December 5, 2007
Yesterday was pleasant, today is dreadful. The North wind's
bite stings. I don't feel like being outside today but I have to
pick up the kids, walk the dog and all of the things that moms
do. I pulled out my big winter coat, scarf and gloves. I look a
bit like Nanook of the North. Pretty funny actually. I am all
bundled up with my scarf close around my face keeping the wind
at bay. It's the only way to go. I can't go out in weather like
this unless I am prepared. I look pretty ridiculous but in a
ridiculously warm kind of way.
It looks as if we
might be getting a snow-ice mixture sometime tomorrow. I think
they are calling for it early in the day. The snow I don't mind
- it is the ice that can be dangerous
for both humans and plants. Use caution when it comes to
knocking ice off trees and shrubs. And if you don't know what to
do go to our website and search under "What to do with ice on
trees and shrubs" and you will find some tips listed to assist
you. I am going to hope that the ice misses us but a little snow
would be nice.
Wind Damage To Evergreens...
Anyone else notice the cold, howling wind
today? Be warned - Cold winter winds can cause injury to
evergreens. Needles and leaves of evergreens may become
discolored or develop a bleached out appearance, especially on
windy sites. "Winter burn" is caused by the wind blowing over
leaf surfaces and drawing water out of the plant, desiccating the
plant tissue. Locations in full sun tend to fare worse. To
protect plants, be sure soil is evenly moist up until freeze.
During a dry fall, you may need to water up until the ground
freezes. You may also want to consider protecting plants by
wrapping them in burlap or putting up some sort of barrier to
break the wind. Another option is the anti desiccant spray. These
are available from your local nursery or garden center. Anti
desiccant sprays create an invisible film on the leaf surface
that reduces the amount of water lost to the wind and sun. If you
choose to try an anti desiccant, be sure to read and follow the
Getting A Handle On
If you're thinking about buying garden tools as gifts for
that special gardener make sure you choose them carefully.
Getting the basics right can be the difference between a tool
that helps the gardener versus one that frustrates.
- The right tool starts with a good grip. For starters, it
should be pliable and non-slip. A pliable, soft grip will
protect your joints and help keep your hand from cramping. A
non-slip handle means you don't have to waste energy hanging
onto the tool.
Handles - Tools with longer handles will make it easier to
garden by saving you from bending over or overextending your
reach in the garden. A long handle will also give you some
leverage and help you in using the tool.
Weight - Check the weight of any tool you're going to buy.
It should be heavy enough to be durable but not so heavy it is
fatiguing to use. A lightweight tool means more energy to
Quality - Good tools, well taken care of will last
forever. Those tools that get daily use (trowels come to mind)
should be made of materials that are both durable and
effective. Stainless steel and carbon steel blades are best.
If your empty window boxes are begging for some winter
substance try filling them creatively with evergreen branches
inserted into the soil. If the soil is already frozen soften it
with warm water first. You will find that balsam fir branches
will hold their blue-green needles until spring. For added color
try bittersweet, holly berries, and strawflowers.
Household Humidity Help...
You know that dry feeling you get in a heated house all
winter long? Your houseplants like it even less than you do.
They actually prefer a relative humidity of 40 to 50 percent but
suffer under humidity levels of 10 to 20 percent common in many
homes during the winter months. What to do? Humidifiers are an
excellent way to increase the relative humidity in the home.
Grouping plants together is an easy way to raise humidity levels
as well. The water evaporating from the potting soil, plus water
lost through the plant foliage, will increase the relative
humidity in the vicinity of the houseplants. Another method is
to place houseplants on trays (saucers) filled with pea gravel or
pebbles. Add water to the trays, but keep the bottoms of the
pots above the water line. The evaporation of water from the
trays increases the relative humidity.
By the way,
misting houseplants is not an effective way to raise the
relative humidity. The plant foliage dries quickly after misting
and would have to be done several times a day to be effective at
From our friends at
University of Missouri Extension here are some good tips to
make your poinsettias last longer and retain their color.
Consumers should consider several factors when buying a
poinsettia plant, said David Trinklein, professor of
horticulture. The plant should have bright bracts and healthy
foliage that does not look wilted. Its cyathia, the true flower
in the center of the bracts, should be tightly clustered and just
starting to shed pollen.
Once it is brought home these tips will keep
it healthy and happy:
Place it in a brightly lit location
away from cold drafts or hot air registers.
- Color can be
prolonged if the plant is kept at 60°
with high humidity.
- Don't overwater a
poinsettia. Water only when the surface of the growing medium
is dry to the touch.
- If the pot
containing the plant is foil-covered, be sure there is a
drainage hole in the foil. Empty any water that might drain
through the pot and collect in the saucer below.
Pacing Your Paperwhites...
As the holidays near, you can adjust the bloom time of your
forced paperwhites. If they are coming along too quickly, place
them in a cool room (50-60º F) and
water less frequently. If you need to speed them up a bit, place
them in the warmest room in the house. With a little luck
they'll be blooming right on time!
Put Your Mower
If you are
done mowing for the year, be sure to service your mower before
putting it away.
the gas tank of gasoline powered engines or use a gasoline
stabilizer. Untreated gasoline can become thick and gummy.
A few drops of oil
squirted inside the spark plug hole (after you remove the spark
plug) will help lubricate the cylinder.
While you have the
spark plug removed, replace it with a new one.
If your equipment has a
battery, clean the battery terminals of any
corrosion that may have occurred during the season. A
wire-bristle brush is a good tool for doing this.
The battery can then be
removed or connected to a battery monitor that will keep it
charged over winter.
If you remove the
battery, be sure to store it in a protected location for the
winter season (a cool basement works best).
"In my garden I can
find solitude. I can go out there and say, "No phone, no
interruptions, I am busy," and then shut myself off for a little