Notice from GCFM President Bonnie Rosenthall:
A new invasive species, known as the “jumping worm” or “snake worm” has the potential to cause serious damage to roots of plants and can cause major decline in soil composition, invertebrates, salamanders, birds and other animals. In the spring months (when we are preparing for our plant sales) the eggs of this invasive worm can survive the harsh winters in tiny resilient cocoons. Cocoons are very small and dirt colored so they are nearly impossible to spot with your own eyes. Cocoons can be spread easily in potted plants, and on landscaping equipment, mulch, tire treads, and even in shoes. The adult worm is hard to miss as they have a white band near the head of the worm. Jumping-worms.
Use a nasty day to sharpen hand tools such as pruners, trowels and hoes. Clean, sharp tools will make your work easier and, in the case of pruners, ensure no damage to the shrubs you use them on. Send your mower out to be tuned and sharpened before the shops get busy.
When the soil in your yard is dry enough not to leave footprints when walked on, collect the sticks, branches and debris from your lawn. Then, give it a good raking with a steel tined rake to remove dead grass, the dead leaves, and any other debris that has accumulated since the end of autumn.
Cut back dead plant material that you had left standing over the winter. Remove the old stalks and leaves so the new growth will have a clear path for growing, blooming and brightening your yard come spring.
While taking care of outdoor chores, look around your yard looking for plants that have been heaved out of the ground by frost. If it is possible, push them back into the soil. If the soil is still frozen and you cannot replant, cover the roots with four or more inches of fresh soil or mulch. But, make certain you make a note to yourself to plant it properly when the weather allows!
Bring spring indoors. Force branches of witch hazel (which smell wonderful) forsythia, quince, cornus mas, fruit trees and magnolia. Remember when cutting the branches you are actually pruning, so keep the plant’s overall shape in mind. Once indoors, make a fresh cut and place the branches in three inches of warm water with a preservative. Change the water regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria which can inhibit blooming. Once the flowers pop, bring them into a bright room and enjoy your early spring.
You can start planting summer flowers and bulbs—in pots! Get a head start on tender bulbs such as begonias, cannas, colacassia (elephant’s ear), dahlia and ranunculus. Started indoors in pots. they will be larger and bloom sooner when you put them outdoors after the weather has warmed sufficiently. Check the planting details for individual bulbs or corms, but most can be potted now in a lightweight, well drained potting mix. When the shoots appear, move them to a site where they get several hours of sunlight a day. As the temperatures increase, increase their sunlight exposure.
Your carefully tended and well-groomed house plants could earn you a ribbon (or two) at the Boston Flower & Garden Show. Bring them into Seaport Trade Center after 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 8 to enter the amateur competition. There’s no fee for entering — or for the bragging rights you’ll earn. Full information on entering is at the bottom of the Amateur Horticulture section of https://masshort.org/garden-event/boston-flower-show-2020/.
Beware of ticks. The lack of snow and persistent above-freezing temperatures this winter mean disease-bearing ticks are active and looking for a blood meal. Spray your clothing with a DEET-type insecticide and always check you clothing and skin as soon as you come indoors from working outside.