By: Lisa Briggs | 1/14/21
It’s been a quiet winter season here in Lake Wobegon. Oh wait! We’re in Dane county, but the sentiment applies. We’ve had snow. Which we love, by the way. There hasn’t been anything that can remotely be called a Polar Vortex. Other than the Great Ice Fog, we’ve been lucky.
The only weird meteorological event was the early appearance of some blossoms on normally spring blooming shrubs, especially on lilacs. The super chilled weather in late October followed by the warm early November provided enough chill period to break dormancy on those flower buds. Flowering for the coming spring will be affected, but in the long term, your shrubs will be just fine.
The Garden Center is fully stocked with garden seeds for 2021 and it’s time to start seeds for annuals and vegetables that require a long germination period. This group includes things like leeks, petunias and lisianthus. Make sure that you use a soil-less potting mix meant for seed starting as this will help to prevent the terror of all seed starting gardeners everywhere, the dreaded damping-off disease. And don’t forget that strong, consistent lighting is the key in successful seed growing. Consider using fluorescent grow lights to make your life easier and your seedlings healthier.
You can also start seeds for perennials like delphiniums and columbine. Sown now, they will more than likely bloom for you this first year. And take good care of any cuttings that you started last fall. Pinch them back to create stockier plants and check regularly for pest and disease problems. Again, grow lights will help produce more successful cuttings by keeping them vigorous.
Start planning your annual patio containers. Try to remember what worked last summer and what didn’t. Consider using some vegetable plants in combination with your foliage and flowers. It’s more fun than relying solely on flowering plants and many of these plants are decorative, as well as tasty. We like succulents combined with grasses. Their diverse forms and colors combined with hardiness, drought tolerance and ease of care are all compelling reasons to give them a try. You can easily winter succulents indoors if you wish or plant the hardy varieties in the garden at the end of summer.
Even if seeds are not your thing, and you purchase baby plants instead of starting them yourself, it’s not too early to begin planning for the spring. Any of those beautiful gardening magazines or seed catalogs will inspire you.