.

CHECKING FURNACE FILTERS IN THE WINTER The furnace is working hard, you can makes it’s job easier and cleaner by inspecting the filter twice a month and cleaning or changing it when needed. Write the size of your filter on the door of the furnace so everyone will know what size to purchase.

REMEMBER TO CHECK THE 2016 SEED CATALOGS The catalogs have now piled up and waiting for you to browse through them to see what’s new and unusual for the garden this year. Oder only what is not available locally because you’ll have to pay shipping and handling and also more for less seeds. Local seed stores, hardware and garden garden departments now have plenty of flower and vegetable seeds in their business just waiting for you to check out.

Ray Baird has been providing gardening tips to the community for years and can be reached at 336-969-9350 or at

Ray Baird

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