~ December 17, 2008 ~
Time To Take A Breather...
I have to laugh at myself. This weeks quote captures perfectly what I am
feeling. We have had sleet, snow, unbearable temperatures and I am
already asking myself, "When will spring arrive?" I'm such a silly
girl. Winter hasn't even officially arrived and all I can wish for are
warmer, sunnier days. At least there were periods of sunshine today.
The past couple of days have been pretty dreary. The kids were
greatly disappointed that school was not canceled on Monday or
Tuesday. I on the other hand still have many errands to run in preparation for Christmas and was glad that school was on as usual. We are
home for the holidays and I keep telling the kids that there will
plenty of "together" time for the next two weeks. I'm actually
looking forward to slowing down and taking a breather. We could all
use some time to regroup before the new year begins. We are blessed
to have each other and will spend Christmas break having sleepovers
with friends, taking in movies, reading books and maybe visiting a
couple of museums. Things that we would like to do but sometimes are
so busy that we just don't make the time.
Preventing Snow Mold...
This week's snow found some of us with a fair amount of unraked leaves on the ground. Don't leave
them there! First on your "to do" list once the snow melts - rake up those leaves. It's just not healthy
for the turf to have wet leaves smothering it all winter. Additional snows that may have greater longevity
(on top of those unraked leaves) can lead to snow mold - a
possibility and it is best avoided.
Mulching your perennials is very important in wintertime. If
possible mulch the root zones of your azaleas and rhododendrons
with oak leaves, shredded oak bark or pine needles. Each will
add a little bid of acidity to the delight of these acid-loving
Winterize Power Tools...
Power tools and other gas-powered equipment need winterizing before being put
away for the season. Here are some basics:
These simple steps will help ensure a longer lasting machine as well as a
better chance of a successful "cold-start" next spring.
be changed and moving parts lubricated.
should either be drained or have a gas stabilizing additive
mixed into the fuel.
Illuminating Houseplant Help...
To keep your houseplants healthy you may need to compensate
for the short days and long nights of winter. Try moving them
closer to windows but make sure their foliage doesn't actually
touch the cold window. Supplemental lighting is another option.
Light units containing special grow lights can be purchased from
mail-order companies or at garden centers. You can also build
your own lighting structure. A standard fluorescent unit
containing one cool white 40 watt tube and one warm
white 40 watt tube provides adequate light for most
houseplants. Plants should be placed within 6 to 12 inches of
the lights for maximum benefit.
Two Out Of Three Wise Men Recommend...
The holiday season is full of traditions involving the plants
we grow. Wreaths, mistletoe, Christmas trees, the list goes on.
How about frankincense and myrrh? What is that stuff anyway?
Well, they are both resins - dried tree sap - that come from
trees of the genus Boswellia (frankincense) and Commiphora
(myrrh). The way that people collect the sap is similar to the
way people collect rubber tree sap or pine tree sap. Cutting the
tree's bark causes the sap to ooze out of the cut. The sap used
to create both of these famous resins comes slowly and is allowed
to dry on the tree. Both in the time of the three wise men and
today, frankincense and myrrh are most commonly used to create
Living Christmas Trees...
A number of Americans have gotten into the habit of decorating for the
season with a living, "renewable" Christmas Tree. If you are among those
planning on using a living Christmas Tree this year you should keep a few
things in mind:
- Plan to keep the tree in the
home for as short a time as possible. The maximum time in the house should
be five to seven days; the longer it is kept in the house, the greater the
risk of failure. If kept inside too long, the tree begins to grow and is damaged
or killed when planted outside in the cold temperatures.
- Remember the tree will need adequate
water inside the home. The soil ball or pot should be kept moist but not wet; wrap
the soil ball or pot in plastic or place in a tub while it is in the house to avoid
damaging the floor or carpet. Check the soil ball or pot daily, and water when it
- Locate it away from heat sources such
as fireplaces, registers, wood stoves, and space heaters. Decorate with care; avoid
heat producing lights, flocking or artificial snow. Use cool lights and avoid causing
damage to the tree with heavy ornaments or decorations.
- After Christmas, remove the decorations
and move the tree back to the cool but non-freezing storage location for three or four
days to gradually acclimate it to cooler temperatures. Again, do not allow the soil ball
or pot to freeze during this acclimation period.
- After the acclimation period, plant the
tree in the pre-dug and mulched hole using good tree planting techniques. Remove the
pot or as much of the burlap as possible without disturbing the root system. Firm the
soil around the root system, water well and mulch heavily with straw or composted wood
chips over and beyond the planting area to minimize soil temperature fluctuations.
Holiday Window Boxes...
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.
"If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley