Gardening in Langley: There’s garden tasks to be done even in winter

Send questions to Anne Marrison via It helps to mention your city or region.

Between winter showers there’s time to do some things that you had hoped to do last fall – like cutting back the old canes on raspberries and mulching the new ones with compost, manure or Sea Soil.

The next step of shortening new raspberry canes to about five feet is always best done in late winter because during mild winters, the canes tend to put on extra growth which is easiest to handle just once.

Many of the late winter/early spring shrubs can be gently pruned ahead of time as their buds start to unfold giving you some pretty flower arrangements. These shrubs can include winter jasmine, Viburnum bodnantense, forsythia and witch hazel. The only caution is to cut sparsely into witch hazel because removing long branches tends to trigger rootstock suckers.

We’re very close to the time that lawns need winter’s blown branches cleared away and people who hate moss acquire moss removal preparations so that they get to rake dead moss instead of live moss.

But moss always returns unless the lawn is brought into grass-friendly health. This could mean any or all of several things some of which may need to be repeated each year.

A mossy lawn may need better drainage, less acidic soil, or more nutrition. Remedies may include a sand layered over the lawn, each spring and a scattering of Dolomite lime to reduce acidity.

Nutrition can be improved by a layer of compost or topsoil, by reseeding where necessary and setting the mower on a high cut in summer and leaving grass clippings on the lawn.

Sometimes shade is the main problem. If obtaining more sun is impossible, some moss-plagued people decide to love moss. The result can be very beautiful especially combined with white lawn furniture.

Shallots can be planted outdoors now and by the end of February or in early March you can plant seeds of broad beans, arugula, spinach, parsley, radishes and peas. Sugar peas are especially useful for small space since you can eat the pods early but if you don’t get around to eating the pods, you can go on to eat the peas.

Leeks can be started inside now. You may want to decide whether you prefer summer leeks such as Varna or Megaton which grow fast and mature early. The alternative is winter leeks such as Bandit or Tadorna which grow and mature more slowly and are extremely hardy.

Tomatoes and peppers can also be started inside now and people with a sheltered place to put large plants: maybe a greenhouse or a covered patio will have started them already. But a later start is sometimes best. It can be very awkward when huge tomato plants overflow windowsills but there’s no more space inside and cold weather outside.

Squash, pumpkins and zucchini pose an even worse problem since they’re extremely fast growers. I’ve found it easier to start these outside when weather warms.

Dahlias and begonias can be started indoors now. Soon summer bulbs will be in garden centres. It’s always interesting to experiment by trying one new type each season. Alliums are especially interesting because the bulbs are hardy and some kinds colonize readily.

Just Posted

Giant-Hawk name swap for Major Midget League hockey teams

League leaders last year, Valley West squad starts season on the road this weekend

LETTER: Heartwarming honesty so very much appreciated

A Langley woman who attended the RCMP Musical Ride hopes a kind man reads her letter of thanks.

Suspected spill kills hundreds of crayfish, coho in Langley river

A fish kill in the Nicomekl has a biologist concerned for the health of the local ecosystem.

UPDATED: Murrayville woman runs for mayor in Langley Township

Anna Remenik has been a fixture at local council meetings in recent years.

Rams harvest sweet victory in win over Huskers

The Chilliwack team found itself pushed back again and again.

64 cats seized from ‘bad situation’ now in BC SPCA care

The surrender is part of an ongoing animal cruelty investigation with BC SPCA Special Constable

Are you feeling lazy? That’s OK – it’s just science

UBC study shows that humans are hardwired to prefer being sloth-like

LETTER: Who do we blame for the tragedy of Marissa Shen’s death?

The B.C. girl was killed in a Burnaby park last July

Competition tribunal to hear B.C.-based case on airline food starting in October

The competition commissioner argued Vancouver airport authority had exploited its market position

Seek compromise with U.S. on cannabis at border, lawyers urge Ottawa

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency sent tremors through Canada’s burgeoning cannabis sector

Trudeau says Canada wants to see ‘movement’ before signing revised NAFTA deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is back in Washington in search of a way to bridge divide

Young people need us to act on climate change, McKenna tells G7 ministers

Catherine McKenna led off the three-day Halifax gathering Wednesday

5 to start your day

B.C. parents sue after toddler dies in unlicensed daycare, vehicle explodes in Pitt Meadows and more

B.C. woman facing animal cruelty charges after emaciated dog seized

Kira, a Rottweiler, had kidney and bladder infections

Most Read