Winter : January Tool Maintenance

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The new year is here.  I have a feeling that it will be an early spring. I have as much license to lie as the Weather Network or Environment Canada. After 30 years of landscaping I do have a hunch.
That being said, it is time to start thinking about your garden.  Are your tools ready for the forthcoming season?  I know mine are not.  Broken rakes, dull pruners...So, take a look in the gardening shed and see what you need.  The right tool in proper shape makes all the difference in the world when you are hard at work.
I myself broke two rakes before Christmas and had to replace them, so...take a look. Also make sure your loppers and hand pruners are sharp.  This is the time of year for fruit tree pruning and any deciduous shrub you have.  They are dormant and and without leaves, allowing you to see things like crossing branches.  Sculpt your trees now.  I find it fun to get into the structure of the shrubs and trees.
Now don't forget Dormant oil spray (lime sulphur is included).  It is a great control for dealing with overwintering insects and scale. It is a good idea to use on most trees and shrubs. It has a very low toxicity and it can be sold right off the shelf.  The application of this product is time sensitive though.  You don't want to spray dormant oil/lime sulphur once your plants have popped their flowers.  We do not want to mess with the honey bees as they are dwindling.  -Love the honey bees- The next two months should be okay for the dormant spray.  Cherries do bloom early though.  Prune, then wait for a period of 24 hours of dry before spraying.  Dry weather will occur at some point, and you want the application to stick.
Usually I would not mention fertilizer at this time of year but rhododendrons do bloom early. Perhaps you have a couple beginning to flower right now, so not a bad idea to put some Rhododendron/Azalea fertilizer (10-8-12) around the drip line of them.  You could also just use an all purpose fertilizer such as Gaia Green (4-4-4).  Help them put on the best show they possibly can.
Mulching is another task that can be done easily at this time of year.  Nice to do it now to smother the weeds that are starting to pop up. 
Early spring, beautiful gardens
Cam Oddie