3810 Whites Creek Pike, Nashville, TN 37207 (615) 876-1014

Archive date:  January 25, 2013

So far, so good

Winter has been gracious to this point

With our first spell of legitimate winter conditions now past, it is a good time to take a quick check on the status of our gardens. To this point we are experiencing a near carbon-copy (for you younger gardeners, carbon-copy is an antiquated reference to document duplication from the typewriter era) of last year. Everything weather-wise looks to be set for a mild to moderate winter. That can change with little notice, however.

Gardeners by nature are risk-takers. That doesn’t mean that most of us are into crap-shoot gardening; quite the contrary. There is little in life that is totally removed from risk. As gardeners, we collectively learn to ‘hedge’ (no pun intended) our bets in the landscape. Success is often directly attributable to understanding where small, but very important tasks, should be undertaken.

Take container gardens/planters for starts. Any year-round planting that is above the ground level is susceptible to the extremes of cold (and heat for that matter) much more so than anything planted in the ground. As I have previously mentioned, perhaps ad nauseum, plantings in containers need to be watered thoroughly prior to severe cold. I would define severe cold as low temperatures of 15 degrees or less. While the water will freeze; it will provide insulation, and slow down the rapid temperature change in the soil.

Yet another of the most pragmatic winter gardening endeavors is the use of dormant oil. Dormant oil is paraffinic oil that coats pests, such as mites or scale, and suffocates them. You’ll be clutching your own throat if you fail to do this. Since dormant oil uses no harmful chemicals, merely the physical properties of oil to do its dirty deed, it is at once very safe for the applicator and lethal to the applicatee. It is also a very economical. There are a few plants where dormant oil should not be applied, so as always, read the entire label before using this or any product. 

It is important to fully appreciate winter. If we all did not go through winter, spring would be decidedly less wonderful.

David Bates