Hubby pruned the apricot down to the ground this year. The tree seldom set fruit. There is nothing better than a sun ripened apricot still warm from the tree. Alas, here in the Puget Sound Basin we are lucky to get one or two disease-free ripe apricots a year. My tree was lush enough, but it just bloomed before the pollinators were out. Occasionally, it got pollinated then we would get a freeze. Stone fruit in general doesn’t do well in my climate.
So now that the trees are pruned, what else needs to be done in the garden? This is a great time to be setting out beer traps for slugs. We need supersize beer traps here. I make them out of plastic juice jugs. I cut a large hole about two inches up from the bottom of the jug, add a whole can of beer, sing the Washington State University fight song, yell “Frat Party,” and place my trap in the desired bed. I usually get about two dozen slugs in a night. I empty the mess on the compost pile and repeat the process with the can of beer, fight song, and frat party.
In many places, weeding this time of year is not advised because the soil is wet and will form hard compacted clumps if disturbed. This is not a hard-fast rule. Since I live on layers of glacial till, my native soil is basically sand and gravel. I can weed year round without damaging the soil. The down side is I have to weed year round, need to add tons of organic matter, and mulch heavily to keep the beds from drying in the summer. If it stops raining, I’ll go weed.
My true gardening joy this time of year is my greenhouse. Hubby just installed new LED lights on the starting shelves. I can begin starting the first round of seeds any time now. I want to get the larkspur started first. I usually start snapdragons before the end of January. Stock can also be started. The stock will be ready for May bouquets if started now. I may plant it out in the squash bed and pull it before the squash starts go in.
Right now in the greenhouse, I am storing the dahlia tubers in a tub filled with coir. The tub sits on the floor and stays cool enough. The forced tulips are coming up. The trick with the tulips is to make them grow tall before blooming. I haven’t turned the LED lights on yet in hopes the relative dark will make the tulips stretch. I usually force them for Valentine’s Day, but the bulbs arrived so late this year they may not bloom on time, because they didn’t have enough time to grow healthy roots before coming inside.
I usually don’t have troubles with pests in my greenhouse. If I see something with aphids or whiteflies, it goes outside immediately. Even citrus can survive temperatures down to freezing for the short period of time needed to get rid of the pests. I may also use a dilute ammonia spray for pests. I seldom have to resort to either the spray or the exile. I try to space plants far enough apart that they have good air flow, and I keep a fan running all the time in there.
I have developed a greenhouse pest that is challenging to get rid of. Hubby has moved in there with his woodworking sawdust, stains, steel wool, sandpaper and mess. He likes the greenhouse. It is warm and light. He can work on his hobbies in the dry and quiet. He seems to think he doesn’t have to clean up his sanding. I am researching non-toxic methods of eliminating hubbies from the greenhouse. I suspect that if I demand he vacuum the whole place, he’ll leave and not come back.
For the next week or so, I’ll start seeds in the greenhouse, then comes the GARDEN SHOW. I may have to go to the garden show alone since my business partner thought it would be more fun to go to Brazil in February. Still, I will have fun. I can take a water taxi into Seattle. I have a list of things to buy and some seminars I want to attend.
When garden show is over, the daffodils will be blooming, my flower stand will open and the 2016 gardening season will be in full swing. Perhaps I should start panicking about that intruder in the greenhouse. I’m so not ready.