~ December 2, 2009 ~
A Good Workout...
I was lucky enough to be outside yesterday - yes, you guessed it, raking leaves. Trying to get the last few remaining off
the lawn. I really enjoyed myself even though I was a bit sore this morning when climbing out of bed. Gardening is a
great work out! You get to do lots of bending, (with the knees not the back), and raking which certainly gives you a good
cardio workout. It is so much better than going to the gym - it must be the scenery.
60° one day 30° the next. I am not talking about age although that is how I feel some days. It is these crazy temperatures.
As I was cleaning up some beds yesterday I noticed that underneath some of the leaf mulch there are perennials still stirring.
The many plants I have cut back have new growth on them. Now is the time where mulch becomes a huge benefit. If you have
not had time to mulch your beds now is the time to get it done. With the fluctuation in temperatures, mulch will help to keep
plants from being fooled by Mother Nature. The ground is not yet frozen and with the way the weather has been swinging from warm
to cold mulching will help protect your plants throughout winter.
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 regularly until the ground actually 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 an 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 product labeling.
Getting A Handle On Gift Giving...
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.
Grips - 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.
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° to 72° 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.
This is a good time to remember that pesticides are dangerous
poisons and must be stored properly for the winter months. Store
them in a frost-free location away from food and out of the reach
of children. If a pesticide is in a paper container, put the
whole package in a plastic container and seal it well. Be sure
that all bottles and cans are tightly sealed and well labeled.
Store liquid pesticides where temperatures will not fall below 40°F.
Too low a temperature may result in a breakdown of the chemical.
Also, if the liquid should freeze, there is the danger of the
glass container breaking and scattering the chemical in the
Cold Facts On Watering Houseplants...
Before you give your houseplants that next drink you should
know that according to Ohio State researchers cold water can
destroy the ability of root cells to take in water and
nutrients. Water below 50°F was found to reduce leaf size, cause
leaf drop, and eventually contribute to the death of potted
plants. Those requiring frequent watering, such as spathiphyllum
and ficus, are especially prone to damage and should not be
watered with water below 65°F. Other tests show that warmer
water (about 90°F) actually stimulates growth.
All Wrapped Up...
You've seen tree trunks wrapped up for the winter but do you
really know why? The aim of tree wrapping is to keep the trunk
from heating unevenly on bright, sunny, winter days. Bark tends
to split as it cools rapidly after the winter sun has warmed the
south and west sides of the tree. Most Savvygardeners use
commercially available tree wraps or put up canvas or burlap
screens to shade young fruit trees. But even a plank leaned up
against the south side of the trunk will help. Painting trunks
with white latex paint is a technique common in orchards to
achieve the same purpose. You should consider these protective
measures if you have young, tender-barked trees like fruit trees.
If you're looking for a way to get a small child interested
in gardening you might consider growing some carnivorous plants
indoors this winter. We're talking about Venus Fly Traps,
Pitcher Plants, and Sundew. Any and all of these insect
eaters will capture the imagination of kids (of all ages).
- Carnivorous plants require a
moist, acidic growing medium, high relative humidity, and
- Try growing them in a fish
aquarium or large terrarium. A piece of Plexiglas placed
over the top will help maintain a high relative
humidity. Ventilation can be provided by keeping the Plexiglas
- Use 2 parts sphagnum peat moss and
one part coarse sand as a growing medium. Place one inch of
coarse gravel on the bottom before adding the growing medium.
- Good lighting is essential for
carnivorous plants. An east or west facing window that
receives at least 1 or 2 hours of direct sun is fine. A
fluorescent light fixture containing two 40 watt tubes can be
used in poorly lit areas.
- Day-time temperatures should be
70° to 75°F during the summer and 55° to 60°F in winter.
- Water with rain or distilled
water. Tap water may be too alkaline or contain too many
is usually no need to fertilize carnivorous plants. These
plants are native to areas with low nutrient levels.
"When the bold branches
Bid farewell to rainbow leaves -
Welcome wool sweaters."
~ B. Cybrill