You are receiving this e-mail because you signed up for the Almanac Companion newsletter.
E-mail not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.

Time to Prune

Late winter is a good time for pruning some trees and shrubs. Plants are dormant but the coldest part of winter has passed, lowering the chance of cold damage near pruning cuts.

Pruning deciduous plants in the winter promotes fast regrowth in the spring. It’s also easier to see the shape of deciduous plants in the winter, since their foliage is gone.

Here are some tips:
• Prune on a mild, dry day.
• Remove any dead and diseased branches. Then remove the overgrown and smaller branches to increase light and air at the crown of the tree.
• Cut branches at the node, the point at which one branch or twig attaches to another.
When pruning apple trees and other fruit trees, cut water sprouts right to their bases. These vigorous, upright shoots soak up the plant’s energy and bear few or no flowers or fruit. Remove weak twigs.
• Prune butterfly bush severely. These plants bloom only on new shoots. Lop the whole plant to within a few inches of the ground.

Click here for more Pruning Pointers

Consult our Winter Pruning Guide for a list of popular plants.

Forcing Blooms

Unless you’re in a warm weather zone, you’re probably getting antsy for spring! If you love forsythia, crab apple, or other flowering trees, try forcing branches indoors.

Cut the branches, put them in warm water, and keep in a cool, shady spot indoors. See our tips and a list of spring-blooming plants.

Cast Your Vote!

Tell us your favorite annual in our flower poll. This will help us create plant pages that are useful for you! Vote here.


A sparrow enters the tree
Whereon immediately
A snow-lump thrice his own slight size
Descends on him
And showers his head and eyes.

–Thomas Hardy (1840–1928) 

A Special Offer from The Old Farmer’s Almanac


Mom’s Meat Loaf

For some people, meat loaf is the food they ate when nothing was left in the house.

At my house, though, it was a very special treat. I’ll show you how to make my mom’s recipe.

Watch video!

Great Almanac Giveaway

Check out this month’s prize:

Organize your gardening activity with Fiskars handy tote & organizer, The Old Farmer’s Almanac All-Seasons Garden Journal and Gardening Calendar, and Norpro Compost Keeper.

Mighty Good Meat Loaf and Meatballs

One of our favorite comfort foods is meat loaf—and let’s not forget meatballs. Here are a few variations on the classic—or browse our recipe archive.

Meat Loaf with Onion Stuffing
The onion stuffing makes this a nice change of pace for a family dinner—and the chili sauce makes a wonderful topping!

Apple Meat Loaf
An excellent loaf with a hint of apple-pie taste built right in.

Cheese Meat Loaf
A favorite of our readers. If you’re not feeding a crowd, freeze one loaf (either before or after baking) for later use.

Lebanese Meatballs
With its distinctively tart yogurt sauce, this is particularly good served with wheat pilaf.

Cooking Tips

• To keep meat loaf from sticking to the pan, place two strips of bacon on the bottom of the pan before adding the meat mixture.
• Add a tablespoon of horseradish to perk up the taste.
• For a healthier meat loaf, substitute oatmeal for bread crumbs. You’ll add fiber and vitamins.
• To save time making meatballs, roll the meat into a log and cut into slices. Roll the slices into balls.

Climate Trends

Wondering why the end of winter has brought some unusual weather?
• The El Niño warming the ocean waters has finally grown big enough; warmer-than-usual waters add moisture to the air, causing huge storms.

What is El Niño? Find out.

• Cold polar air is escaping south due to weak Arctic winds. Bottom line; We’re looking at a cold finish to winter. See your long-range and short-range weather conditions.

Tell Us!
Have you experienced any unusual winter weather this year? Do you have a weather story or a "first time" winter moment to share? We’d love to hear from you. Click here to tell us (and read what others have to say)!

Weather Lore

Thunder in February means poor sugaring.

St. Matthias’s Day [February 24] sends sap into the tree.

A February spring is not worth a pin. –English proverb