From his perch at “Gobbler’s Knob” in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the roly-poly fur ball of a rodent named Phil has predicted an early spring. The groundhog did not see his shadow today on Groundhog Day, February 2, 2013.
Every year, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club rises early with their charge and takes the rodent, usually hibernating at the Punxsutawney Memorial Library, to Gobbler’s Knob for the weather-prediction ceremony.
“Punxsutawney Phil, the King of the Groundhogs, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, Weather Prophet without Peer, was awakened from his borrow at 7:28 a.m. with a tap of the President’s cane,” announced the Groundhog Club. The statement went on to say, “And so ye faithful, there is no shadow to see an early spring for you and me.”
Legend has it if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, six more weeks of winter weather are in store; if he doesn’t see a shadow, spring is around the corner. So, now…we must plan.
- Tune up mowers and garden equipment before the busy season begins.
- Test your soil at your garden plot to determine nutrient needs.
- Plan your herb bed for cooking. Among the choices are parsley, sage, chives, and lavender. Choose a sunny spot for the herb bed, and plant seeds or transplants after the danger of frost has passed.
- Plan to add perennial flowers to your flowering landscape this spring. Examples include candytuft, peony, penstemon, coneflower.
Maintenance and Clean Up
- Repair winter damage to trees and shrubs.
- Make a cold frame or hotbed to start early vegetables or flowers.
- Fertilize rhubarb with manure or compost.
- Incorporate organic matter into your soil.
- Prune and train grapes; make cuttings.
- Prune fruit trees and blueberries.
- Prune deciduous summer-blooming shrubs and trees.
- Prune and train trailing blackberries and black raspberries (if not done in late August),
- Prune fall-bearing raspberries (late in Feb or early March).
- Prune clematis and other vining ornamentals.
- Plant windowsill container gardens of lettuce and herbs.
- Now is a good time to plant fruit trees and deciduous shrubs.
- Plant asparagus if the ground is warm enough.
- Plant seed flats of cole crops (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts), indoors or in greenhouse.
- Where soil is dry enough and workable, plant garden peas and sweet peas. Give great consideration to growing heirloom plants from seed and avoid GMO veggie seeds. A great source for heirlooms is http://www.rareseeds.com. Also, check with the local organic farms to see if they have seed that they will sell to you. There are quite a few fabulous ones in the area.
- Good time to plant new roses.
Pest Monitoring and Management
- Monitor landscape plants for problems. Use delayed-dormant sprays of lime sulfur for fruit and deciduous trees and shrubs.
- Remove cankered limbs from fruit and nut trees for control of diseases such as apple anthracnose, bacterial canker of stone fruit and eastern filbert blight. Sterilize tools before each new cut.
- Control moles and gophers with traps or plants to deter the varmints.
- Elm leaf beetles and box-elder bugs are emerging from hibernation and may be seen indoors. They are not harmful, but can be a nuisance. Remove them with a vacuum or broom and dustpan.
- Monitor for European crane fly and treat lawns if damage has been verified.
- Identify problems before acting, and opt for the least toxic approach. Cultural, physical and biological controls are the cornerstones of a sustainable pest management program. Least-toxic choices are insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, botanical insecticides and organic and synthetic pesticides.
Houseplants and Indoor Gardening
- Pasteurize soil for starting seedlings in pots or flats, or use clean, sterile commercial mixes.