During this time of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic stay-at-home and social distancing, now is the perfect year to start vegetable gardening.
Nothing’s better than eating a tomato or lettuce just picked from your own garden.
Plus, gardening is very therapeutic. Working outside in the fresh air, getting exercise, a good family activity, even being able to save money at the grocery store are all really great stress-relieving reasons to garden.
When planning your garden, it’s important to ask yourself a few basic questions:
- Who will be doing the work?
Spotted lanternflies, brown marmorated stink bugs, boxelder bugs, mosquitoes, flies.
When will they be hatching or coming out of dormancy?
Will the 2019-2020 winter of warm temperatures in the Lehigh Valley increase insect populations in the spring?
Winters of extremely cold temperatures also influence insect populations for a following spring and summer.
The answer to both questions may surprise you.
Winter weather has little influence on insect populations for the following spring. This does not mean that winter temperatures do not play a role.
Winter-blooming hellebores have extensive, woody root systems that enable them to thrive and bloom in freezing temperatures.
The earliest blooming hellebores (Heleborus foetitus) in the Lehigh Valley can bloom as early as December and may continue into April. In a cool spring, some species will continue blooming into May, by which time they will set seed and stop producing flowers.
The days are shorter (albeit getting slightly longer minute by minute), the wind is cold and plants are dormant. Even so, this is one of the best times to start planning for spring.
During winter, we should be preparing for another successful season of gardening. Here are some tips to make your garden a success.
Check out the landscape for signs of insects and diseases. Be on the lookout for spotted lanternfly egg masses. For information on what to look for and how to destroy the eggs: extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly.
Choosing firewood to burn in your fireplace or wood-burning stove is much like selecting any favorite item.
The fuel-wood connoisseur will want to choose his or her wood carefully and weigh his or her needs and tastes before building a fire.
Softwoods, like pine, spruce and fir, are easy to ignite because they are resinous. They burn rapidly with a hot flame.
However, since a fire built entirely of softwoods burns out quickly, it requires frequent attention and replenishment.
The weather may be cold, but your green thumb is still itching.
What can you do? You can still do some gardening, even at this time of the year: indoor gardening.
We see amaryllis being sold every fall in the local grocery store or garden center. They look great, but are they easy to grow? As with any plant, give it the right conditions and some TLC and you’ll reap the rewards.
The holiday season is made more alive and enjoyable by the flowering and fruiting plants associated with it. You can enjoy these plants long after the holidays have become a memory, if you are willing to administer a little sensible care.
The favorite is the poinsettia, available in varying shades of red, pink, white and marbled. Exposure to freezing temperatures, to overheated or drafty rooms, or to several days of drying may cut short your enjoyment of a poinsettia, regardless of how much or little tender loving care you lavish on it.
Most of the perennials in the garden are finished blooming and it’s time to throw in the towel for the growing season.
Some perennials, however, can be left standing and this begs the question, “to cut or not to cut?”
It’s easy to make a decision with annuals. After the first frost when they are blackened and looking ugly, pull them out and throw them in the compost bin.
Likewise, clean up plant debris from the vegetable garden.
When asked what to do with perennials, as with many gardening questions, the answer is: “It depends.”
It unfortunately was a productive Summer of 2019 for the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), an invasive pest present in Pennsylvania and some other eastern states.
The SLF threatens grape production, tree health and can damage high-value ornamentals in home landscapes.
At stake are Pennsylvania’s grape, tree-fruit, hardwood, nursery and landscape businesses, which generate agricultural crops and forest products worth nearly $18 billion annually.
Native to parts of Asia, the SLF was identified for the first time in the United States in Hereford, Berks County, in 2014.
Mosquitoes are small, primitive flies that breed in standing water.
During their life, they pass through four distinct stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
The eggs, which are laid in or near water, hatch into larvae (wrigglers) within a few days. In many cases, the eggs are laid in bunches in distinct, raftlike structures, but they also may be laid singly.