I found this following article in the Worcester MA Telegram Gazette and I think it contains some nice gardening advice for this time of year in Skillin's Country. The writer is Paul Rogers and here goes!:
The New England winter season is long and bleak. Spring is brief and busy. Do we gardeners have the means to brighten the one and extend the other?
Indeed, we do. The key is to start spring activities now. How do we realistically accomplish this enviable goal? With a full understanding that the days begin to lengthen in 35 days, we spend as much time as possible preparing for spring.
Start out by cleaning up all trash and debris from your gardens every day that you can be outdoors. Sanitizing the garden clears the slate and removes untold numbers of potential weeds and pests from the property.
Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost over the vegetable and annual flower gardens. A dusting of ground limestone on everything from boundary line to boundary line would not be amiss.
Dig in the lime and compost in all bare soil areas. Leave the soil rough. You will be exposing grubs, beetle larvae, and other soil pests to voracious birds and other predators. The soil insects will also be exposed to killing cold temperatures.
By leaving the surface unraked, rain and melting snow will penetrate freely into the soil rather than eroding away. In addition, the soil surface will warm and dry quickly in the spring and allow earlier planting than usual.
Perennial beds and lawns will accept a 1- to 2-inch application of compost that will improve nutrient levels and soil structure, which will accelerate green-up in the spring.
Woody plants — trees, shrubs, hedges and vines — that were installed this year will benefit from a layer of compost placed under the pine bark mulch that surrounds these plants. If you planted roses or fruit trees, you have an added task for the former and two jobs for the latter. To deter rodents and rabbits from feeding on the nutritious stems of the rose or fruit trees, spread Milorganite, an organic fertilizer. The odor of Milorganite often keeps animals, including deer, from dining on the plants.
As to the fruit trees, their stems are susceptible to bark damage (sunscald and bark splitting) from the warming sun of February. From the ground up to the first or second tier of branches, the stem should be spiral wrapped using Tree-Wrap — a Kraft paper available in rolls. Apply it now and remove it in March. It is the best and cheapest insurance that you can use to prevent thin-barked trees from winter injury.
Make sure that your windowsills and plant shelves are well stocked with foliage and flowering plants. From indoors, when you are looking at a snow-covered landscape, it helps the view if the outdoor snow is framed by indoor flowers.
Kalanchoes offer long-lasting red, orange or yellow flowers above dark-green firm foliage. Holiday cacti are showing color right now. Pay a visit to your local plant place to augment your winter garden with attractive plants. Harvest or purchase stems of berried shrubs, branches of colored or contorted shrubs and use them in arrangements. Purchase an amaryllis bulb, some paper white narcissus, or a bouquet of cut flowers. Make your days brighter.