It looks like old man winter still has his grip on Long Island. As I look outside, the ground is still white and it is snowing again with even more snow in the forecast for later this week. It would be nice to get outside and go for a walk without worrying about frostbite or dodging over snow banks to avoid oncoming traffic. Boy, would I like to go somewhere warm and sunny for a week or two.
What can we do to alleviate cabin fever as the winter wanes and the spring approaches? If you can take a few weeks in a warm climate, go ahead. If you can’t, here are a few ideas to help deal with the dreary days remaining in winter.
Your indoor plants are living with less light during the winter which translates to needing less fertilizer. How do you know if they need to be fertilized? Well, if they are actively growing or flowering indoors, fertilize them. At least once this winter, give your indoor plants a boost with some fertilizer. Make sure the soil is moist before fertilizing. Water soluble 20-20-20 is good for non-flowering houseplants and 15-30-15 fertilizer is best for flowering plants. If your indoor plants are dormant, suspend fertilizing until the spring.
Housebound weekend days seem to go by more pleasantly when observing nature through a window into your garden. Install a bird feeder outside a window next to a comfy seat and watch the wide variety of birds display their colorful feathers against the gray and white of winter. You can vary the type of seed you provide and thus vary the population of birds that come to visit. Try to keep the squirrels away by placing the feeder away from jumping off points like branches or furniture. The less landing surface the squirrels can find on the feeder will help deter them as well, but a hungry squirrel is a determined squirrel, so there are really no squirrel-proof feeders. Watching the squirrels’ antics is sometimes more entertaining than watching the birds eat!
Another way to banish the winter blues is to look ahead. What would you like to improve outdoors? Planning is an important part in the process of developing a landscape and all of the elements that are integral to a wonderful garden. I like to start with a photo review of last season to assess and evaluate what worked well and what needs improvement. If you don’t have photos (think about photo documenting your garden next season), you can mentally walk through your garden in your mind’s eye and jot down a few notes. Once the snow melts and the weather warms up a bit, take a walk around your property again. How is the hardscape holding up? Are the trees safe and healthy? What areas of the garden need some help and what areas are doing well? Then develop a strategy for what to improve and how to do it.
I like to cook, so I always make sure I have enough room for a variety of herbs. What was I missing last year that I want to make sure I have on hand this year? How will I fit in additional plants? Will I have to swap out a variety? How did your vegetable garden do last year? Do you need more light or compost? Maybe you need to have an arborist evaluate your shade trees and selectively prune to boost your vegetable garden’s yield. Maybe you don’t have an irrigation system, and after the hot, dry summer we had in 2013, you might consider putting in a drip system to make your life easier.
This is where landscape design professionals can be of great value. Planning, creativity and garden development strategy are our expertise. An accomplished and experienced landscape designer can help you remodel portions of your garden, recommend hardscape improvements, help develop new garden areas or prepare plans for a complete renovation if that’s the path you’re on. Prepare a wish list including your favorite plants, garden themes and lifestyle needs. A landscape plan can be a great way to develop and improve your property with both short and long term goals in mind. Contacting a landscape designer at Goldberg & Rodler in the winter will give you a jump start on spring.
Other ways to beat the winter doldrums include attending garden lectures and workshops or settling in with a good gardening book. Check with your local garden center, library or arboretum to see what activities are on their schedules. If you are looking for a good book focusing on sustainable design and methodology, try “Grow More with Less,” by Vincent Simione, the director of Planting Fields Arboretum and Historic State Park in Oyster Bay, Long Island. It is a great guide for a homeowner or professional that can put you on the right track developing your garden in an easy and sustainable way.
So there you have it, a few ideas to distract you from winter until we can get outside again. Good luck, and if you’d like to talk to me about your garden, call me, Sal Masullo, at (631) 271-6460 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org, and I would be happy to discuss your landscape with you.
Written by Sal Masullo