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Great Lakes: January/February Gardening

A Wisconsin Master Gardener shares current tips and news

Top 5 “to do’s” for January and February:

  • Put plans on paper for new garden beds in the yard and search books and websites for new plants
  • Empty seed pods that have dried from fall-gatehred seeds into separate envelopes for spring planting
  • Share seeds and ideas with other gardeners.
  • Make new items for the garden: birdhouses, cement stepping stones and leaves for birdbaths. I press leaves and flowers from my garden during the summer and make greeting cards with them to send to family and friends.
  • Gather materials for composting: wood shavings, shredded paper from the office, etc.

Recent local gardening trend: Moving the indoors outside. Our summers are so short here, but we have been seeing more and more remodel projects for screened-in porches.

Biggest current challenge to local gardeners: We actually are fighting two battles right now. We have had a problem with Japanese beetles, and the emerald ash borers.

Japanese Beetles will devour plants, especially scented plants like roses, peony, porcelain vine and zinnias. They chew plants to nothing overnight. Solution—milky spore for the lawn is one of the most effective ways of eliminating the beetle grub. It must be ingested during feeding. They become infected and die. But they are powerful flyers, and can spread quickly—when found in an area it is important for the whole area to treat lawns and gardens for the grub.

The Emerald Ash borer has been found very close to our county. The borer will lay its eggs under the bark of the ash tree and when the larvae hatch they feed on the wood causing girdling of the tree. This prevents the top of the tree from getting water and nutrients and eventually kills the top portion of the tree. Which in turn will kill the whole tree over time. Solution—quarantine. Move firewood, ash nursery stock and timber to keep the borer from spreading. Right now this has been the only solution for now. Wisconsin has 727 million ash trees—it would be a terrible waste to have to cut them all down!!!

About Peggy: When indoors for the winter I scrapbook and stamp cards. My husband and I mull over seed catalogs and plan trips for the spring to new green houses. Our two sons are grown and on their own. I work full time so that keeps me very busy. I have to be very organized by March, so if the snow has melted, I can get a jump on the spring projects. I have been gardening for well over 20 years—a Master Gardner Volunteer for 4 years. I love to try new plants. I have a sunroom, so in March and April it is transformed into the “nursery” where I start seeds and dahlia tubers for the spring. I usually start extra plants and share with family, donate to Master Gardner plant sales and plant at our church and school.

Sheboygan County Master Gardeners