SALISBURY — The holidays are over and many people want to get outdoors and continue with their gardening chores. Below are a few gardening activities that may need attention.
Add mulch: Now is a great time to add mulch to your shrubs, perennials and trees to increase winter protection. Mulch helps prevent freeze and thaw problems that can kill plants, especially perennials. Mulch holds the ground to a more even temperature. Pine needles, pine bark and soil conditioners are readily available at local retail outlets.
Order your seed: Many home gardeners have received their annual garden catalogs. Now is the time to order while there are ample seed supplies. Some cultivars have very limited quantities. Be leery of fantastic yields or amazing blooms. Avoid plant cultivars that do not list their Latin names.
Have a plan: Gardeners should take the opportunity to enjoy some time inside during the cold days to peruse gardening magazines and books. Use the information and plan to incorporate new materials in your garden this year.
Winter pruning: Cut back dead perennials to the ground and apply mulch. Now is the time to take out dead or damaged tree limbs as well as overgrown evergreen shrubs. Avoid severely pruning evergreen shrubs. Pruning ornamental grasses can also wait until late spring and enjoy the winter interest.
Keep your shrubs and containers watered: Our weather can be unpredictable. Keep newly planted trees and shrubs, as well as container plants, irrigated. Container plantings suffer both from temperature extremes and lack of water, especially with cold, windy weather.
Pecan leaves and hulls: Remove all the leaves and husks from underneath and around the tree and compost them far away from the trees. Burn fallen limbs or those damaged by insects such as twig girdler. Go to http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/ag81.html for more complete information on pecan production.
Build your raised beds: Now is the time to construct raised beds in preparation for early spring planting. Research has proven that raised beds produce more vegetables that conventional plantings. Locate the beds where they can be adequately irrigated and in areas that get sun all day long. Sun is the very important factor that most beginner gardeners overlook in their locations. For more information about raised beds, visit the website: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/quickref/vegetable/intensive_veg_gardening.html
Darrell Blackwelder is the County Extension director with horticulture responsibilities with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. 704-216-8970