PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It may be cold and drab outside, but spring is just around the corner. Now is a perfect time to start thinking about your garden so when the ground thaws, you'll be ready. There are a number of things you can be doing right now to make the most of this chilly season.
1. Observe How Snow Melts
Did you know how the differences in the way snow melts in your yard can tell you where and what to plant in the spring? For example, the area up against a stone house would be warmer than farther out into your yard, because the stone will retain heat. Julie Bare, Meadowbrook Farm's Estate Gardener, recommends noting these patterns, so then plan to plant accordingly. "Borderline hardy plants that ordinarily wouldn't make it through a winter without special citing" would thrive in a micro-climate. Some plants to keep in mind for our zone (pst, we're zone 6!) are Trachycarpus fortunei (Windmill Palm), Agapanthus 'Storm Cloud' (Lily of the Nile), and Ficus carica (Common Fig).
2. Cut Back on the Salt
Sodium isn't just bad for your heart; the salt you are using to melt ice is also a threat to your home garden. Sally McCabe, Associate Director of Community Education at PHS, recommends cutting down on your garden's salt intake by mixing in an abrasive like sand, kitty litter, or wood ashes; or use an alternative like calcium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate (CMA).
3. Knock It Off
Bushes may look pretty covered in white fluffy snow, but a thick layer is heavy and could be doing some serious damage to your garden. When shoveling, gently knock the snow off your evergreen bushes to prevent branches from breaking under the weight of the snow.
4. Organize Your Tools
What good is a tool if you can't find it when you need it?! Check your tool inventory now, organize and pick up any additional gloves or trowels you will need in the spring (when you will be too busy planting). And while you have your hands on your tools, might as well prep them for planting season...
5. Prep Your Tools
The staff at PHS Meadowbrook Farm has just sharpened and cleaned all of their hand tools in preparation for the warmer and busier months ahead. Give wood-handled tools a quick sand and a coat of linseed oil. Power tools should be serviced, too. Clean and sharpen lawn mower blades. Change the oil and air filter, and check the sparkplugs!
6. Start Your Seeds
If you plan to start seeds indoors, now is the time to begin. Glen Ashton, Head Gardener at PHS Meadowbrook Farm, is currently in the process of ordering seeds to be sown indoors. Some seeds can be started earlier than others, like broccoli, lettuce, onion and peppers. Save beans, celery, corn, melon and squash for later. Create a schedule of sow dates, and when you plan on moving them outdoors to get the best results.
7. Find Design Inspiration
Get up close and personal with the best of the best for inspiration all in one place. The Philadelphia Flower Show has acres of garden and floral displays. You can chat with the designers for tips and ideas to bring home and put to use this spring. Take in a workshop at the Gardener's Studio where experts from around the country, top-selling authors and local horticultural gurus share their passion.
The PHS Philadelphia Flower Show is the nation's largest and longest-running horticultural event and features stunning displays by the world's premier floral and landscape designers. The 2016 Philadelphia Flower Show, "Explore America" will usher in spring at the Pennsylvania Convention Center from March 5 - 13 with designs inspired by our country's National Parks.