~ December 16, 2009 ~
Six Days 'til Winter...
Looking at the calendar, Winter will officially arrive in six days. Hooray, we really haven't see quite enough
cold weather yet. Note the sarcasm in the last sentence? Let's see... it was a blistering 21° yesterday and we really warmed
up today. Odd how when the temperatures are hovering in the high 30's to low 40's that it feels as if a heat wave has
set in. You actually step outside and say, "Well, this is not too bad, it almost feels warm". Of course it's not bad
when you compare it to sub zero temperatures. Grrrr... that is me growling due to my deep dislike of cold weather.
I have a bad feeling about this winter. Give me strength!
Shopping, shopping, shopping! We are getting down to the wire. Christmas is quickly approaching so don't forget to buy
your favorite gardener a gift they can use all year long. A shovel, trowel, rake, gloves (you get the idea). I love those
types of gifts even though now is not the perfect time to use them. Garden decor is another great gift idea. Who doesn't
love wandering through a garden coming upon a hidden bird bath, stones etc..? Visit your local garden center or nursery.
I think you'll be surprised by all of the wonderful gift ideas they have for the gardener on your list.
Here's an interesting use for wood ash that our friend Mark Bartlow of
Ryan Lawn & Tree learned
from a customer in Shawnee a few years ago. Traction aid on ice! Apparently this particular customer had a long, steep
gravel drive that Mark and his crew were able to get into but not out of with their chipper truck.
They were stuck, but instead of calling a tow truck their customer breaks out her lawn spreader
and a bucket of wood ash, and proceeds to spread it over the trouble spots. To their surprise and relief
they drove out like there was no ice at all!
Great story and good advice!
Preventing Snow Mold...
Last 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.
"Arranging a bowl of flowers in the
morning can give a sense of quiet
in a crowded day - like writing a
poem or saying a prayer. "
~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh