The end of January and beginning of February means it is time to dig in and start planning and planting.
Five things you can do this winter for your garden:
1. Buy and plant bare root roses.
Nurseries advertise great prices on roses during the winter because they are sold “bare root” or without a pot and soil. That means they usually have their roots encased in a plastic bag with damp sawdust keeping the roots damp. Bare-root roses this time of year are still dormant so that also makes them easier to plant as they won’t suffer as much from the shock of transplanting. Bare root roses are much easier to load into the car and carry about the garden.
This is the best time of year to find named varieties of hybrid tea roses such as the disease-resistant Peace rose; climbing roses such as the classic New Dawn pink rose; and hardy shrub, landscape and species roses such as the thorny, but tough Rosa Rugosa.
Planting Tip: Soak the bare roots overnight in a bucket of water. If you buy a boxed, bare root rose, do not plant the cardboard box with the rose no matter what the package recommends. Our mild winter climate means the rose roots do not need the added protection of cardboard.
2. Buy and plant bare root fruit trees and berries.
Once again, winter is the best time to add bare-root fruit trees because they are under the anesthetic of winter and won’t suffer from the transplant operation. If your New Year’s resolution is to become more self-sufficient by growing more food, make this the week you add a mini orchard to your property.
Apple trees come in dwarf and semi-dwarf root stocks and there also is a “Columnar” apple tree that bears fruit on the trunk or short spurs. This tree does not branch out. The “Columnar” apple tree needs just 2 feet of room and can be grown in a half whiskey barrel. Raintree nursery of Morton Washington sells this super compact apple tree for under $30 and will ship it to your door. Go to raintreenursery.com.
3. Buy and plant bare root flowering shrubs.
Old fashioned favorites such as lilac, spiraea, forsythia and quince can be purchased bare root and a dozen of those blooming shrubs will take up less space in your car than a week’s worth of groceries.
Use a mix of inexpensive bare root shrubs and a few evergreens to design a border of plant material along a property line or in front of a fence line to create a tapestry of bloom. A mix of blooming bushes can replace the evergreen and ever boring line of pyramidalis arborvitae lined up like green soldiers. The more diverse the plants in your landscape, the better it is for local birds, bees, insects and wildlife.
4. Order seeds from catalogs now or buy seeds from local nurseries offered by local seed companies.
Those of us who live in Western Washington are lucky to have Ed Hume Seed Co. based in Puyallup, with Ed Hume himself still recommending the best seed varieties and planting tips from his 50-plus years of local gardening experience.
You can find Ed Hume seeds at many home centers, grocery stores and nurseries or order online at edhumeseeds.com. It is still too early to start many seeds either indoors or out, but purchasing seeds now ensures that the varieties you want will be in stock and you can use the information on the package to plot out when and where to plant the seed.
Tip: Displaying colorful seed packs in a basket or bowl is a great spring tonic. You can also string a piece of twine across a window or mantel. Then use clothes pins to clip the seed packages to the twine for an inspirational banner of summer bounty to come.