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Gardening through a pandemic

The year has finally come to a close. While there have been many different kinds of losses this past year, there has been one positive this year that has been very near and dear to my own heart. There are so many more people getting back to the basics and starting to have their own gardens again. There have been many who have gone back to gardening in some small way and those who have decided to jump in with both feet and hands!

As I celebrate the close of my 27th year being a Master Gardener, I am so happy to see so many more people gardening through the pandemic. This is such a wonderful way to get back to the outdoors as a family and enjoy some of your hard work either through picking flowers or eating the fruit and vegetables that you have chosen to raise in your gardens.

I have celebrated this past year with many of you having returned or started for the first time to gardening by answering many questions about how to get started and also about those problems that we all have seen this past year in our gardens. While the snow has stopped some of our gardening endeavors, we can head back out into our yards and garden soon spending some time pruning some of the plants we have in our gardens.

After January has passed, it is time to start pruning plants such as fruit bearing trees (pears, apples, plums etc.). These trees do much better if the interior branches are trimmed to allow light and air movement to the maximum amount.

If you have spring flowering shrubs or plants, do not prune them in the spring but wait until after they flower. If you have shrubs or plants that flower in the summer, then you can prune them this spring. If you have some plants that have broken branches, these can be pruned at any time. In fact, it is a good time to prune trees and shrubs now because you can better see the shape of the plants in order to make sure that they are appropriately shaped to your liking.

Fruit such as raspberries, grapes and blueberries can wait until after the snow has melted.

As winter marches on, it is important to remember to check on any young trees whether they have tree guards or not for rodent damage and adjust according to anything you might see. There are times that rodents can tunnel under the snow and get under the tree guards to chew around the base of our tender, younger trees. This is called girdling. This can kill a young tree when a rodent is able to chew through the bark all the way around the base of a tree.

It is important to remember that pruning is used for more than aesthetic reasons. It can also help with disease management and insect management. Pruning can also help with plant health as well. For more information on pruning, please go to https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/pruning-trees-and-shrubs

For more information on gardening, or how to become a Master Gardener through online training, please email me for more information at s.dejaeghere@me.com

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