Winter IS Still Gardening Time

Most of us need to have our veggie and annual areas soil tested at least every other year.

As camellias finish blooming it is important to remove the blossoms on the ground to prevent disease.

A few days of sunny weather makes me get out and start getting my garden ready for spring. Today, I took a soil test of my vegetable garden, as I have not done so in several years. I felt my production of vegetables seemed less last summer. The little soil testing boxes are always available at the Hanna Center at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens (second floor). Follow the instructions about taking a sample. The seven dollars they cost are worth the money. If you have trouble making the results work for your space, again the folks at the Hanna Center are available to help.

This fall and winter have been exceptional for all types of camellias to bloom. Once the blooms drop to the ground, be sure to remove them as they can cause petal blight. Spent blooms make great additions to the compost pile.

Another job I have behind me after today is the final cutting and bagging the clippings of my zoysia grass. Even though dormant for the winter the lawn now is clean and looks like it has had high maintenance. This cutting also keeps down the thatch build up.

This is also the best time to remove any limbs out of your trees. Be sure to take dead branches, crossed branches and any stray limbs that make the symmetry of the tree unsightly. Remember when removing a limb leave a collar the width of your finger from the trunk where the cut will heal properly.

Finally, one of the best things I do each year is stand back and look honestly at the yard. What looks good in my yard and what looks like a disaster become evident this time of the year. Now I can set about developing a plan that will make the garden look better this time next year.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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