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Pruning plants in February? Are you crazy? Or crazy not to?

1. Why to prune in February – Proper pruning helps ensure attractive, healthy, productive plants when spring arrives.
2. Get ready – Sharpen your tools. A sharp pruning cut is essential to a plant’s health.
3. Do your pruning right – Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of our pruning guide to make sure you’re getting the results you want.

1. Why to prune in February

There are plenty of reasons to stay inside in February:
− Every instinct wants to continue our hibernation inside in the warmth this month. It’s part of our natural seasonal rhythm.
− “No way can I get outside on these cold, miserable grey days! I don’t even walk the dog right now!”
There are also plenty of reasons to get outside in February:
− As garden lovers we know the many benefits of the exercise and sunlight, as well as the rewards from nurturing something we love and of being once again close to the earth after months away.
− Proper pruning helps ensure attractive, healthy, productive plants when spring arrives.
− From late Winter (from mid-February) to very early spring (before the buds show) is the time to prune Summer-flowering deciduous woody plants such as Butterfly Bush, Beautyberry and Japanese Spirea.
− These plants bloom in summer on the current year’s new growth. If you prune too late and remove the buds, you will have no flowers this year.
− Many deciduous shrubs don’t produce attractive flowers. These shrubs may possess attractive bark, fruit, or fall leaf color. Prune these shrubs now in late winter or very early spring before the buds show.
− Above all, deciduous shrubs should not be pruned in late summer. Pruning shrubs in August or early September may encourage a late flush of growth. This new growth may not harden sufficiently before the arrival of cold weather and be susceptible to winter injury.
− Old, neglected spring-flowering shrubs often require extensive pruning to rejuvenate or renew the plants. The best time to rejuvenate large, overgrown shrubs is late winter or early spring before the plants begin to leaf out.

2. How to get ready

Sharpen your tools. A sharp pruning cut is essential to a plant’s health.
− Clean the pruners/loppers with warm soapy water and wire wool.
− Then apply a lubricant such as WD40.
− Clean cuts allow the plant to heal well. Many people are unsure as to what to use to sharpen pruners.
− Backyard Bounty suggests DMT “Diafold” sharpeners. We have years of experience in using them and have learned to love their high quality and their convenience. Much faster than other sharpeners, and no oil needed. They fold to pocket size. The blade is protected at all times once folded and they last for many years even when used continually.
− We suggest the “coarse grit’ (blue) for any neglected blades and the red one (“fine grit”) if you are just maintaining a keen edge on a regularly sharpened blade (ie red is for the gardener who is good at maintaining their tools……………not so many of us in this category!!!)
− Method: Hold the “Diafold” sharpener at a 20-30 degree angle against the blade of the pruners or loppers. With pressure on the outer edge of the pruners’ blade, file all the way along the blade in one direction, away from you. Lift and repeat. Don’t go back and forth. Test for sharpness on a small branch if needed.

− Backyard Bounty has found ‘AM Leonard’ to be a good and reasonably priced source for a varied selection of high quality garden tools.
Link to DMT “Diafold” Coarse Grit (blue) sharpener mentioned above. They also supply the “fine grit” sharpener (red).

3. Do your pruning right

Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of our early pruning guide to make sure you’re getting the results you want.

Time to plant strawberries?

Johnny’s Seeds sent us our bare root strawberry plants at the ‘appropriate planting time for our region.’

Hoping today’s rain will wash away the last of the snow so we can plant them.

Inoculating Peas

Peas take nitrogen from the atmosphere and ‘fix’ it in the soil. Adding beneficial bacteria to the soil through an inoculant helps the peas do this extra efficiently. Here’s a good system for inoculating peas (and beans for that matter) with a commercially available bacteria (total natural and approved for organic farming, btw)
1. Place peas in a glass of water
2. Remove the peas and place the peas in a second glass
3. Sprinkle pea inoculant in the glass and shake up the peas till they are coated
4. Plant peas

You don’t need to add additional nitrogen to the soil when you plant inoculated peas, and you can till in the peas when they are done and enrich the soil in your garden bed.

We get our inoculant from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Maine:Inoculant for peas and beans

3 Years with NO DEER???

Check out the barrier MD Extension Specialist Jon Traunfield built that has been successful at keeping deer (and rabbits and groundhogs) out for 3 successive years.

GROW IT EAT IT BLOG

SEEDS!

Getting ready to plant peas: apprentice gardener Kris learns how to pull winter weeds, add compost and turn the soil. Love this excuse to pass off the heavy lifting and just show up for the planting….

© Copyright Backyard Bounty - Photos (c) Regis Lefebure