Gardener’s Checklist: Final advice from Ron Kujawski
Gather all the discarded Christmas trees around the neighborhood. Tell your neighbors that you are doing this out of goodwill. In reality, you want to use branches cut from the trees as mulch over perennial borders — neighbors don’t have to know that. Since snow seems hard to come by thus far this season (that statement will guarantee a blizzard), the boughs will protect plants from heaving out of the ground as a result of alternate freezing/thawing cycles.
Get your power equipment tuned or repaired during the winter months. Don’t wait until spring when repair shops are jammed with procrastinators — no, that’s not a new type of garden cultivator.
Wondering what to do with those holiday plants you bought or received? Well, wonder no more. Here are some tips:
Amaryllis — After the flowers are spent, cut off the flower stalk about 2 inches above the bulb. Water the plant regularly and apply a water-soluble plant fertilizer every two to three weeks until late summer. Then let the soil dry and cut back the foliage. Store the potted bulb in a cool, dark place until new growth begins in fall.
Azalea — Keep potted azaleas in bright light but at cool temperatures. Water enough to keep the soil evenly moist. Prune lightly in June to shape the plant and set it outdoors for the summer.
Cyclamen — Another plant that likes bright light and cool temperatures, cyclamen will continue to bloom for many weeks. Once it stops blooming, gradually reduce watering and allow the plant to go dormant. In late June, begin watering again to spur growth.
Thirty-three years ago, Marietta Pritchard, an editor of Hampshire Life, persuaded me to write a weekly column focused on current gardening tasks. The format suited my preferred writing style — brief. Yes, I was always the kid in class who wrote the two-page term paper while everyone else submitted the equivalent of an encyclopedia. Writing, speaking, mental telepathy and all other forms of communication have never come easy to me. So I am somewhat surprised to still be writing this column in 2012. I owe much of that longevity to the support and encouragement I received from Marietta and later Margot Cleary and Debra Scherban at the Gazette. I should also mention their incredible tolerance for my corny humor, poor grammar, misspellings and other writing sins. The best part of doing this column has been the opportunity it’s given me to meet so many people who share a similar passion for gardening. I’ve often felt that I learned as much about gardening from you as hopefully you have from me. So, it is with mixed feelings that I’ve decided to make this my last Gardener’s Checklist column. I wish you all a very Happy New Year. May your days be filled with peace and joy. Keep gardening!