March 8, 2002

Forcing Flowering Branches of Woody Trees and Shrubs

With the recent snowfall, I am even more desperate for the first signs of spring. Many others are impatient as I am for a few spring blooms. Yet, we can fool a few woody trees and shrubs to bloom prematurely indoors under the right conditions.

Late winter is a great time to collect branches of pussy willow, forsythia, flowering quince, crabapple, magnolia, redbud, serviceberry, and fruit trees to force into bloom indoors. Woody plants have met their dormancy requirements and are just waiting for the right conditions to bloom.

Oak Wilt

If you planned on pruning oak trees this year but haven't gotten around to it yet, remember, once April arrives the risk of attracting insects that can spread the oak wilt fungus increases.

Oak wilt is a serious disease that can infect many oak species. It is caused by the fungus, Ceratocystis fagacearum. Red oaks are very susceptible to oak wilt and can die within four to six weeks of when symptoms are first observed. White and bur oaks are moderately resistant to the disease.

Growing Potatoes in the Home Garden

One of the most popular vegetables in the home garden is the "Irish" potato. A native of South America, the potato didn't become an important food crop until it was introduced to Ireland in the sixteenth century.


Prepare Your Body for the Gardening Season Ahead

Gardeners know that gardening chores are great exercise. Regular garden chores can burn anywhere from 120 to 200 calories per half hour depending on the intensity of the activity. (See the table below for the amount of calories burned per gardening activity.) However, gardening chores are seasonal and can lead to injury if your body is not properly prepared for outdoor activities.