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Plan, gather equipment for coming garden work
With cooler weather finally showing up over the Christmas holidays, I’m going to share a few thoughts and ideas to start in on the garden this first week of 2016.
It was 50 degrees and cloudy on the coast the first weekend of the year, and I thought it felt too cold to actually get out and take care of a few chores. Instead, I walked around the house and garden and made a list of things I need to do.
One of the things I saw concerned my citrus trees. There was a new shoot popping out near the base of my satsuma tree. The shoot was from the rootstock, and if I allowed it to continue growing, it would produce inedible fruit. I get multiple calls about this each year, and this is something everyone who grows citrus needs to be on the lookout for.
A sure sign of these unwanted shoots is the presence of thorns on the stems. Be sure to clip these shoots off.
I also noticed some branches I need to prune. Branches less than an inch thick are easily removed with a trusted pair of bypass pruners. But for larger branches, you really need to use a saw.
Limb saws are fine, but I’ve never liked the way the handles on many commonly available saws fit my hands. This all changed as I was buying some last-minute presents a couple of weeks ago. I found a drywall saw with a padded handle, and I combined it with a pruning saw blade. What I really like is that the handle will convert to a more comfortable pistol-grip saw that is perfect for smaller jobs.
On this weekend’s cool stroll, I was also reminded of how important it is to take care of our hands in the garden during the colder months.
Gloves are a must, and I like a couple of models. For using shovels and other wood-handled tools, I like mechanic gloves that have leather finger panels and stretchy material on the backs. These give me great holding power and help with hand fatigue.
The other gloves I like are the latex- or nitrile-coated cotton gloves. These are a good choice for situations where your hands are going to get wet. The coatings help you maintain your grip on tools.
I started using another product a couple of years ago that has really helped my hands, primarily because I tend not to follow my own advice and often don’t wear any gloves at all. In cold weather, my hands get rough and cracked, but the remedy I use is a product called O’Keefe’s Working Hands. It’s available online and at many garden centers and home improvement stores.
So let’s get out and make 2016 a great year in our Mississippi landscapes and gardens. Happy New Year!