Ask the Experts

Wisconsin State Farmer
January is traditionally peak garden catalog mailing season

Q: Can I do some pruning of my backyard shrubs now?

A: This is a great time to prune many backyard shrubs. Summer blooming shrubs can be pruned in late winter and very early spring. Spring blooming shrubs, such as lilacs, magnolias, forsythia and others should be pruned shortly after their bloom season.

Q: I'm receiving lots of garden catalogs. Is it safe to order plants now? Why do they send them so early?

A: January is traditionally peak garden catalog mailing season. This is actually a good thing in many ways. It helps gardeners get through the dreariest time of year, as well as gives them an opportunity to order early to get the best selection. Most reputable garden catalog companies will wait to ship your product until the appropriate planting time in your area. But get your order in now to reserve the new and exciting plants becoming available.

Q: Do the table top herb growing machines really work?

A: I'm not sure exactly which machine you are talking about. There are several table top herb growing kits. If you refer to the table top hydroponic systems, soil-less systems that grow plugs, shoots and seeds over a stream or mist of water, these do work quite well.  You can also grow more than just herbs. Because many of these systems provide a light source, they can be placed just about anywhere.

Q: Robins are coming to my feeders. What do they eat?

A: Robins have been frequenting many feeders throughout the state over the past month. Keep them happy by providing food sources that include fruits and meal worms. Dried fruit, melon rinds, orange and apple slices, grapes, as well as suet that includes chunks of fruit are excellent sources of food. Meal worms provide an extra boost and are a great, tasty treat for these beloved birds.